Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hitting Black Bottom

Sleepaway camp.

For my daughter, it's a totally new experience this time around.
Intensive soccer training instead of arts and crafts, and nighttime yoga instead of campfires.
Nutritional workshops instead of goofy skits, and hyper-competitive athletes instead of cliques of camp veterans.
This is one serious place.
But she has her teammates as roommates, and a cell phone to stay connected*.
She'll be fine.

For me, it's the exact same drill as last year and the year before that and the year before that.
She's gone.
I'm a wreck.
The oven's on.
I'll be 10 pounds heavier by Friday.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

Gittes: A memorial service was held at the Mar Vista Inn today for Jasper Lamar Crabb. He passed away two weeks ago. 
Mrs. Mulwray: Why is that unusual?
Gittes: He passed away two weeks ago and one week ago he bought the land. That's unusual.

Somehow, this particular exchange really resonated, given that we were watching the movie outdoors in a Los Angeles cemetery.

Along with hundreds of other people (living and dead), blankets, lawn chairs, various smokeable substances, wine bottles, a DJ spinning atmospheric background music, and all kinds of picnic suppers.

The sun went down, the palm trees were silhouetted against the moon, and the side of the mausoleum lit up.

The crowd cheered as the opening credits rolled. John Huston, buried in this very spot, got an especially loud round of applause. As Morty (the coroner) says in the movie:

"Only in LA*."

Naturally, we had a theme picnic:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The River Wild

In 1994, the scariest thing on the river was Kevin Bacon.

In 2012, it was my daughter in the front of the raft singing "Mr. Cellophane" at the top of her lungs. Deer fled in terror. Salmon stopped spawning.

And our vacation had just started.
Four days. Thirty five miles down the Rogue River.
Roaring rapids.


Rustic lodgings.

Time on the water.

Time to just chill.

Hearty, delicious food.

Zero cell service. No wifi. Not even a pay phone*.

Even so, we loved it.


Or, to get a taste of our experience at home, try the following.

Wrap everything you own in thick, waterproof rubber bags, then jump in the bathtub fully clothed.
Look for bald eagles.
Climb rocks.
Have some wine.
Hang out with your family.
Make new friends.
Turn off all the lights at 10pm.
Sleep better than you have in a long time.

Here are some recipes, one from each lodge we visited, to get you started with the eating part.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Carpool Wars: Battle Brunch!

"Hi. Is Susan Rice available?

Um, an old classmate of hers actually, but I'm not calling about her donation to the capital campaign.  She's clearly been very busy and I'm sure she'll get around to mailing that in soon.  This is a diplomatic emergency and I'd like some UN peacekeepers, please.

Yes, I'll hold.


Oh. Well, maybe you can help me. I'm afraid there've been some fairly serious voting irregularities here in Encino, and...

No, not Allepo.  Encino.  We've got a situation and it may be time to get Jimmy Carter involved.

Where do I even start? OK, first of all, there was this huge platter of bacon...

No, this wasn't a matter of cultural insensitivity to Muslims, it was a matter of bribing the electorate.

What's that? Oh, about five pounds.
Pecan wood smoked.

I know, right? Completely unfair tactics.
We were able to trace it back to an outside instigator from Maryland. She's a known bacon zealot, probably in your database there somewhere.

Ha! Of course there's none left that I can send you as documentation. The whole brunch was almost destabilized by fighting over the last few pieces.  Frankly, we were lucky there wasn't more bloodshed between these formerly friendly neighbors.

But that's not the big issue.
You see, the very integrity of Carpool Wars has been tarnished by a deliberate balloting miscount.  Somehow, everybody won again*.

Yes, I'll hold.

Mrs. Clinton?

So sorry to trouble you, but...
Ah ha. I see. More of diplomatic move, you say? Future in the state department?

You know, you could be right.
Thank you so much, Hillary. Good luck with Syria."

Battle Brunch really was one of the best Carpool Wars yet. Contestants each entered one savory and one sweet dish, without any further limitations.   Huge points for creativity, flavor and presentation all around.

But we still want someone impartial to count the votes next time**.

The savories:

Baked eggs with kale on Joe's Brick with Tom's Red Eye Gravy

Chicken Enchiladas

The sweets:

Banana Nut Muffins