Showing posts from August, 2011

Beignets - French Doughnuts in your kitchen or your mind?

So it's like my birthday. I'm going to be 17 tomorrow... and mom & dad gave me a World Market gift card to ease the pain of spending another birthday in America. I promptly drove over to High Point road and entered the market like a drug feign needing her next fix. It's how I balance the whole reality of finding one's self in a world she doesn't belong in. As Sam Tyler might say "Whichever strange place you find yourself in, make that your home".

So I exited with my drugs. Some Japanese apple sake, a couple bottles of Belgian monk made beer, some Italian wine-infused sausage, several British chocolate bars, and something I've been wanting to try for quite awhile. Cafe Du Monde's Beignet Mix. So you might be wondering why I've not bought it before? Well, first of all, deep-fried doughnuts aren't the healthiest thing in the world (but it's my birthday, so 'what the hell!?') and this mix is from the French Quarter, not France- …

Hanging Rock State Park's Deadly Hiking and Camping

What drives a rational woman who is normally adept at sitting behind a computer and sipping on her cheap coffee, to drive to Walmart and buy a tent, then drive to some huge rock and live like a cave-woman?

Once there was pre-historic mankind, oft thought of as primitive creatures roaming the Earth who then evolved over time to ride in cars, live in homes, watch television, surf the WiFi, and then one day out of the blue, says to himself, "lets relax and leave it all behind". "Let's go live as we did when we were less evolved!" "Let's go be cavemen in some rock up in the mountains!"

So I go off to Walmart where I buy a tent. We had to buy a tent because our current tent, a two person Arctic Xtreme isn't big enough for the two additional children we've acquired since our last camping trip. While in there I notice machetes for $6.00 and think to myself, what would most sane individuals do if they went camping? Buy a machete! So me, a 17x11 t…

Fiction Mania | The Book of Judith

Judy sat crouched in the corner, tears rolling down her face as her blood swollen lip, and bruises ached with intensity. A nightly ritual for her as her husband, Fernando, came home. This attack however was one of the worst. After finding out she had recently became impregnated by her drunkard of a spouse, Judith as her mother called her, endeavoured to escape without Fernando knowing, but ultimately, was caught mid-act, and wrestled back into capitulation. Judith knew she couldn't bring a child into this nightmare, so each morning when Fernando left for work, Judith would prepare for her escape. The instructions for her departure came by way of a single book, a 17th century leather bound novel called "gwallgofrwyd: tynged newid", or in English, "Fiction Mania: Destiny Changed.", that she had found in the attic by chance. It was an Welsh childrens' book, or so she believed, an epic about two children who use a device known as the Antithesis Machine, an anc…

Fanciest Mickey D's Ever? | European Café McDonald's

So I mentioned it before the trip, but had to share. On the last day of our trip we hunted down, Orlando's uniquely one-of-a-kind European Cafe McDonald's- one of three themed Bistro Gourmet McDonald's exclusive to the Disney World area.

This new McDonald’s features in-house chefs providing such pleasures as gourmet pizzas, Panini sandwiches, coffees and delectable desserts.

The two-story restaurant, complete with a two-lane drive-thru, has the appeal of a European café and is outfitted with walls of glass windows encompassing the spectacular view of both Sand Lakes.

This was as close as I was getting to Europe on this vacation. In fact, oddly, it may have been the highlight of my trip. If I squinted real hard I could pretend I was Europe. Actually no I couldn't, this was nothing like the McDonald's in Europe. This was a bastardization of Europe, a Americanized impression of romanticized European fast-food; however, I didn't quite care. This is what a McDonald…

Lost in Austen : Watch it.

I've read it so many times now the words just say themselves in my head and it's like a window opening, it's like I'm actually there. It's become a place I know so intimately I can see that world, I can touch it.
Probably one of the most favorite things I've had a chance of watching in quite some time was ITV's mini-series called Lost In Austen. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. If you love Darcy, love Jane Austen, and if you love quirky time travel plots, then this is must. Better yet, they're making it into a movie for the U.S. market. Sadly it probably will lose some of it's greatness because it's Americanized, but go Netflix this version which is about 3 hours long. You won't regret it.

Mr. Bingley: We shall have 25 children and name them all 'Amanda'. Even the boys.
It stars one of my favorite British actors, Jemima Rooper, who is just wonderful playing a modern British woman who accidentally stumbles upon a door to the world of pride …

Escape from Lydia's Bridge | Haunted North Carolina

Here's an interesting day trip to Greensboro, for a hauntingly good time....

For the last eighty-eight years, a ghost named Lydia has been apart of Greensboro folklore, urban legend, and myth, mostly due in part to a single haunted bridge and tunnel erected in 1916 in the little suburb community of Jamestown. Lydia, who in real life was name Mary Lydia Jones, became such a folk hero in America that in 1966, D.C. based bluegrass band, The Country Gentlemen, immortalized the Lydia Bridge Ghost Story in the song "Bringing Home Mary".

I was driving down a lonely road on a dark and stormy night, When a little girl by the road side showed up in my headlights, I stopped and she got in the back and in a shaky tone, She said, "My name is Mary and please won't you take me home".
It's been several years since I last returned to Lydia's Bridge, and I felt it was time to return to this ghostly place that was a part of every young high school student's rite of…

From (a goat in a Argan Tree in) Morroco with Love...

As many of you know, my sister is somewhere deep within Morocco staring at goats. She sent us a lovely postcard of some goats in a Argan tree. Interesting thing about Argan trees is that they produce a fruit/nut which produces Argan oil. One of the rarest, and most expensive oils in the world. (Because the trees only grow in one place: Africa) Cool thing is, while it cost hundreds of dollars here in the States she can go up to one of the Berber women there and buy a coke bottle of the stuff to bring home to me. I will cherish it and keep it on a shelf to stare at.

The tree is a relic of the Earth's Tertiary Period, which ended about 1.6 million years ago, and it grows in only a few other places in the world. It is tenacious, withering and fruitless during extended droughts, and it lives as long as 200 years. So there was alarm that the Argania spinosa, as the tree is properly called, was headed for extinction, along with its precious goat-related oil. (cite:wikipedia)
So if you'…

"I Realize The Entire Horror Of My Nature" - Mankind

One of my more favorite hobbies as of late is watching French music videos. One in particular stuck out for me sung by an artist called Zazie. It got me thinking about how the song is an almost perfect description (within a few sentences) of our history as a species. While I do concede it does tend to show us in a not so glowing light, one can not argue the truth of the facts. The song begins at mankinds begining as cavemen and ends with man becoming "Gods" (Kings) [in their self belief] and through their idiocy and consumerism they become their own punishment as they destroy the earth and themselves. Armagedden musical art... or simply a metaphor for a breakup of a bad boyfriend? You decide. (or maybe you see it completely different?) Either way it's a really cool song:

I'm alone and then millions
At war whatever the season
I make love and the revolutions.

The king of illusions
I build the world my way
out of gold and concrete

I'm in denial, my reality
learned through t…

Give your child a better life... Leave them in Europe.

So this article got me thinking. While I doubt they were trying to better their children's lives by dumping them in Italy...

The mother, Caterina Remhof, 26, and her partner, Sascha Schmidt, 24,
abandoned the children after ordering a pizza at a restaurant in the northern town of Aosta on Sunday, according to police.
I'm wondering, how often it happens internationally? I mean we all grew up with movies and cartoons that depicted the downtroddened mother leaving a basket on somebody's door with a message that says "take good care of her" attached. Mexican immigrants often send their children ahead of themselves to better their lives. I'm just thinking with the state of the economy, the super poor health care in the U.S. and so many people being out of work, that if you were a mother what better thing could you do then abandon your child in a wealthy nation with low crime, great health care, and prosperous expectations. Sweden comes to mind.

I'm not suggesting …

My 8.6 Minute Bucket List

You know how they say your life flashes before your eyes when you die?

8.6 minutes. That's approximately the amount of time you have after your heart stops beating before brain function ceases. When we die, our eyes close, our body is paralyzed, and if we're lucky enough to die of old age; we will do so with loved ones standing over us, mourning, as we're lost for all time. But, we're not actually gone yet; not for 8.6 minutes. The brain continues to function for 8.6 minutes after the body dies. That's practically a lifetime to live through past emotions; a last poetic gift of the experiences and memories you've collected in this life. It will either be 8.6 minutes of tragic regret, or something so transcendental, maybe one last synapse will fire a final smile.

When I visited my friend Christie in Belgium, I noticed her bucket list taped to the desk. She, like myself is what you call “life addicts.” Us “lifers” spent the afternoon of my departure trying to find…

Hiraeth and The Homing Human - The Internal Calling

And I'd never in my life been so happy.

All my life I've wanted to see London. I used to go to English movies just to look at streets with houses like those. Staring at the screen in a dark theatre, I wanted to walk down those streets so badly it gnawed at me like hunger. Sometimes, at home in the evening, reading a casual description of London by Hazlit or Leigh Hunt, I'd put the book down suddenly, engulfed by a wave of longing that was like homesickness. I wanted to see London the way old people want to see home before they die. I used to tell myself this was natural in a writer and book-lover born to the language of Shakespeare. But sitting on a bench in Bedford Square it wasn't Shakespeare I was thinking of; it was Mary Bailey.

I come of very mixed ancestry, which includes an English Quaker family named Bailey. A daughter of that family, Mary Bailey, born in Philadelphia in 1807, was the only ancestor I had any interest in when I was a little girl. She left a sample…

I want to be an illegal immigrant. | Fake British Passports

See, I need to find me some local news producer wanting to do one of those undercover news stories to fund my pet project. I want to become an illegal alien, and I believe for a few thousand dollars I probably could pull it off. Basically you need a fake passport, and you're practically good to go. The cost? About $1500.00 and you too can fly to Europe, find employment and get free health-care. Sounds good, right? Skeptics are saying it can't be that easy! But it is. See here or here. You can easily order them online as 'camouflage passports'.

What's more is after talking to many of my friendly Nigerian scammer aquaintances, the way to go is "Student Visa". It's the real deal, and you can even work part-time. All you need is a bank account that "shows" you have the funds set aside for college, and an acceptance letter. Okay then, but where are all the Nigerians (regardless of their intention to actually go to school or not) coming up with th…

The Choker. Why so serious?

Learned an interesting tid bit the other day that just fascinates me. The choker, a woman's necklace- typically a ribbon worn tightly around the neck, is a fashion trend that is derived from the "Reign of Terror" during the French revolution when people were beheaded on the guillotine. The choker represents the slice mark of the blade.

As the Reign of Terror was winding down, social gatherings called "bals des victimes" or "victim's balls" became popular. It is thought that perhaps the balls were a cathartic means for people to freely express their emotions over the horrors of the Revolution. Basically, to get in to these functions you had to have had a relative who was beheaded. I like those odds! As with most scenes, members had a particular dress code known as "costume a la victime." Both sexes would wear mourning clothes or the plain, shabby attire they were left with in the wake of the upheaval. Women would wear red ribbons around th…

Le Royal Deluxe

Of course the quote below is the infamous line from Pulp Fiction where John Travolta's character explains how the American Quarter Pounder became Le Royal Cheese when it emmigrated to France.

Jules: Do you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France?
Brett: No.
Jules: Tell him, Vincent.
Vincent: Royale with cheese.
Jules: Royale with cheese. Do you know why they call it a Royale with cheese?
Brett: Because of the metric system? 
Of course more recently I watched the movie "From Paris with Love" where Travolta: a shoot-em-up American agent, takes a break from terrorism for a Royal Deluxe. The movie was complete crap, but that one darn ironic line has made me about mad for a Royal Deluxe since I've watched it. Craving it like a mad woman... Luckily I went on a 3.5 mile bike ride today, followed by a 1 mile walk and I decided it was time to allow myself McDonald's for lunch. Of course in the backwoods of central North Carolina, the closest I'll come to …

By the time you read this, I'll be gone. Love, Stella Artois.

To my love, Cooter.

My real name is Stella. Artois, yes, like the beer- not "Candy", which you have come to know me at the club. I of course wish we could have clarified this at the beginning of our relationship. My mother conceived me one night on a bar counter in Houston, next to NASA, in 1973, with a French engineer passing through town. We always referred to my non-existent father as "Pierre", but the truth is, mother never actually got his name during the one night stand. There's still an occasional twinkle in her eye when she recounts the story of that fateful night. Usually this occurs when she arrives to the part about his French accent, only to immediately frown upon realizing that he then disappeared, leaving her "knocked up", and was never heard from again. She always finishes the story with, "Stella, never trust the French, they're frogs!"

My mother arrived last Sunday for her usual visit, and as normal, through the course o…

Why We Fight and Why We Remember December 7 1941


This is the story of how my grandfather died. This is the story of war on earth. This is the story of the bravest man I knew: my grandfather.

Several years ago, almost a life-time away now it seems I stood there and watched my grandmother barely able to stand as she pressed her hand against the wall screaming and crying, reaching into the void for her husband. On the other side of that wall was my grandfather, a WWII veteran lost for all time in the void of space and time. His life-less empty shell of a body carried away for the last time in a casket by his grandchildren; loaded into a hearse and driven away to be cremated. But, grandpa was far from dead. There stood, in his absence: us, the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of a man who went to war, who risked his life, who gave up so much so that we could live. This however was little consolation for my Grandmother who was now so grief-stricken she cursed the wall and vowed to reach through it. If she could n…

Obesity: A New World of Possibilities

“...they eat with the greatest possible rapidity, and in total silence...”
-Fanny Trollope
“They wolfed down their food, cramming corn bread into their sloppy maws during meals that were devoured in silence, punctuated only by slurps, grunts, scraping knives, and hacking coughs. “
-Simon Schamaii
On Christmas day 1827, Fanny Trollope arrived in “The New World” from Europe, and wrote a detailed account of her travels and observations of the newly formed country and its people a mere fifty one years after its independence from England. One could argue, what Trollope witnessed was the early moments of a country doomed to an epidemic of obesity. Two words tend to stick out from her chronicles of her encounter with American cuisine and foods: “abundant” and “inferior”.

“...for excellence, abundance, and cheapness, can hardly, I should think, be surpassed in any part of the world, if I except the luxury of fruits, which are very inferior to any I have seen in Europe. There are no butchers…

Napoleon Bonaparte, a love story.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” is the epic phrase made famous by author Charles Dickens who used it to describe the time period of The French Revolution. In 1793 when the fictional character Sydney Carton of A Tale of Two Cities sacrifices himself on the guillotine for the love of his life, Napoleon Bonaparte age 24, had just begun to fulfill his legacy as a revolutionary. By 1795, in a maddening state of love, Napoleon had begun to rip apart the world and rebuild it in the name of Joséphine de Beauharnais; as no sacrifice was so great to prove his love. Indeed his internal revolution did bring out the best in him, and the worst. For Napoleon the lover and Napoleon the revolutionary were the same man unlike Sydney Carton and Charles Danay; and it is this distinction that would change the structure of France into a manifestation of Napoleon's heart.

'I am worried and unhappy. I feel numb. Come to me without delay. Only the sight of you will cure me. …