I already knew that high fructose corn syrup is a) in everything and b) not exactly good for you, but here are nine new things I learned from the documentary King Corn:
1. Over 70% of the corn grown in this country goes to feed livestock on large feedlots.
2. None of our livestock evolved while eating corn, so it does a number on their digestive tracks, and can eventually kill them! Good thing we get to it first.
3. There is corn in our hair! (They were sketchy on the details. I like the idea, but it's odd how they just showed a shaky camera view of a "Scientist", in his "lab", taking a "sample" and then a machine that looked like a seismograph spit out a "report", which he looked at and shook his head. Proof!)
4. This film provided further evidence that Petitie Sophisticate provides the wardrobe for all Public Relations reps. from [insert name of corporation being outed in documentary of your choice here].
5. The average yield of an acre of corn has risen from around 40 bushels during our grandparents' generation to around 180 bushels today. This is due not to greater yield from an individual plant, but to the fact that the plants are bred to survive crowding, thus can be planted at greater density.
6. I knew vaguely, generally, about how farmers get paid by the government just to plant corn, but now I know a bit more detail... but not much, because it seems that the producers were also a bit confused about the whole process. But the long and short of it was that the system is set up in such a way that it only makes sense to have huge conglomeration farms. The money is in saying that you're farming the land, not in what you get from the crop.
7. It takes sulfric acid to make high-fructose corn syrup! (I think I maybe learned this once long ago, but watching someone add battery acid to a pot of corn really drives home the point)
8. "High fructose corn syrup enhances the flavors of fruit or spice in sodas." --Petite Sophisticated P.R. Woman
9. Michael Pollan has a comb-over. I love him anyway.
I thought that this was a nice, well produced documentary, that was not at all as preachy as it could have been. I liked the low-budget my-buddy-the-cameraman look to it, although some shots belie that they had more funding than they are letting on.
Something I think they could have dealt with, in place of stop-animation of Fisher-Price farmers planting corn: Pollution! Run-off! The crazy amounts of nitrogen that are being dumped onto corn fields and what that means for the health of anything living downhill/downstream/ anywhere in the near vicinity.
I mean, even our own St. Louis Post Dispatch did a story on run-off from corn fields.
Some additional reads on where our food comes from:
Ruth Ozeki's My Year of Meat
Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation
Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma or In Defense of Food
I already knew that high fructose corn syrup is a) in everything and b) not exactly good for you, but here are nine new things I learned from the documentary King Corn:
Every year, on the weekend before the Mardi Gras celebrations down in Soulard neighborhood in STL, there is a gigantic dog parade. Thousands of dogs, tens of thousands of people... maybe I exaggerate a bit...but maybe not. I've never seen so many dogs in one place, and the people are sometimes five or six deep along the route.
I took Moxie to march in the parade this year. We joined some folks from school who had planned a Wizard of Oz theme, complete with a Wicked Witch, Dorothy, and a troop of flying monkeys.
I can't really think of a good list to go along with this, but I couldn't resist posting cute pictures of my dog. Is that so wrong?
And that was my sappy dog post. The End.
Check back soon for Robots!!!
We went to see There Will Be Blood last night. I think that you should see it too. It's not as dark as the trailers make it out to be, but the characters are totally crazy. And I promise that if, like me, in the first half an hour you find yourself with your eyes closed, willing the screeching music to stop, you'll get over it and the acting will win you over. Granted, when exiting the theater everyone last person was kind of shaking their heads like, What on earth did I just see? But I'm sure that by the time they reached their cars they had decided, as we did, that it was fantastic.
And it got us talking about old-school oil and railroad barons. If we could go back, and be a magnate in some industry, what would it be?
+ Great Lakes shipping, Chicago to Northport line. Run people+timber
+ Brick foundry, later expanding into marble cornices and gargoyles
+Refrigerated railroad cars, later expanding into ice cream trucks, then the world's first soft serve.
+ first major midwest brewery, based in Leelanau Cty., use boats from shipping line to ship bottles to Chicago
+Shot glass souvenir magnate
You wouldn't have to try too hard to figure out which ones came from me...
+ Weather. Freezing cold but no snow, or hot as blazes and nowhere to swim.
+ Sandwiches, or lack thereof. As I have previously noted, it's hard to find a good old fashioned deli sandwich in these parts.
+ Everyone is from Saint Louis. And there is nothing wrong with that, really. It was a nice break from some other places that I have lived where all anyone wants is to Get Out. But since I'm not from here, the slightly all-encompassing-ness of it can be overwhelming sometimes. Does that make me sound like a snob? I don't mean to be.
+ Race Relations. After a few years in Upstate New York, I was looking forward to living in a place with more diversity again. But Saint Louis diversity is all numbers; demographics do not a multi-cultural experience make. The gulf between White Saint Louis and Black Saint Louis is wide, deep and seriously ingrained in everything from city politics to how you get to work. And that's just black & white... add in the immigrant populations and things don't get much better. Not that everyone in NY is running around holding hands with Haitian immigrants from Queens, but seriously, why don't any white people ride the bus here?
+ Arch Obsession*. Oh, I don't even know where to start with this one. I think there must be something in the City Charter that if your business or organization is going to come up with a logo and/or marketing phrase it must incorporate the arch.
+ Phyllis Schlafly. She has dedicated her life to eradicating all of the social advances that allow for me to take it for granted that I can pursue whatever career I choose, balance work and family, and have a say over my body. All while, paradoxically, pursuing all those things herself.
+ The "music scene". People here will argue with me. Tell me that there is Great! Local! Music! And sure there are a few good local bands, and a few larger names that started here, but given STL's location, smack in the middle of the country, one would think that a few more bands might stop here on their way across the country. I certainly did. I was wrong.
Removed from the list=
+Pizza. This city has the worst pizza I have ever tasted! Imo's is not pizza-- it is matzoh crackers with ketchup. And I know it is blasphemy, but for all I like about Blackthorn, their pie is not so good either. But lo! Three Monkeys showed up and saved STL from pizza-purgatory. The best crust in town.
But don't get me wrong. It is nice here. Didn't you read my last post?
Speaking of my last post...
(*) I forgot to mention that the Arch is a great thing to have around. It's clean lines are striking and I love that you can see it from so many places in the City.
We moved to Saint Louis just over a year ago, so I'm by no means a pro on the STL scene, but we like to get out and about (oot 'n aboot to you'se up north!) and in general these are my impressions...
- Cost of Living. Being able to live in a nice neighborhood AND go to grad school? Sign me up. I guess maybe that happens in college towns, but this is a city. And in the cities that I've lived in (NYC, Boston, Baltimore) nice neighborhood = rich. Non-profit workers and students need not apply.
-The parks. Tower Grove, 2 blocks from us (I live two blocks from the park! Take THAT Bklyn!) Forest Park, Carondelet.... all lovely, all BIG.
-FREE Museum/Zoo. Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Zoo. Free, free, free. And you get the boat basin to boot.
-Coffee. Who knew that a city like Saint Louis would have so much great coffee. Shaw, Kaldi, Kuva, Mississippi Mud... It makes my New Year's resolution to only drink good coffee (thereby skipping the always-present pot of Ronocco swill in my department pot) a bit too easy.
-Bikeable. Being a largely bike-bound girl, the relatively close proximity of everything in Saint Louis makes life easy.
-Cherokee Street. A gradual progression from Section 8 to Mexican hole-in-the-walls, to mid-century 'antique' stores. Throw in a Salvation Army and a cool record shop and you're good to go. This street has the best tacos I have ever had. EVER.
-MetroBus. Only marginally cheaper than NYC, but the eavesdropping is even better.
-Old North Saint Louis. Eerily beautiful buildings amidst empty lots. When we moved here we marveled at so much unused space in such a big city. Of course, there's a reason (a lethal mix of poverty, dis-enfranchisement, poor race relations, and changing times), but it's still sad to see so much neglect of once (and still!) regal architecture, in this era of strip malls and McMansions.
- Carrie Z's soup parties. It's true what they say--the Midwest really is a friendlier place than the East Cost. Don't get me wrong, I love my northeast friends more than anything, but never have I moved somewhere and been embraced so whole-heartedly as we were here. People meet you once and find out that you're new and the next thing you know they are tracking you down through three degrees of contacts to invite you over for soup on a cold winter evening.
- Mardi Gras Dog Parade in Soulard. STL's Soulard neighborhood claims to have the 2nd largest Mardi Gras outside of New Orleans. I can't be the judge of that, having not attended either (it was toooo cold to go to the STL celebrations last year). But I can say that you have never, ever, seen so many dogs in costumes as they have at the dog parade. Thousands! Thousands of dogs in costumes! And any place that embraces that many queened-out dogs has got to have a good heart.
-Double A's dj nights at the Royale. The Royale is hands-down our favorite bar hang-out in the city. Good atmosphere, good drinks, great food, nice owner. And of course when Adam's DJing, good tunes.
And oh, there's more. But today is Monday, the aforementioned Royale-visiting night. So I'm pooped from socializing with all these friendly, well adjusted people. Check back for the (good natured) cons.
What I wanted:
What I got:
Don't let those little red and yellow people jumping for joy fool you. This bar is not tasty. Not tasty at all. It is relatively lo-cal/lo-fat, but I'll gladly take 100 extra calories for something that doesn't taste like foam insulation.
Today my family's dog, Maggie, died at the age of 11.
She was a fantastic dog; the best ever.
My mom brought her home, out of the blue, during my senior year of high school. A woman had her in the driveway of the home where we all went for music lessons. It was love at first sight and my mom snachted her up, without even telling my dad. She was a little fuzzball pup then, with floppy ears. As soon as I can scan one of those pics I'll show you -- irresistible.
Maggie was a happy dog. She loved her family most of all, but second best she loved rocks. She loved to chase them down the hill behind my parents' home. She had a great nose and could find a small stone in the middle of those woods.
After fetching rocks, Maggie loved:
-running in the snowy woods
-going for hikes
-grabbing the back of your leg with her front paws if you tried to walk away when she still wanted to keep playing
-laying at the window watching birds
-medium sized rocks
Toward the end her kidneys started to go. She was in quite a bit of pain, couldn't eat b/c her teether hurt, and when she did, couldn't keep it down. But up today she would still run up and down that hill in search of rocks. This morning she was showing signs of internal bleeding and my parents made the decision to let her go before she suffered too much more pain. I'm told that at the end she seemed peaceful, curled in my mother's lap.
We'll miss you Mags! No other dog could ever fill your place.
I seem to be thinking in lists lately. It happens sometimes. So, let's go with it, and deem January the Month-O'-Lists.
Yeah, that's right--a new list every day! Or whenever I get around to it.
This is the last season of The Wire, the best show on television. (Don't take it from me. Everyone else thinks so too!).
My top ten favorite characters, Letterman-countdown order:
7. Brother Mouzone
5. Lester Freamon
1. Tie between Omar & Bubbles, but the scales are tipping toward Omar.
Character whose backside I have seen far too many times: McNulty.
Sometimes I get the feeling that they wrote the whole season, and then someone in a meeting said, "Guys! This is HBO! We need sex!" So they went back and added in a scene where McNulty gets sloshed and drink-dials and ex-girlfriend. But it's a minor quibble toward a show that is really stellar in all other ways. Order the back-seasons on Netflix. I promise you won't regret it.
I'll admit that i was complaining today about being cold, but honestly, that will happen anywhere. It happened in Mexico. It happened in Kenya forgodsake. Still, I am a girl who misses real winter. The kind of winter where long-johns are normal everyday attire. I tend to fantasize about snowhsoeing and cross countryskiing in the woods, but I ran into this pic today and realized that I miss big city winter too. For all its brown & grey snow and slushy puddles, there is something about a snow-bound city. Or maybe I just miss New York..... nahhhhhh.
I've realized that blogging about a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day makes for far more far interesting reading than a good day. But I can't help but mention that yesterday was perfect, and today is running a close second, maybe third.
-8.30 wake up. Phew. Looking good already.
-Crepes ala Adam. (with Blueberry-Lavender jam! Luscious!)
- Walk in Tower Grove with the puppy. Wherein she walked in a straight line for the first half of the walk before dissolving into puppy circles around me.
- Back to bed to read Paradise (T. Morrison--see sidebar.)
-Bike ride to Cherokee Street for the best tacos anywhere. Better than all the tacos we had in actual Mexico. And a mean horchata too.
-Nap. Two hours!!! All that fresh air, man.
-Gym & SAUNA.
-Homemade Massaman beef curry yumminess,
- Tropicana Lanes
-Pat's for a nightcap.
It was alllll good.
- Brunch of homemade hashbrowns, veggie sausage and fried eggs
-More reading in bed
-CUPCAKES. Which always make for a good day.
-The only pizza in STL worth eating, at Three Monkeys. Where, because they messed up our order, we got a FREE PIZZA to take home. Crikey!
- New Episode of the only television show worth watching (aside from L&O), The Wire
--accompanied by too much bourbon.
- In which case I think that the bath that I ordered up might be out of the question, as I toddle off to bed, minorly besotted with pizza, bourbon (oh, and that Duvel as well, forgot to mention that part).
My hats off to Playback:stl for the inspiration, and Thomas over at 52nd City for tipping me off to their list. I don't know why I didn't think to do this before.
Top Five Jell-o Salad Ingredients:
2. Mandarin Oranges
4. Tomato Soup
5. Cottage Cheese
For more on my obsession with jell-o see here. And don't miss the mold that I will buy someday when I can think up something good to say.
While driving back from MI last week I was passed by several screaming ambulances sporting this inspiring logo:
Really? Did they think that would inspire confidence?
But to be honest I came pretty close to needing their humble (but assuredly well-qualified) assistance about ten minutes later. Southeast of Chicago, just fading out of the listening area for WBEZ. They were airing Re:Sound, a show of highlights from the Third Coast Audio Festival, which in general is good, but on this particular day, it was a clip of Robert Krulwich, waxing poetic about Sean Cole, my second favorite radio producer of all time. I was so engrossed in it, and the signal was fading in and out. I was racing to find high points in the landscape, slowing when the signal came back in. Have you ever tried to find a high point in eastern Illinois? Erratic driving-- that's why I almost needed Bud and his fleet of ambulettes.
Not to put too fine a point on it or anything, but if I wasn't already in love with a another certain talented radio producer who also happens to be handsome and good with puppies....well, anyway...I have a not-so-secret radio crush on Sean Cole.
It started with the Quabbin Reservoir.
Then a seemingly innocent, but blindsidingly hilarious, Marketplace story about Clocky. I mean, who else says "hump" on public radio?
But really, its was summed up best on Re:Sound. Maybe you won't feel the way that I do, but I think you'll agree that it's techniques like his that make for enjoyable radio-listening.
And while you're at it, check out the actual documentaries that they have in the stacks at Re:Sound. It's so much better than reruns on tv.
Perhaps you remember my overindulgence in
peanut butter kisses last fall (and every other fall).
Ditto for Brach's Peppermint Nougats, for which I cannot seem to locate a picture online, and I cannot take one of my own as I ate every last one of them. And then moved in on the ones at my in-law's. I have wrappers, though! Every coat pocket is stuffed with wrappers.
Point being-- farewell nougatty goodness until next year. Too much of a good thing.
it started with this:
followed by a car ride:
Where the following ensued
the thing I didn't capture? All the good food. Allllll of the food. 8 kinds of cookies, four kinds of soup, three kinds of bread, a killer goat cheddar. Peppermint Nougats. Whitefish! Burgers. Fried cauliflower. Enchiladas. Perfection.
All of the pics are here:
Right now I'm stranded in MI until my car is fixed, spending my days "Working" on the couch. It will be almost two weeks by the time I leave. Heaven!
My first post of the New! Year! (more on that later) was going to be about all the things that have transpired since I last posted....weeeeeks ago. But while I was waiting for all 250 of the pictures to download off of my camera I started browsing music on itunes (and subsequently scamming it from limewire (shhh don't tell the feds!)). And when I went back to Firefox to find out more info on Microphones (the band) I saw THIS is my liitle google search box in the corner of my screen:
Apparently little evil elves made their way into my room while I was at dinner and were trying to dowload lazy-porn.
Or, the spam writers have found a way to wiggle into my search engine.
OR, when I was trying to relocate the wicked leather blazer that I thought I remembered seeing in a Sundance catalog, my poor typing skills came back to haunt me.
More on the holidays soon....