December 29, 2008

Which Writer Would You Like to Meet? My Choice Is...

By meet, I mean sit with for several hours just talking.

Some of my favorite writers are known as A-#1 curmudgeons or ego-bags. I know many love Kurt Vonnegut, as he has earned his reputation as a great writer. I have watched interviews of him, and know he know writing, but I get the impression he thinks plenty of himself. I'll read what they write, but don't care to share a bottle of wine with them.

My choice... Edward Lear. Not because he was the deepest of poets, but because he wrote some delightful, happy poems. Their consequence is not adding to the study of poetry, but are appreciated by ordinary readers. Often excellence and hoi polloi popularity are not one unit.

I do not dream of being Shakespeare, John Keats, or C.S. Lewis (love all). My own writing is much more populist and humorous (or, rather, such is what I work toward), and Lear is among those I revere (rhyme intended).

Who else... probably more of the classic writers than modern ones. The moderns are often embroiled in making statements, or murked in full-fledged publishing machines. That is fine, but a pure writer is hard to find in this muddy scene.

Mark Twain is another, if he could be real and not in character. I think he had everything a good writer could be... craft, skill, depth, sense of humor, and an ability to repeat quality. He was no one-hit wonder.

Bill Watterson is a possibility, and still alive. He drew and wrote Calvin and Hobbes. Maybe Charles Schulz. I see both as genuine writers, not just quippests. Schulz took merchandising his characters to the hilt, but seemed to hold onto the quality of what his characters stood for.

December 26, 2008

Worth Half of Liechtenstein's Otmar Hasler: 14,600 Times of Pure Brockeim-mania

Brockeim is listed 14,600 times in Google?

Look at this link:

All of this from what? A few book reviews, this blog, and a daily nonsense blog?

Compare this to current head of Liechtenstein, Otmar Hasler, at just over 30,000 results. To think, from Google's perspective, I'm worth half of that.

Even closer in the result count is Yaren, the de facto capital of Nauru.

December 25, 2008

Have a Double Espresso Christmas

A double espresso for you all. Made by me, just for you, except I had the pleasure of drinking it.

That's not much of a Christmas gift, I know, but, given this forum is global, and I am handicapped by anonymity, that is the best I can do.

Still, my wish is that your Christmas is as warm as this drink, as sweet as its crema, as bold as its taste, and as energizing as its caffeine.

Christmas is about one new life, born humbly, ready to live so that it may die and rise from the dead. No ordinary life this was, but God incarnate, Jesus Christ.

See today's Christmas-themed Bits of Nonsense. No nonsense this time.

Merry Christmas.

Keep up with me directly on Facebook.
See pictures, a video, and more.

December 21, 2008

Ordinary Picnics and Marriage Proposals Will Be Better With Sugar Cane Stalk Plates, review, Stalkmarket 10-Inch Heavy Duty Dinner Plate, 25-Count

Ordinary Picnics and Marriage Proposals Will Be Better With Sugar Cane Stalk Plates

Stalkmarket 10-Inch Heavy Duty Dinner Plate, 25-Count Packages (Pack of 12)

Thick and resilient, these paper plates hold what's under them. While manufactured from environmentally kind sugar cane stalks, the purchaser wants to know whether or not they are sturdy enough to withstand a 12-course picnic en route to proposing to his beloved.

They are.

With one plate used atop another to retain the freshness of each course (and to hide all surprises), the future fiancé can be confident that nothing will soak through or leak.

The first course, in keeping with picnic tradition, needs to be potato chips. Three chips. The third one is broken in half and shared.

The second course is cheese, four kinds (sharp cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, and brick), cubed, with toothpicks, laid on their side to look like spokes on a wheel.

The third is simple: whole wheat bread, toasted, cut in triangles. The fourth are honey baked ham slices, cut small into heart shapes.

For an interlude, the fifth course is a sweeter, palate cleansing taste, try concord grapes, cooled.

The sixth course is chicken. Use wings which look like small drumsticks. No more than four wings should be served.

Twin desserts make up courses seven and eight: chocolate chip cookies, crunchy, two, each broken in half, with end touching. The next dessert is lemon pudding.

The ninth course is a note, saying sweetly how much you love her. Few words are necessary.

Finally, the course which will make the afternoon worth the effort: a single diamond ring, with "Will you marry me?" written in chocolate syrup, and revealed when ready. I will presume she will say yes, justifying the need for the next course, two breath mints.

The final course involves no preparation at all, and is a cell phone, so she call her mother.

One plate remains. What is served next is not for this review to say.

Any picnic can appreciate these fine plates. The most special of picnics can rely on them.


December 20, 2008

Wine Rack or Book Case, Wine Box Stand Carries Its Weight: review, Pinzon 3-liter Wine Box Stand

Wine Rack or Book Case, Wine Box Stand Carries Its Weight

Pinzon 3-liter Wine Box Stand

Black steel. What else can support a man's life? This Pinzon 3-liter Wine Box Stand carries a youth through his generation until he, at last, sets down all he has read the final time. As iron sharpens iron, this wine rack highlights what is important, what will further sharpen a man's perspective and skills in navigating the breathing world. These books give him definition along the way, a frame and mirror of where he has been and where he is going.

Four legs, with feet reminiscent of the ones Little Lord Fauntleroy wore, raise the device a half foot. Equally delicate and discrete are the four buttresses on each side, allowing books to stand ready to read.

Built to display boxed wine, a drink few are proud to flaunt, yet on everyman's desk, on my desk, it hosts five books to guide a man from youth to eternity.

Five Books
1 - A collection of nursery rhymes and tales to give a young boy wonder. I recommend the classic Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever (Giant Little Golden Book), or Edward Lear's The Complete Nonsense Book.

2 - Robert Louis Stevenson Seven Novels Complete and Unabridged (Robert Louis Stevenson Complete and Unabridged), so that the boy will taste adventure. If Stevenson is unavailable, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (Modern Library Classics), is an excellent start.

3 - A book of etiquette, to give him sophisticated grace and courtesy. Only one book will do, Emily Post's Etiquette.

4 - A blank diary (try: Monet in Normandy Blank Journal), to record his life as adult, his adventures and dreams of adventure. While a simple spiral bound, college ruled notebook satisfies this need, something perfect bound, on acid free paper will look better and last longer for the sake of posterity.

5 - A Bible (try: Zondervan NIV Study Bible, Personal Size), to prepare him to meet God. This is my choice, but recognize others may prefer the Koran. The unbelieving man can choose Poor Richard's Almanac.

Whether a book stand or wine rack, this Pinzon wine box rack adds class to any home.


December 17, 2008

For a Speedy, Consistent Cup of Coffee, Find Your Way to Keurig: Review, Keurig B60 Special Edition Gourmet Single-Cup Home-Brewing System

For a Speedy, Consistent Cup of Coffee, Find Your Way to Keurig

Keurig B60 Special Edition Gourmet Single-Cup Home-Brewing System

With perspective in place, this Keurig single-cup brewer earns it weight.

Consider quickly what this is: a small office or home single-cup coffee maker. Consider then what it is not: a replacement for a state-of-the-art espresso maker.

I use, thanks to my employer's choice, K-cups from Caribou Coffee, a coffeehouse chain. The brewer pierces a hole on the top and bottom, and pushes hot water through. It is much like any drip coffee maker. K-cups can be purchased through other coffee vendors, and reusable K-cups are available as well.

With the K-cups, each cup is exactly the same. The flavor becomes predictable, but that is resolved easily with a trip to an offsite shop for a cappuccino.

Per cup, this is expensive. The quality is fine, as is convenience. If you want to save a buck, buy a coffee press. If speed is your game, start here.


December 10, 2008

Negative Commenter Honors Brockeim's Bodum Chocolatiere Review

A strange honor came around this morning when I noticed a review ("The Sad Maiden and Only Voyage of the Bodum Chocolatiere") I recently wrote had an intriguing comment. Followers of my nonsense blog will catch the reference.
"A dorkier post I have never encountered. Are you attempting sophistication? A frustrated poet want-to-be? Sounds like something Frasier Crane would say but as a statement about the ridiculousness of his character." -- Amazon commenter Karen Wolf
I replied that I was glad she caught on. Sure, she intended it as insult, but, in many ways, it means my readers understand my reviews.

Partly, I am completely sincere. The vignettes happen to be true, as is my emotional response found in this review. I adapt the vignettes somewhat, keeping the product as the main element and changing a few things like names and locations. Important to me is the essence of the event, with a wink toward impressionism.

Partly, though, and Wolf might agree, is how my reviews parody the ultra-serious tone sometimes found in wine reviews. This is not saying there are not many nuances to be found in good wine, but there is a pretension among some reviewers. There's a language to it that begs of literary-esque overtones, with an undertone of the Emperor's New Clothes.

What Wolf missed is the satire in the midst of it all. As I read her comment, she thinks I'm looking at what I'm doing straight-ahead, trying to sound intelligent, and that is quite all right by me. Her December 1, 2008 review is not unlike mine in structure. She had high expectations of a product, told the story of its use, how it disappointed her, and her solution.
Over the Door Purse Storage Rack
I was so excited about this when I first got it. But since then 4 clips cracked right in half. Once while adjusting it and the others simply by the weight of the purse or bumping a purse while walking by. I am trying to figure out a way to fashion my own hooks. Shouldn't have to, though.
And if you are interested, you can read more about the Bodum Chocolatiere Glass Hot Chocolate Maker/Frother

December 08, 2008

December 06, 2008

On Writing... Loves and Not Loves

I love finding a phrase that dances,
an image that finds something new in the ordinary,
the telling of a story that before was stuck in my head.

I do not like the insecurity that comes with showing it to people,
the realization that perfection was only for Shakespeare,
that I have trouble thinking past five pages.

November 23, 2008

November 08, 2008

Coffee Love

Coffee love, a panning look at a cup of beauty at a coffeeshop bookstore... with a local folk singer covering "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay" by Otis Redding and "Blowin' In the Wind" by Bob Dylan.

Useful in Efficient Breakfasts of Eggs, Cereal and Coffee: Review, Pinzon White Ceramic Butter Keeper

Useful in Efficient Breakfasts of Eggs, Cereal and Coffee
Pinzon White Ceramic Butter Keeper

These years in a small home have created a tension between sophisticated dishware and space. When I can manage both, all is balanced and good.

While a butter keeper to some, I have in this a convenient all-in-one breakfast dish. I began with a hardboiled egg set in the handle, snug until a knock from the butt of my knife provided me the first taste of morning. The small bowl where water is usually poured held my raisin bran, limiting my portion and saving my diet. A toasted raisin bagel on the side complimented all.

Proper breakfasts are always finished with coffee, and the butter keeper assisted in this as perfectly as it did for the egg and cereal. A rich French roast darkened the dairy white cup. A few drips of whole cream hid beneath the surface after my spoon moved the coffee carefully. Coffee swirled with majestic white ribbons finding more than juncture. Fading quickly into one smooth color, my breakfast was ending with an alert mind and satisfied palate.

May your kitchen be as efficient and artistic as can be with a Pinzon Butter Keeper.


Cups on a Shelf: Join the Brockeim Coffee Klatch

See the right side "Cups on a Shelf"? Follow this blog by clicking "Follow this blog." Simple as that. Then, buy lots of things through my advertisers (including my cool mug). Coffee... the good stuff... costs money you know.

From Mud to Elixir: Coffee Press Quietly Creates Pleasure: Review, Pinzon Contemporary 8-Cup Coffee Press

From Mud to Elixir: Coffee Press Quietly Creates Pleasure
Pinzon Contemporary 8-Cup Coffee Press

Coffee grounds like tiny pebbles huddled not knowing their fate, their future for the wave to rush down upon them. Filtered water, boiled and poured down, pushed the grounds away from gravity's rest into a new mixture. The world, at least the portion in this room, changed as two things became better as one.

With the Pinzon Coffee Press, all was allowed in silence. No machines hissed and beeped unpleasantly. Nature remained undisturbed. My hound dog barely gave notice while he snoozed this Saturday morning, and would have been entirely asleep if he had not heard my grin. But I smiled and he lifted his disinterested head to remind me it was before noon.

This coffee press offers quick and quiet delivery of a drink known to all. It will not make the beans grow differently, or add cream and sugar for you. It presses coffee... wonderfully.


November 03, 2008

Helps Remind Birthdays and Coffee Dates at 'TH DAIRY' review: Fire Engine Fun Toothpick Candle Set

Helps Remind Birthdays and Coffee Dates at 'TH DAIRY'
Fire Engine Fun Toothpick Candle Set
TH DAIRY. That's what I needed. Just seven letters, but I had eight, plus a firefighter hat. An 'E' would have been a nice touch, but ultimately unimportant for my uses.

I had no pencil, no paper, but I had a lighter and these candles, and a need to remember where I was to meet my dear Nancy for coffee in the morning. Our plans changed with the falling rain, taking us from a sunny autumn walk in the woods, to a Saturday in a coffee shop. She called Friday evening during a weekend-long storm, told me quickly as the power went out, and my cell phone coincidentally died.

I lit the 'B' and arranged the remaining letters to spell TH DAIRY, short for "The Java and Dairy Co.," a cafe with booths designed to look like cow stalls. When the morning shone light on everything, I wanted to remember.

We met, and lingered through French roast, as the rain poured down the window, until the clouds broke at noon.

When the electricity goes out, and no birthday is in sight, consider using the letters to remind you of the chance to meet your love.


October 23, 2008

Light Reading in the Guest Room, Please

Online somewhere, someone asked about guest room reading.

Light reading is necessary in guest rooms. If a guest chooses to read a long book, what good are they as guests? If the book is drowning in drear, they leave depressed. What good was I as a host?

My suggestions
Mark Twain short stories
Arthur Conan Doyle (agreeing with the one post I read)
John Grisham
Stephen King
Agatha Christie
Edward Lear
Guinness Book of World Records
James Thurber
An atlas
Poor Richard's Almanack (Franklin)
Collection of baseball statistics
2-3 volume encyclopedia

October 22, 2008

Looking for Resolutions, Not Revolutions

No coffee, no romance this time around. Just looking at the anger in this world, in a melancholic state as I think people worry more than act....

I read the polls are telling us people are worried about the economy. I am not. Not the war in Iraq, or even terrorism. Whether a candidate is making history, making money, or making whoopee, I am unconcerned. I will vote based, in part, on how I believe the candidates will do, but, I am not worried.

I do not care about most of what is in the news about each candidate and their VPs. I am tired of the hate spewed by some supporters of each, and avoid the topics.

I don't care who wins the World Series, the price of gas, or the weather. I want my team to win, lower prices, and warm weather, but not enough to worry.

My wallet is fine, I am safe, and my home is adequate. Other people are hungry. I am not in danger. Other people face gunfire. It is chilly here, but others are homeless.

The posturing about life's trials does both me. We complain about our lives, but there are those with more difficult trials who do not need a protest or blog entry, but someone to buy them lunch or give them a job.

Iraq, the economy, the political scandal of the week is not worth my worry.

What is, and what can worrying do to fix it?

looking for resolutions, not revolutions

October 19, 2008

Lifts the Meal to Sublimity. review: Alessi Sea Salt, Coarse, 2.83-Ounce Grinders (Pack of 6)

Lifts the Meal to Sublimity
Alessi Sea Salt, Coarse, 2.83-Ounce Grinders (Pack of 6)
No phantasm, nothing eerie about the friendly, warm mist lifting from the gentle mound. The concise hills, like sandy camels kneeling in petition of an oasis, were baked and split Russet Burbank potatoes sending a steaming waft as a signal for butter, and for salt. A quick slip of a smooth knife delivered a melting slice of yellow cream.

A sprinkle from a common table shaker would not do. Not with a filet recently from the grill waiting. Not with a 1994 merlot resting before pouring. Not with green spring peas buttressing the steak. A plebeian salt could not do.

Salt ground from coarse to useful fell into invisible crevices, engaging the potato into evoking flavor. The filet, the merlot, the peas were better for having shared the plate with the potato. No more can be said for this simple salt's necessity. This is what it does. Nothing more.

May your potato's request be met with salt ground at the moment before dining.


Brockeim Nonsense on Mugs and T-shirts

Some of these bits of nonsense are now available on mugs and t-shirts. More coming. Remember, mugs declaring duck wisdom must be worthy of your coffee.

October 06, 2008

Shotgun Start at the Golf Match

The men stood warily, yet focused at their tees. Clubs stretched out, feet steady, ready to begin the 18 holes, intensity and tension filled the air.

"Gentlemen... at you tees. Ready, set, swing!"

The shotgun rang out.

Eight men swung with a mighty unified whoosh downward like Viking warriors rowing into battle, then upward, crashing into the ball, setting it forth toward Heaven, piercing the clouds on their way. Heaven thought better of this, throwing the balls back toward Earth as fast as gravity and inertia would take them, clipping trees before stumbling into a rolling thud into the sand...

September 02, 2008

Ordinary Coffee for My Closest Friends: review: Mr. Coffee Smooth Awakening, Whole Bean Coffee, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 6)

Ordinary Coffee for My Closest Friends
Mr. Coffee Smooth Awakening, Whole Bean Coffee, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 6)

Friends are the ones with whom I share my most ordinary coffee. When a guest in my home, if you drink coffee, I will serve you the best I have, with the finest cream. But I will soon also serve you the most ordinary of coffees, Mr. Coffee Smooth Awakening. This is a sign of respect and trust, knowing you are with me through every cup.

You might taste Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain your first visit, finely and newly ground to draw out the nuances of mild nut and chocolate. The tenth time, enjoy this much more average blend, as freshly ground, but more domestic. That is, as domestic as coffee might get in America.

When you leave my home, I want the scent lingering in your shirt reminding you of a conversation shared brother to brother. I want you to remember sitting on my porch at my breakfast table watching the neighbor walk her dog, and the elderly woman walking carefully to take in the morning paper. I want you to want to come back again next week for another visit when you can finish your story about how reading "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville did not deter you from becoming an accountant.

This is not as rich as espresso, not as nuanced as Kona, and has no layers of flavors like the Torani sauce delivers at the local coffeeshop. This is better than regular joe, but just as common. I have plenty to pour, and will pour often. Buy the Mr. Coffee Smooth Awakening, and may you too have a canister always full of beans ready to grind and friendship ready to share.


July 30, 2008

Ghirardelli Never Knew This Chocolate: review: Kellogg's Live Bright Bar, 4-Count, 4.9-Ounce Box (Pack of 4)

Ghirardelli Never Knew This Chocolate
Kellogg's Live Bright Bar, 4-Count, 4.9-Ounce Box (Pack of 4)

Peeling the wrapper from the sun-melted bar, I saw Chicago's heat showed it was stronger than naturally and artificially flavored chocolate. Hours at the door, waiting to be taken in, it was no match. Did the quality diminish in the swelter of mid-July, reduced by an eager delivery man's desire to relieve himself of product?

Tolerating the misshapen bar, having conformed itself to gravity's pull, I imagined a glorious vision of Ghirardelli or Godiva. What might the Kellogg's Live Bright bars have been compared to in their fully formed prime? Just my imagination, I learned in one bite. Nothing here would Domenico Ghirardelli recognize. It was an adequate, not satisfying flavor.

Deliberately, I chewed, longing to find in this brain health bar wisdom. I found mediocrity. It reminded me of a 1970s Marathon Bar that has missed its caramel filling, leaving behind the masticatory endurance test.

Not qualified to assess the nutritional result, I cannot say how the Omega-3 or other vitamins worked. I can say I enjoy chocolate Slim Fast more, and it goes down quicker. May you eat so well in your daily dining that supplements are unnecessary.

Taste a finer chocolate and worse tasting vitamin elsewhere.


July 29, 2008

The Sad Maiden and Only Voyage of the Bodum Chocolatiere: review: Bodum Chocolatiere Glass Hot Chocolate Maker/Frother

The Sad Maiden and Only Voyage of the Bodum Chocolatiere

Bodum Chocolatiere Glass Hot Chocolate Maker/Frother
Wrapped securely in giant bubble wrap, in a box within a box, she, my Bodum Chocolatiere, rested comfortably in a packaged womb as she found her way into my home. Her curves were undeniable, more svelte than the chocolate jugs made for ordinary use, bringing me hope. My use, though, was not plebeian.

Ground chocolate. Sugar. 2% milk. Vanilla. Filtered water. Heavy whipping cream. These were the ingredients of pleasure. These were to join as an elixir of morning ecstasy. These were what God designed, and what I would mix.

Mechanically, as I swished the plunger, all blended, but inefficiently. Chocolate powder remained at the bottom, unreached by the swirl liquid. At the top, other problems ensued: partially harmonized flavors pulled out with the plunger. All grace was lost as hot chocolate spilt upon my counter.

Though my struggle was true, my recipe was sure, and so, when all was meted generously between my Monday brunch guest and I, we enjoyed.

Was a better method of preparation available? Could the spillage be averted through a careful and exact portioning of ingredients? This I will not know. While drawing water to rinse, she clashed with a favorite coffee mug and left this world in several pieces.

Hot chocolate deserves to made with ease, and the Bodum Chocolatiere was not easy. Her virtue was her sophistication, but her vice was her fragility. She was beautiful to see, but not sturdy enough to love me back. There are better ways to make the hot chocolate you need.


July 01, 2008

The Hunting of the Snark: What I tell you three times is true.

Not normally snarky, nor appreciating those who pride themselves in such narcissism, I noticed Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem in the news and decided to post the true snark. I have bolded the quoted line in stanza one.

The Hunting of the Snark
by Lewis Carroll

Fit the First - The Landing

"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.
"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true."

The crew was complete: it included a Boots--
A maker of Bonnets and Hoods--
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes--
And a Broker, to value their goods.

A Billiard-maker, whose skill was immense,
Might perhaps have won more than his share--
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,
Had the whole of their cash in his care.

There was also a Beaver, that paced on the deck,
Or would sit making lace in the bow:
And had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck,
Though none of the sailors knew how.

There was one who was famed for the number of things
He forgot when he entered the ship:
His umbrella, his watch, all his jewels and rings,
And the clothes he had bought for the trip.

He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pairs of boots--but the worst of it was,
He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to "Hi!" or to any loud cry,
Such as "Fry me!" or "Fritter my wig!"
To "What-you-may-call-um!" or "What-was-his-name!"
But especially "Thing-um-a-jig!"

While, for those who preferred a more forcible word,
He had different names from these:
His intimate friends called him "Candle-ends,"
And his enemies "Toasted-cheese."

"His form in ungainly--his intellect small--"
(So the Bellman would often remark)
"But his courage is perfect! And that, after all,
Is the thing that one needs with a Snark."

He would joke with hyenas, returning their stare
With an impudent wag of the head:
And he once went a walk, paw-in-paw, with a bear,
"Just to keep up its spirits," he said.

He came as a Baker: but owned, when too late--
And it drove the poor Bellman half-mad--
He could only bake Bridecake--for which, I may state,
No materials were to be had.

The last of the crew needs especial remark,
Though he looked an incredible dunce:
He had just one idea--but, that one being "Snark,"
The good Bellman engaged him at once.

He came as a Butcher: but gravely declared,
When the ship had been sailing a week,
He could only kill Beavers. The Bellman looked scared,
And was almost too frightened to speak:

But at length he explained, in a tremulous tone,
There was only one Beaver on board;
And that was a tame one he had of his own,
Whose death would be deeply deplored.

The Beaver, who happened to hear the remark,
Protested, with tears in its eyes,
That not even the rapture of hunting the Snark
Could atone for that dismal surprise!

It strongly advised that the Butcher should be
Conveyed in a separate ship:
But the Bellman declared that would never agree
With the plans he had made for the trip:

Navigation was always a difficult art,
Though with only one ship and one bell:
And he feared he must really decline, for his part,
Undertaking another as well.

The Beaver's best course was, no doubt, to procure
A second-hand dagger-proof coat--
So the Baker advised it-- and next, to insure
Its life in some Office of note:

This the Banker suggested, and offered for hire
(On moderate terms), or for sale,
Two excellent Policies, one Against Fire,
And one Against Damage From Hail.

Yet still, ever after that sorrowful day,
Whenever the Butcher was by,
The Beaver kept looking the opposite way,
And appeared unaccountably shy.

June 17, 2008

Book Lover Mugs: Books are a friend which never imposes, but is always with you only slightly less intimately than God.

Books are a friend which never imposes, but is always with you only slightly less intimately than God. ~Brockeim.

Tipoe/s haPin mug (get it? Typos happen.)

Buy a mug today, and be drinking from it next week.

make custom gifts at Zazzle

June 11, 2008

Delicious Way of Making Popcorn: review: Jiffy Pop Popcorn Butter Flavored 4.5 oz. 24ct

Delicious Way of Making Popcorn
Jiffy Pop Popcorn Butter Flavored 4.5 oz. 24ct
I sipped Chardonnay one Saturday as a lone Jiffy Pop package laid relaxed on my counter, waiting for heat. As the evening gave way to night, and the wine found its better home, I found in my moonlit kitchen that I was its suitor. I had fire.

Like Chopin finding music, I discovered inspiration that brightened and enlightened my heart. Thoughts of hot corn, popped into a new shape, tickling my tongue, excited me into a rush. Heating the aluminum, shaking it from many angles, I danced, my smile shining up from the polyurethane floor.

For a minute, maybe two, nothing, until the first kernel said hello, rebirthing from harsh and hard to kind and soft.

The foil rustled softly like a fresh-pressed cotton sundress, as popping corn made its plea of escape. More, then silence. Escape was found with my lacerating finger piercing and pulling open its silver veil. Steam now relieved, I bathed in the scent of butter, until a wispingly swift move delivered me from wanting to eating.

Try Jiffy Pop. May you too have fire when the Jiffy Pop needs heat.


June 02, 2008

Great For Corn, Less So For Tiny Fences: review: Progressive Jumbo Corn Holder, Set of 8

Great For Corn, Less So For Tiny Fences
Progressive Jumbo Corn Holder, Set of 8
Three plastic soldiers stood guard before Cowboy Charlie, riding his trusty dinosaur, crashed through the yellow-fenced fortress. Seven corn holders held tall and fast as all available weaponry was tossed as the meager armory quickly emptied. Dire times these were as the stainless steel tines piercing the shallow dirt could hold no longer.

The dinosaur was tough, and Charlie was tougher. Inside the corn holder fence was his horse, and no scalawag plastic man was going to stop him. They did not. Not with only seven holders between them. The eighth was lost in the great Indian and Puppy War the day before, and might be under the leaf pile near the garage, unable to help. Seven mere holders were not enough, and charged Charlie did, restoring his horse to freedom.

A man, after all, should not be riding the range on a dinosaur.

When horse and rider met again, cheering was heard, and dinner was called, with grilled corn requiring the holders more than little boys' imaginary battles. These will secure your corn, if not fortresses, and are an excellent tool for working off an afternoon's playful appetite.


May 20, 2008

Sweetens Pastries and Long Waits for Bus Rides: review: 4" Stainless Steel Dredge Shaker With Handle

Sweetens Pastries and Long Waits for Bus Rides
4" Stainless Steel Dredge Shaker With Handle
On the brusque-brown sour-smelling log felled years before by Nancy's father, we sat with purpose. Ours, this day, was to wait for a bus which never came. But no Estragons were we, and the bus was no Godot. Happier sans school this shining day in May, we waited because of obligation only.

May's morning courted us with blooms and birds and baking. The baking was to be done at school, and we were making brownies, the kind with the pastry-style crust on top, with the shaking of gentle sugar.

My job was simple. Bring a sugar-ready dredge. That I had, packed in my backpack. Clearly, though, with no bus in sight, a better use was found.

My left hand splayed against the log, and I began to sprinkle, as if in unction toward the coming day of play, to outline my fingers. Nancy pressed her right hand atop of mine, and my flecking shaped a new design, a white silhouette of friendship.

Wind, rain, and ants have wisped and washed away evidence of that day, but, so long as Nancy's dad ne'er moves that log, I can bring out the dredge with new sugar to shake, and find again the day of waiting for a day in second grade that never came.


May 07, 2008

Cleans Shoes from Stolen Grapes: review: Colgate Cavity Protection Fluoride Toothpaste, Regular Flavor, 8.2-Ounce Tubes (Pack of 6)

Cleans Shoes from Stolen Grapes
Colgate Cavity Protection Fluoride Toothpaste, Regular Flavor, 8.2-Ounce Tubes (Pack of 6)
The glistened, moist Colgate's toothpaste slipped across my shoe. No shoe's tongue would taste the cool mint, though its clever scent tickled the air. My shoe was stained, it seemed, from the juice of fallen grapes stepped upon while wooing Nancy's summer affections.

Stepping where I dared step, to swipe, then deliver the ripest, rarest grapes from Mr. Schesta's vines, I enjoyed the perfect crime. His garden was well-known around the block, and his grapes were delicacies. The sun pierced the morning's pleasure, and, I, an able-bodied six year-old, knew in Mr. Schesta's garden grew the solution.

Sitting on the sidewalk, sucking on the purple fruit, I saw with horror lines of color on my once white shoes. Nancy, never nonplussed, smiled, and took me to the washroom to see that all would be well. A quick rinse, then the smallest amount of toothpaste on a new brush (I would take no chances), my shoes were soon wiped clean, whiter than when the morning began.

Nancy and I sat, and talked about oranges, until Mr. Schesta himself walked across the street. With three bags, and a grin, he handed us each a batch of grapes. "These will be better than the first," he said, then sitting with us, while we three talked more about oranges. He likes Valencias.

When in a jam, and grape juice threatens your summer, try Colgate's toothpaste.


March 28, 2008

Friendship Unbound: Kitchen Stories (2003) DVD reviewed

Friendship Unbound
Kitchen Stories (2003) DVD

Isak did not care to speak to Folke. Folke was not to speak to Isak. Such were the rules unspoken and otherwise. This is "Kitchen Stories," or, as this movie is known in Norway, "Salmer Fra Kjøkkenet."

Isak, as the subject of Folke's sociological research, offered himself up to be studied thinking a horse was to be provided, and when a toy horse arrived instead of a breathing one, on strike he went. Thus began their banal arrangement.

Things delved into a quiet silence, each respecting the other's space in the midst of themselves. Each watched the other. One took notes, the other remembered. Soon, they realized how similar they were: two single men doing little more than avoiding relationships, living alone.

Isak is a curmudgeoned older bachelor living in Norway, whilst Folke, also a bachelor, makes a living studying people like Isak. However, having never dialogued with his subjects, Folke, he never saw more them as more than moving objects to be charted and analyzed. Within a few cups of coffee, two lonely men become brothers, seeing there is something more important than a self-induced hermitage.

Their relationship develops with subtle sophistication, with Folke bringing in rare treats his elderly aunt sends him, and Isak, saving his friend from being run over by a train.

Like 84 Charing Cross Road, "Kitchen Stories" is graceful in its presentation and unfolding of phileo love.


February 28, 2008

Janis Joplin Comments on Literacy and Freedom of Speech

Freedom's just another word for something more to read.

If Janis Joplin was a book reader, no doubt, she would be a literacy advocate, and allow everything from JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye to the Bible in public schools.

Free books for all. Where's Andrew Carnegie when you need him?

Cyrano de Bergerac: Le Nez (The Famous Nose Scene)

Cyrano de Bergerac is a brilliant, tragic tale, a fictionalized account of a real man. Exaggerated, poeticized, and well-edited hyperbolic bio-play, is great literature.

Below is my favorite scene, with Gérard Depardieu as Cyrano, in which Cyrano is insulted by the other's weak acknowledgement of his nose's size and greater attributes. Angry, Cyrano taunts him with self-deprecatory remarks about his nose, in rhyme (often rhyming alexandrines).

Cyrano de Bergerac - Le nez
Acte 1, scène 4 du film Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)

February 24, 2008

Magnifies Words and Romance: review Classic Large 4" Magnifying Glass - 5-X Magnification - Black Frame

Magnifies Words and Romance
Classic Large 4" Magnifying Glass - 5-X Magnification - Black Frame

Not all magnifying glasses suit all purposes, but for mine, this 4" magnifier increased for me the sight of words, and of love.

Two seats back, behind me, in Miss Schramm's history class sat Nancy, the queen of the fifth grade. We passed notes that said to each other things meant for smiling, which we did. Pencils dropped conspicuously allowed us to lean and hand the note.

She liked me. That I knew. But would she, could she go with me after school to the Candied Apple confectionery store? I asked, and she returned a reply that took most of the 45 minute class to write. With all the rhymes and prose her 11 year-old mind knew, Nancy delivered in the smallest of print sweet exuberance. As her words were too tiny to read with my poor eyes, I realized in my backpack was the tool required. I used this device to examine the colors in butterfly wings in science class, fourth period.

If not for the assistance of my classic 4" Magnifying Glass, I may have gone to the Candied Apple alone. May all of your days look larger with this magnifier, and your candy store companions be as lovely.


January 17, 2008

Henri Cartier-Bresson on Creativity

At this blog, A portal into the mind of a writer

I found this quote:
The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box. Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)
And I responded:
As a writer, I think I fully agree. It hits on the quickness of perfect beauty, and the need to notice all of it, but we cannot.

That tragedy we can only endure, and try to seek the obvious beauty around us daily, and record what we can.

January 12, 2008

What Coffee Is: Romance and Comfort

As I posted in Orangette this afternoon:

Coffee is among the great elixers of mankind. Sugar, cream lift it, wraps it like a blanket surrounds a child on a coolish day. Freshly ground beans, water perfectly heated, and in a mug that fingers clasp as a lover clasps her mate... what coffee is.

She starts her post:
I’ve never been a big one for hot beverages. Oh, I do like a cup of coffee every now and then, as well as the occasional mug of hot water with a slice of lemon on top, but aside from that, meh, I could take it or leave it. Part of the problem, I think, is that I’m forever burning my tongue. It’s a tender little bugger. Having burned it so many times, I hardly even want hot drinks anymore. If I’m going to burn the darned thing, I figure, it should be for something more substantial, more filling, than just a dinky cup of coffee or tea. (No offense, of course, to you coffee and tea aficionados. Anyway, this means more for you! Hooray!)

Bag of Buttons Helps Mend Shirts and Remember Love: review Bag of Buttons 4 oz White

Bag of Buttons Helps Mend Shirts and Remember Love
We counted buttons. Six, or so, per shirt worn by my grandfather, long now passed. Gramma Nevely asked me to help, and we did, counting shirt by shirt, taking notes all the while. One morning, while Gram sipped coffee from a mug labeled, "World's Best Grampa," we counted 134.

Blues, whites (now, not as white, but saved just the same), and the occasional striped. Not many colors, but many styles of the same look. Grampa had his work look (the blue shirts), church look (the white shirts), and going to the country look (red and dark blue). The country meant the farm where my great aunt Nicelle lived, and so Grampa would don his flannels.

There were times a button would be missing. A spare was required, to be sewed with solemnly pleasure gingering by my Gramma, as if Grampa sat on the porch, reading Ellery Queen. Whatever color the original, the new one was white. Ironed, replaced in the closet, positioned perfectly on hangers, his shirt would be presented, waiting, wishing the man who owned them could once again.

One button fewer than you'll need in this life? Whether counting buttons, or sewing them on in the sweet memory of a long lover lost, you need a bag at the ready. When one is missing, try a bag of these basic white buttons. It'll sew what needs mending.

100th post

January 07, 2008

Ramekin Captures for Toads and Hearts: Review: Progressive International CLR-4 10-Ounce Porcelain Ramekins with Plastic Lids, Set of 4

Progressive International CLR-4 10-Ounce Porcelain Ramekins with Plastic Lids, Set of 4Nancy stood next to me, gaped-mouthed and grimacing. My newest catch, a baby toad, as small as a thumbnail, hopped frivolously in his temporary home, a ramekin. What she saw was grotesqueness-cum-animate, not seeing the vital pond world captured into a pure white ceramic zoo.

At six years old, beauty knew no limit with Nancy. Blonde, with curls that were strewn through fields and meadows, as lovely as wild, yet, playful as any spring-born fauna. Her joy enlivened me, as her smile kindly lifted first grade angst from all trouble. Bright, well-read... she knew all her letters, and her mother had read to her the entire "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle" series. What heart would not be endeared to a soul ever so sweet as Nancy's?

But, there I stood, rejected, as my newest friend--my amphibious patriot and I--saw Nancy's flirtatious smile diminish.

Our summer-long romance eked closely toward its brutal end, the playground days with Miss Audrey's Daycare now into its final dwindle. Mourn, I could not--not now as she turned her head from me.

As my heart soared into the empty memory of bliss gone by, Nancy whispered, "Look, there's another. We can catch it if we try."

And so we tried, with the ramekin ready on the draw. And we caught, with the ramekin in ready hand. And she smiled, with toads in a ramekin. Together we smiled for hours, sometimes looking at the toads, sometimes looking into each other's eyes, and sometimes nowhere in particular, and then, set them free.

Consider the Progressive International CLR-4 10-Ounce Porcelain Ramekins with Plastic Lids, Set of 4. Your creme brulee will be better enjoyed, and the love of Nancy may be secured.


January 02, 2008

You Say You Want a Revolution: 2008 Resolutions in Question

Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions?

Most resolutions are about relationships.

Spend More Time with Family & Friends
This should not be a resolution, but a fact. If not, why not?

Fit in Fitness
Aside for those with real disabilities, this should be easy. Got an hour for lunch? Walk for 40 minutes with a friend.

Slim the Bulge
Fat has a few things going on. You know the health benefits, but, if you are out of shape, there are other concerns. A little lack of fitness is one thing, but sloppy fat sometimes creates an undisciplined appearance. Right or wrong, the out of shape person might be seen as unfocused and lazy. Hard to be friends with someone such as that.

Quit Smoking
Illinois law says no smoking in most public places. It has gotten to the point that only smokers enjoy the company of those smoking, not counting the issue of cancer. Foster friends by cutting the tobacco weed in your life.

Enjoy Life More
Crabby people aren't fun, now are they? Be joyful.

Quit Drinking
This is not for the occasional glass of wine crowd, but the cheap six pack crowd. Nothing wrong with cheap beer. There's everything wrong with that being a modus operandi of life.

Get Out of Debt
Better financial management means more freedom. Short-term pain, long-term fun with friends. Besides, if you quit smoking and drinking, you'll have enough cashola to attend to debt.

Learn Something New
I recommend Bits of Nonsense Come in Threes as your source of new thought.

Help Others
Funny how this needs to be a resolution. Not doing so is selfish.

Get Organized
Microsoft Excel. Yes, the dreaded Microsoft. By becoming organized, you will find time for friends and family, that goal above. With no debt, and a cleaner, fitter lifestyle, you'll be able to encourage them to join you in helping others. Enjoying life, then, becomes much easier.

While not on nearly enough New Year's Resolutions lists, reading regularly is important. And, if ideas come along, posting responses here are invited.