Archive for October, 2010

Feline Friday: Happy Halloween!


Did she scare you?  She scares me everyday.  Who knows when that paper bag will be replaced with my face?

Anyway, I hope everyone has a very happy Halloween.  And please don’t dress up your animal unless they like it.  Or unless you are going to put them in something hilarious of this nature:


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Wordy Wednesday: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I love sci-fi.  I’m a fan of aliens, evil robots, time travel, dystopia, good robots, and pretty much anything else that you would find in a galaxy far, far away.

Never Let Me Go is a story that, by description, seems to fall under the category of sci-fi.  However, Kazuo Ishiguro’s subtle storytelling makes this novel a quiet study of human nature, not a horrifying tale of technology gone wrong.

I don’t want to reveal too much– a great deal of the book’s impact lies in the nuanced way that the story unfolds.  I will tell you that it takes place in an isolated school full of parentless British children.  Sound scary?  It’s not.  They spend their days playing football, painting, writing poetry, drawing, gossiping– doing all the things that preteens do.  All the while, they have an incomplete understanding of some cryptic future that their teachers (or “guardians”) have explained in veiled terms.

For sci-fi, it’s very normal and very human.  It’s the story of emotionally confused children, one that would not be out of place in any other setting.  This is an integral part of the story, so I really won’t go on.  But I just want to emphasize that the author’s restraint ultimately shows a great deal about the characters and the themes at the end of the book.

I really loved this one.  Even though there were no evil robots.

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Tasty Tuesday: Vegan Kimchi Pancakes

For the last three months, I have been working in Koreatown, which is 95% awesome because I get to go out to lunch everyday and spend money I don’t have on super delicious Korean food!

The 5% of non-awesomeness comes from the fact that Korean food is not the most vegetarian-friendly of cuisines.  Even though every meal includes lots of delicious and interesting veggies, they’re often accompanied by chunks of meat or simmered in fish broth.  I had been content stuffing my face with kogi-free bibimbop and kimchi, until I actually took a gander at a package of kimchi in the market.

I’m relatively new to the veggie game, so I’m still getting used to double-checking everything I eat.  I mean, pickled cabbage doesn’t seem like something that would contain tiny chopped-up baby shrimp and anchovies, does it?  Or am I just an idiot?

After inhaling boatloads of kimchi, I discovered that it often contains fish products.  FIDDLESTICKS!!!  Luckily for me, there is an Asian market just down the street that carries approximately 700 varieties of kimchi, and a couple of them don’t contain seafood– like this kind, which I started buying:

Of course, lots of people might turn their nose up at this type of thing: it’s prepackaged and presumably not as fresh or authentic as the kimchi that comes in giant plastic bags at the market.  But if you’re vegetarian, it does the trick; and it is still totally delectable without all the dead creatures adding “flavor” or whatnot.

You can also make your own kimchi.  There are lots of recipes online.  But honestly, it seems like a pretty time-intensive thing to tackle, when other people who know what they’re doing make it so much better.  So I’m sticking with my little jar.

One of my favorite ways to eat kimchi is in pancake form.  Kimchi pancakes are not that expensive to buy, but like any pancake, they’re definitely cheaper to make yourself.

I modified this recipe from Maangchi, and I served it with a side of sauteed seaweed stems.

Vegan Kimchi Pancakes

makes 4 big pancakes


– 2 cups kimchi, chopped

– 1/2 cup water

– 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used grapeseed) (plus more for pan-frying)

–  1/3 cup white onion, chopped

– 1/2 tsp sugar

– 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour


Stir first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.  Then, stir in flour.  Heat about a tablespoon of oil into a skillet on medium low.  Pour enough batter in to make a good-sized pancake, and spread evenly.  Cook about a minute and a half, then flip and heat for another minute and a half.

When both sides are golden and slightly crisp (but not crunchy), remove from pan, and repeat with the next batch of batter.

I love pancakes!  I love kimchi!  I love not eating animals!  Long live vegan kimchi pancakes!!!

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Music Monday: Willow Smith Makes Me Feel Like a Big Lame Loser

When I saw Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” video the other day, I was reminded of my own childhood.  I was pretty much exactly like her.

Just kidding.  I don’t understand how young children get to be this hip.  I mean, I understand that Willow Smith is hardly the standard for normality.  But honestly, most kids today are way cooler than anyone from my middle school in the 90s.

I think they are too cool, in fact.  It doesn’t seem fair.  When I was teaching, I constantly felt like the least trendy person in a room full of 6th graders.  That’s just not right.  (In fact, I would probably compare myself to the old lady doing the splits at 3:23 in the video.)  When I was in 6th grade, I was buying sweatshort outfits at the Limited Too and listening to Blues Traveler.  Now children are sporting Major Lazer T-shirts and making homemade remixes of Sonic Youth and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

Look at these assholes.  Who knows what they are up to/what beats they will be dropping in the coming months?

I feel like this would have been a much more appropriate video for Willow Smith to release:

I realize that I sound like an old grump, a la, “These kids today with their Rock AND Roll!”  But I don’t care!  It’s not right that I’m 27 and feel intimidated by a 9-year-old with a neon mohawk!!

FYI, Parents: You can force your children to be dorks.  Seriously.  Think about the rest of us.

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Feline Friday: My favorite cat video ever…. the standing cat!

I’ve been pretty busy at work this week, so today, I’m just sharing this incredible video.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you are in for the treat of your life.  When I first saw this six months ago, I almost died of joy.  If I came home and saw the cats standing in the windowsill waiting for me, I would cease to wish for anything ever again.   They are not enthused about standing though– for example, when I try to get them to dance with me, they are not responsive.  Too bad because standing cats are the shiz.

So this is my favorite cat video of all time, which is saying a lot because 85% of  videos that I watch online are cat-related.

In other standing-animal news, this dancing dog is pretty great as well.

And in other animals-doing-human-things news, here is a nice video of a cat sitting slumped over like a sad old drunk.

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Wordy Wednesday: Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

I recently joined a book club, and I love love love it.  I’m used to just telling Goodreads my thoughts on literature, so it’s nice to have a real conversation with a human being about the book I just finished.  Plus, the club is run through a book store, not a group of friends, and everyone who shows up has actually read the book.  It’s not just an excuse to get together and have mimosas, which I think is the fate of 85% of book clubs, unfortunately.

This month, we read Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel.  I kind of hated it for the first 50 pages– mostly because it was following a do-nothing twenty-something living in Williamsburg, who was having a crisis over the fact that he couldn’t finish his thesis on dead languages and felt no fulfillment working part-time in a pretentious art gallery.  Then, he meets this girl, and she’s so “different from everyone else”–she’s a dishwasher, but she knows 4.5 languages, reads voraciously, and loves photography.

“He began to feed her pomegranate beads, two or three at a time, and she stopped weeping long before her lips were stained red”: when I read that line on page 36, I almost projectile vomited.  I am not a fan of books about relationships, so I was feeling unenthused about finishing the story.

However, it got so much better.  The book is not about romance–it’s more of a mystery based around child abduction and family drama.  The story unfolds effortlessly, and I couldn’t put it down (I literally read the whole thing in one sitting, which is impressive, considering that I was very sleepy when I read it).  There are moments when the language is a little overworked (like in the example above), but in general, the writing style is quite pretty.  The characters are unbearable quirky at times, but at the same time, they engaged my interest.  The ending was a little rushed, but overall, I liked the book.  I think Emily St. John Mandel has creative ideas, and I am interested to see what she does in the future.

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Tasty Tuesday: Brussels Sprouts, YUMBO!

You might be wondering, “Kirby, why are you making Brussels sprouts?  I thought Tuesday was supposed to be tasty.”

I made Brussels sprouts for dinner tonight for two reasons:

1. This past weekend, my diet consisted of:

  • Potato pancakes
  • Hefeweizen
  • Pizza
  • A quesadilla
  • Mai Tais
  • Hash browns
  • Another quesadilla
  • A boat of curly fries (it was literally a giant mass of curly fries in the shape of an oil tanker).
  • Diet Pepsi

2. Brussels sprouts are actually very delicious!*  They have a bad reputation because of whiny kids’ slanderous complaints over the years; but Brussels sprouts are quite tasty, along with being super nutritious.

Roasting is definitely the best way to wrangle Brussels sprouts.  This concoction is nothing fancy; but it’s a yummy way to heal your body after a weekend of primarily beige foods.

Brussels Sprout, Chickpea, and Cranberry Bake


– about 2 cups Brussels sprouts, stems removed and quartered

– about 1 cup canned chickpeas

– 1/4 cup dried cranberries

– 2 garlic cloves, minced

– 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– a squeeze of lemon juice

– sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

– 2 Tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs

– 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

– pinch of salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, cranberries, garlic, oil, and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and transfer to a baking dish.

In a smaller bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, cheese, and seasoning, and sprinkle over the mixture in the dish.

Roast at 400 for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, then chow down.

*I would like to clarify something: while Brussels sprouts are good, they are in no way better than pizza or quesadillas.

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