Tuesday, December 30, 2008

X-mas Files

Mr. H. reclined even further back in the big leather chair and sighed. An aura of complete satisfaction surrounded him.
“A gold foil-wrapped chocolate coin for your thoughts,” said Mrs. Hall. “I’m afraid, after all the Christmas shopping, that that is the only unit of exchange left in the house.” Certainly that was true- every electronics store within miles, either brick and mortar or virtual, had been scrutinized to within an inch of its lithium battery fueled life, for the latest and greatest in breakthrough technology. The video Yule log was blazing and the mechanical mood jellyfish swayed lazily on the end table. Every gift under the Christmas tree had been purchased for either dual core processing, a terabyte of storage or auto-loading software to control an army of anthropomorphic servo-driven drones.
Mr. Hall stared at his shiny new 47 inch LCD TV, let his eyes drift to the mini camcorder still in Christmas wrap, then returned to reading the instructions for his new GPS device for the big black car. He sighed again. “I’ll take that for a happy thought”, said Mrs. H.
Indeed, the air about Penguin Hall has been very cheerful for the last week or so. The best way to launch anything, whether it be a steamship or an evening, is with a fine bottle of wine, and that was exactly the way the Halls began their Christmas Eve repast. Happily, the toast was graciously provided by Mistress Katie and Master Erick, who had come by to celebrate the nativity with Mr. H. and Co. They were exceptional good sports about the traditional Wigilia dinner, diving into the sauerkraut soup and pierogies like old hands, and pausing only to dare each other to brave the stewed prunes. By the time the plates were cleared and the cookies and fruit brought out, everyone was too stuffed to enjoy them. In many countries, it is still believed that whatever happens on Wigilia has an impact on the following year. If that is true, then the following 365 days hold the promise for much warmth, happiness and good cheer.
Despite the rain early Christmas Day, there was still sufficient snow cover to qualify for a white Christmas, and after another short visit, Mr. Hall wished his children a happy New Year and took Master Erick to the airport to see him off. The rest of the Hall’s residents embarked on a movie marathon for the remainder of the day, determined to bathe in large-scale LCD glory til their eyes bled. Then clutching their electronic tribbles and battery-driven dartguns to their fuzzy bathrobes, the children toddled off to dreamland once more. Merry Christmas to the Hall and to all, a Good Night!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Perusing the local paper, the Monitor found this little tidbit in the Syracuse Post-Standard recipe contest and cookie exchange. Requesting recipes with family and cultural interest, they printed thirteen they felt exemplified the spirit of the holiday and the cultural diversity present in central New York.
The Monitor would like to applaud the Post-Standard's choice of Cookie Recipe Winner in their December 10th issue, recognizing them for: going against the tide of thinking that awards the froth of mere innovation and technique, for acknowledging the long ignored fact of the common man's basic lack of any sort of useful knowledge regarding general baking utensils or history, and for boldly leading the next generation into the blissful acceptance of mediocrity and inexactitude.
When congratulated for her winning recipe, Nanette Szczesny credited her credentials; "I have a degree in Home Ec from SUNY and am fully accredited in Boiling Water (201) and Choosing Which Wooden Spoon to Use, as well as a double major in Advanced Napkin Folding. I spent an intense two years studying under the tutelage of noted authority Daniel Davis, the butler on 'The Nanny'" (ed. note: Mr. Davis is not actually a butler but plays one on TV.)
Ms. Szczezny did express some regrets regarding her submission; "My choice of an all-white cake was a safe one, I know. I thought long and hard about the more controversial statement I would be making using my first choice of a yellow cake with a white frosting. I wanted to say- hey, it's all about the adventure, and after all, it's a new world, Barack Obama is our new president- I mean, it's all just so coming together now, that I thought, maybe, just maybe, that even my little voice in my little kitchen could be a part of all that." She wiped away a tear, shook off her emotion and went on.
Color choices notwithstanding, her unorthodox preparation methods ended up being what set her recipe apart. Eschewing the traditional method of frosting the entire cake first and then cutting it- she chose to cut the cake into 40 minuscule pieces and frost and jelly them individually.
"My feelings on this are that, like, making a dessert is more than just throwing some mundane ingredients into a bowl and calling it baking; it's like a zen thing, you know. Cutting each piece, then dotting each tiny piece with precision, taking excruciating time and effort and patience to prepare all the tiny little pieces, instead of slavishly doing them all at once- this focuses my mind on the actual art and craft of baking, and makes me, like, you know, a better person. Better than, say, that other guy."
When asked what she thought of the winning recipe, Mrs. Hall replied she was speechless.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Colleen Captivates Colbertnation (New Yorkers yawn)

Tossing back her auburn locks and flashing a smile as she boarded the bus, Mistress Colleen and her friends Mara and Sarah, headed down to the city to attend the taping of The Colbert Report. The trio had planned to make a day of it and spent most of the time simply enjoying the unseasonably mild weather and the unreasonably wild crowds at Rockefeller Center. The girls danced, spun and shouted; and at one point, it is reported that Mistress Colleen actually threw her hat up in the air, a la Ms. Mary Tyler Moore. The populace at large was largely unmoved.
Securing a cab, they arrived in time to snag a spot up front in the line to get into the studio, and promptly began eating the sushi they had squirreled away. The local cadre of homeless sniffed, turned up their noses and shuffled away; thereby squelching the old saying that beggars either can't (or won't) be choosy.

Sitting in the audience prior to the show, the trio managed to spark a connection between themselves and the host, and a lively conversation ensued regarding his high school days and his former geekiness. Mr. Colbert then displayed his fluency in geekspeak by rattling off several Dungeons and Dragons expressions and closing by offering the trio the Vulcan hand gesture for "Live Long and Prosper", thereby causing our little band to nearly swoon. Residents of the five boroughs present nodded off.
Bidding Times Square a fond adieu, the girls headed back to the bus station, light as a feather and full of stories. While New York may be the city that never sleeps, this trio recognized the need to get some shut-eye before work, so racing the last ten blocks on foot, they managed to just make the bus back home to Syracuse in time. Manhattanites effected not to notice and continued snubbing each other unabated.

Tell your friends!