Monday, July 25, 2011

My Blog has Moved!

Loyal readers, my blog has moved. Blogger has made life difficult with a terrible editing and photo interface. I was able to export all of my blogs to date to the new blog, so not all is lost. I am in a better place now, please come join me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

2011 Doo Dah Parade

Today was the 28th Annual Doo Dah Parade, right through my neighborhood. As best described by the Short North Gazette:

"The first Doo Dah Parade was July 4th (rain date July 3rd) in the year of our Emperor 1984. It was slated to start at one o'clock from Goodale Park - then to meander through the neighborhood, through the drive-thru at White Castle, down High Street and back to the park. The UnOrganizers of the Parade were nervous; it was 12:30 and only a handful of participants had arrived. All that money spent on beer and security and two color posters - all for naught. But wait! Over the crest of the hill, a flash of light reflects off a tiara. A kazoo rings through the still summer air. Huzzah, they have come! Quick, before they change their minds, the parade takes off! Oh, but look at the time! It is only 12:40! Since the parade proves to be only twenty minutes long, those who arrive on time to witness this wondrous event missed it. A fitting start for a homage to the absurd and the silly and puncturer of the pompous and punctual.

Thus, in 1984, a year that also saw the beginnings of the Gallery Hop, the Doo Dah Parade was born. We did not originate the name or the concept, but we did make it our own. And kept it our own. We (actually Andrew Klein, attorney at law and tax preparer 614-299-6139) had the incredible foresight to register the Doo Dah name. So when Upper Arlington, a humorless realm of green front lawns, decided to usurp our fairly stolen concept and name - we sued 'em. Then the Emperor commanded and we obeyed and invaded and conquered 'em just in time for the 6 o'clock news - much to their chagrin and befuddlement.

The Parade has its roots in the deep need of every neighborhood to parade itself. It helps if you own a fire engine, because then you are halfway there already. Do it on the Fourth of July, throw in a few cute kids, their dogs and bikes, make everything red, white and blue and you have got it. Good, but could be better &endash; what about all those people who inhabit the deep dark drinking dens; wouldn't it be a hoot if they were coaxed out into the daylight at high noon, blinking, their pallid skin blindingly white, turning quickly to deepest red (which of course makes them blue). And all those people with an opinion about everything, and all those people who deep down just wantto be noticed, and all those people who like to watch all of the above. And its all free as in freedom, as in come on down and feel free to join in, join up. Past years have treated us to the Beer Belly Brigade, Marching Fidels and Flamingos, men in tights, transvestites, kazoos, a tuba, lawn mowers, golf carts, political satire, bad taste, red, white and blue dogs, weird bicycles, Gandhi on roller skates, the Pope and a potbellied pig, in case you are looking to steal some inspiration."

The National Association for the Advancement of Colorful Old Hippies

Transportation Security Administration - lots of groping

The Doo Dah Marching Band
The Marching Fidels
The Tea Party - Mad as hatters!

That Car club

The Columbus Italian American Club - going for try number two this year at the worlds largest meatball.
Minature horse
People of Walmart - see
Rocky Horror Fishnet Mafia

Woofie for Governor
Tressel - local humor, OSU football coach Tressel shown here as blind to the blatant ethical lapses of his players
Random Wacky People

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Strawberry Statement by James Kunen

I have been reading a book written in 1968 by a nineteen year old student at Columbia University. He was involved with the takeover of administration buildings to protest University involvement in military research among other things. It is an interesting read, more than anything because it is the product of a funny, smart kid. Some choice quotes:

“In the summer following high school I made the ‘let’s-see-how-tough-you-are-kid’ scene at a place called Outward Bound in Oregon.

Tuesday, August 16, 1966: Up at 5:30am to climb mountain on a breakfast of tea and honey. No exultation at reaching peak; if you decide to turn around ten yards short of the top I’d consider it a twenty-yard shortcut and fine with me.”


“No, I have no statement to make at this time, except I’m still on the waiting list in a lot of ways.”


“My friends and I became preoccupied with the common nostalgic assertion that ‘these are the best years of your lives’. We could accept the fact that the college years are exhausting, confusing, boring, troubles, frustrating and meaningless – that we could take in stride; we’d seen hard times before. But that everything subsequent would be worse was a concept difficult to grasp and, once grasped, impossible to accept.”


“I went home to my apartment and my roaches. The roaches are a bit of a problem. We each have our areas. I have my corner, and they have the rest of the apartment. Except they always come into my corner.”


“A university is not a democratic institution,’ Professor Deane began, ‘When decisions begin to be made democratically around here, I will not be here any longer.

Commenting on the importance of student opinion to the administration, Professor Deane declared, ‘Whether students vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on an issue is like telling me they like strawberries.’

I like strawberries”

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cooking it up Tajine Style

My Mother recently surprised me with an early Birthday present - a fire engine red Tajine by Emile Henry. This is a great gift and was quite a surprise. Last year I had dinner in a Morrocan restaurant after touring the cathedral in Chartres, France. The restaurant served these large savory dishes cooked in a Tajine. The food arrived at your table in large, deep ceramic platters that were scalding hot. It was delicious and fun.
A Tajine is a heavy glazed ceramic cooking vessel that originates in Morraco. It consists of two pieces. The bottom is a round, deep dish that resembles an oversize apple pie dish. The top is shaped like a tall cone that perfectly fits over the bottom dish. It can be placed in the oven, but usually is meant for the stove top or traditionally over a fire. The tajine is meant for slow cooking. A little liquid is added to each recipe which when heated turns to steam that circulates around the food in the ample room created by the cone. It is a combination of steaming and sauteing. Cooking time varies but is generally several hours. The long cooking time allows the food to be fully infused with the herbs and spices used in this type of cooking.
Last weekend I tried out a Berber Tajine Vegetable Dish. It consisted of layers of onion, potatoes, turnips, zucchini, tomoto, and carrots with lots of spices. After two hours of cooking, the vegetables were soft and very flavorful. The ginger, pepper, cumin, rosemary, and thyme (from Elly's garden!) really came through. Elly gave two thumbs up. Fresh baked bread serves as a good side.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Asakura, Tokyo, Japan

I had the opportunity to spend Sunday afternoon strolling around a very interesting neighborhood of Tokyo called Asakura. Asakura is the best approximation of what Tokyo looked like hundreds of years ago, with narrow streets and tiny stores surrounding beautiful temples. Here is a tour of my experience in Asakura.

After exiting the metro, I soon found myself at the Kaminarimon Gate. Hanging in the gate is a 220 pound lantern. Gods of wind and thunder reside at the gate and are an impressive sight.

Right next to the Kaminarimon Gate is the Tokiwado Kaminari Okoshi, which is a 250 year old maker of rice sweets. They were tasty, though to me were odd.

After passing through the gate, you reach a long straight street full of tiny shops. They sell everything from touristy souveniers to very nice artwork. Radiating off in every direction were more tiny streets with more shops and restaurants. I could have spent days wandering, it was really fun.

At the end of the street you pass a traditional Japanese garden designed in the 17th century full of peaceful statues. Then you reach a large incense burner surrounded by people "washing" themselves. It is supposed to be healthful to cleanse yourself with the incense. I waved some smoke over my head for good measure and good health.

Overlooking the garden and incense burner is the Sensoji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo. Built in the 7th Century, the Temple is home to a golden statue of Buddhist goddess Kannon, which was apparently pulled from the ocean by fisherman.

In front of the temple are several covered areas where you can determine your fortune. For 100 Yen ($2), you shake a metal canister until a stick falls out. On the stick is a number. You match that number to a drawer in a long cabinet full of hundreds of drawers. Inside each drawer is a fortune. The first time I tried, I got a terrible fortune, appropriately named "The Worst Fotrune". After the experience I had the past three days (earthquake, sitting forever in a plane, sleeping on the airport floor, taking three whole days to get to my hotel), I did feel like I had the worst fortune. I didn't like the fortune though as an indicator of my future though, so I decided to try again (I was informed in Chinatown in San Fran that this is perfectly acceptable). I pulled what is labeled the Regular Fortune. It was better. Inside the temple, I realized that the official fortunes are given out there, so I decided to try one more time, just to see what my "real" fortune really is. Again, in spite of the hundreds of fortunes I pulled the "Regular Fortune" so that must be it.

My fortune is as follows: "When spring comes, withered tree blooms so charming. The sweet smell fills in the wood field and the sky. Your fortune will go developing your chance. The bright moon comes to shine among the fading clouds. Meeting a person of high social status, his help will bring you a happy life.

*Your request will be granted. *The patient get well soon. *The lost article will be found. *The person you wait for will come. *Building a new house and removal are both well. *Marriage and employment are both well. *To start a trip is well."

Past the temple are a variety of shrines, gates, and pagodas. They look like the traditional Japan that I really hoped to see. It was fun to wander through the shrines and ponder how old they are. There were many tourists admiring the buildings. I almost forgot that this country had just experienced a major crisis and still was facing a long road to recovery.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Eating my way through Asia

While my trip to Japan and China was short, I did have some great food. I try to eat what the locals eat when I can, and on this trip I had some really interesting, unique food experiences. Below I feature some of my favorite food.

After many delays and an uncomfortable traveling experience, I was so happy to find a little stand in the Hokkaido airport that sold containers of sushi. It was an unusual breakfast for me, but to the Japanese much more usual. The fish was very fresh though and with the rice actually made an excellent breakfast the was gentle on the stomach. Cost: $11.30.
Living in the airport for a day, waiting and hoping I would eventually leave for Japan, I had my first noodle bowl in a small café in the Hokkaido airport. A clear broth, some noodles, and fried tofu slabs on top. There was also a pink marshmallow which I still am confused about. The soup was sweet, hearty and satisfying. I really enjoyed it. Cost: Free, courtesy of Delta airlines.
The next day, I did some sightseeing in Tokyo. I was not very hungry that morning, so I avoided the big American style buffet in the hotel. Instead, I got a cream puff in the subway. It was warm from the oven with a seriously rich cream filling. I stood in the subway, making a mess of myself from all the powdered sugar and started to really enjoy this trip. Cost: $0.80.

I went to an old section of Tokyo called Asakura. After a few hours of walking around, I was very hungry but a bit unsure where to eat. I strayed a bit from the tourist areas and found a narrow street lined with tiny restaurants. None of them had any signs in English, so eventually I picked one at random and sat down. This place was tiny. They had about ten seats total plus a small bar in front of the kitchen. The kitchen was the smallest restaurant kitchen I have every seen. Everything needed to be coordinated so the three people in the kitchen did not knock each other over. The cook was stationed by a small stove tucked in the corner. A woman washed dishes at a small sink right next to the stove. A steep stairway led upstairs to what likely was storage. A few shelves held bottles of saki. They seemed a bit surprised that a westerner had come to dine with them, but they quickly had a menu in my hands. The menu had a bit of English, combined with limited English spoken by the waitress. I told her to make me something good. A little while later they delivered chicken on skewers with a sweet teriyaki sauce, accompanied by a cold Asaki beer. Cost: $6.00.

The next day, in downtown Tokyo I want to a local noodle shop with my work colleagues for lunch. Noodle shops are great and I wish we had something like it in the US. I ordered a Golden mushroom soup. You sup the broth with a large broad ceramic spoon and eat the noodles with chopsticks. You can see by the picture that it was good. Cost: about $10.

That night I flew to Shanghai, China. I stayed in a small Chinese hotel and I think I was probably the only Westerner there. The front desk staff spoke no English, but the rooms were only $32 a night. In the morning there was a breakfast buffet set up that consisted entirely of Chinese foods. No bacon, eggs, and hash browns. There was no coffee, in fact there were no drinks at all. There were steam dumplings, vegetables, noodles, rice noodles and fruit slices. It was a simple but good breakfast, of course eaten with chopsticks. Cost: Free, included in the price of the hotel.
The next day I had the chance to spend a couple hours in Shanghai, exploring the Yu Garden area. While exploring alleyways a bit outside the tourist area, I stumbled upon a street lined with outdoor food vendors. There were so many choices, but I was drawn to a man making fresh bread turnovers stuffed with turnip greens, onions, and spices. They were cooked over a propane flame in a big covered flat pan. Fresh and steaming, I hope to learn to make these myself. Cost $0.40.

A little while later I stopped by the JR Dumpling shop because I was still a bit hungry. The shop was tucked under a staircase in a little alcove. It was piled high with stacked steaming baskets over boiling water. There were many different varieties, but all the signs were in Japanese. So, I selected at random. Inside was a spiced meat that was tasty. No better than the frozen dumplings I buy in Columbus, but good for the price. Cost $0.80.

Walking from work to the hotel the next day I stopped by a woman cooking potstickers at the side of the road. These dumplings were being made fresh, boiled then fried. A line of people were waiting to be served, which is always a good sign. They came with a sweet soy sauce which made it possible to eat all eight. Cost $0.75

That night was my last night in China and I decided to go to a Chinese restaurant (hah!). I went to a very busy place that had about thirty tables, all full. The menu was all in Mandarin, but there were pictures. I picked out Ma La Tofu and a hot and sour soup. They arrived at my table covered in red spicy peppers. It was so hot I could not eat it. My stomach turned to fire and I started worrying about vomiting. I ate a bit, washed it down with a cold beer and headed for the door. I was worried that I would offend them by eating so little, but they did not care. They were happy that I got up so they could seat the next customer. Cost: $4.35.