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November 2008 Archives

November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

spaghetti carbonara

In honor of our national celebration of face-stuffing, we bring you an excerpt from Calvin Trillin's groundbreaking 1981 essay about his overthrow of the traditional Thanksgiving menu, "Spaghetti Carbonara Day".

I have been campaigning to have the national Thanksgiving dish changed from turkey to spaghetti carbonara.

It does not take much historical research to uncover the fact that nobody knows if the Pilgrims really ate turkey at the first Thanksgiving dinner. The only thing we know for sure about what the Pilgrims ate is that it couldn't have tasted very good. Even today, well brought-up English girls are taught by their mothers to boil all veggies for at least a month and a half, just in case one of the dinner guests turns up without his teeth. (It is certainly unfair to say that the English lack both a cuisine and a sense of humor: their cooking is a joke in itself.)

It would also not require much digging to discover that Christopher Columbus, the man who may have brought linguine with clam sauce to this continent, was from Genoa, and obviously would have sooner acknowledged that the world was shaped like an isosceles triangle than to have eaten the sort of things that the English Puritans ate. Righting an ancient wrong against Columbus, a great man who certainly did not come all this way only to have a city in Ohio named after him, would be a serious historical contribution. Also, I happen to love spaghetti carbonara.

[At the first Thanksgiving,] The Indians, having had some experience with Pilgrim cuisine during the year, took the precaution of taking along one dish of their own. They brought a dish that their ancestors had learned from none other than Christopher Columbus, who was known to the Indians as "the big Italian fellow." The dish was spaghetti carbonara--made with pancetta bacon and fontina and the best imported prosciutto. The Pilgrims hated it. They said it was "heretically tasty" and "the work of the devil" and "the sort of thing foreigners eat."

The entire essay is available in The Tummy Trilogy.

Spaghetti carbonara doesn't exactly solve the problem that vegetarians face at Thanksgiving, but it's a step in the right direction. Even if your Thanksgiving hosts fail to offer you a tasty plate of spaghetti carbonara, you can feel lucky that you're not a NASA astronaut at the international space station. Here's their dinner:

NASA Thanksgiving dinner

November 25, 2008

New patron saint of Bad Love

Gina Salamino

Move over, Pamela Smart! Another ex-teacher has set the new standard for hitting the Bad Love jackpot: Gina Salamino, 37, a former 2nd grade teacher from Queens.

Salamino met her inappropriate love interest, Josh Walter, when he was 12 years old. When he hit 17, they started dating. Luckily for Salamino, in the intervening years Walter became a super-hot successful male model. Now he's 19, doing great as a Hugo Boss runway model, and lives with Salamino and their child. The dream can be yours!

Not only did Salamino get her teenage boy to engage in an actual, quasi-legitimate relationship with her (something most Bad Lovers never come close to achieving), Josh Walters is on the record declaring his affection for her, while sounding embarrassingly like a pretend rapper. From the Daily News story:

"I'm tapping that ass and there's nothing you can do about it," the teen responded, says the report from Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon.

In a written statement to investigators, Walter said he considered Salamino to be "my shorty."

The lesson for would-be seductresses of impressionable children everywhere is this: get them while they're young enough that they'll be bewildered and enchanted by your amorous attention. You don't have to make your move until they've reached puberty, but plant that seed when they're definitely too young to know what they're doing.

While the world is wondering what an attractive successful guy like Walter is doing with an older, less attractive elementary school teacher who got fired as a result of their relationship (she's suing to get her job back,) the answer comes straight from Walter himself. In a video of models talking about their personal lives, he talks about his new career (in a wonderfully thick accent): "It hasn't really changed me that much. I'm still the same person that I was. I'm just in magazines and books and shit."

In other words: he's not tempted by all the other women he's met traveling around the world and doing fashion shows. He's still the same old guy from Queens, living with a older, sort of dumpy 2nd grade teacher/Bad Love mastermind.

Eat your heart out, Debra LaFavre!

November 21, 2008

New shows on AMC

Alex Winter, black cop white cop

AMC has had a good run with Mad Men and Breaking Bad (season 2 starts early next year!) and they're looking at some new original shows to keep the momentum going.

One of the new shows is by old favorite Alex Winter of Idiot Box/Bill & Ted/Freaked fame: Sugar Hill will be about a black cop and a white cop working Harlem in the late 60's. Expect excellent costumes and music, possible Tracy Morgan cameo.

Red Mars will be a sci-fi series about people colonizing Mars, but it's a character-driven drama. The writer/producer is the guy who wrote Armageddon and The Saint, but it's still probably worth checking out.

Rectify is a drama about a man returning home from prison after DNA evidence exonerates him. It's by the producer of Breaking Bad, and stars the guy from The Shield who isn't Michael Chiklis.

And if that isn't enough, they're also making a mini-series remake of The Prisoner, an awesome and influential 60's British TV show, starring Ian McKellan and Jim Caviezel. Hopefully it will capture the spy/sci-fi/ mystery/psychological freakout elements of the original. I haven't heard anything about the rumored Christopher Nolan movie version for two years or so, maybe that one's not happening.

TV is more exciting than movies these days, isn't it?

November 19, 2008

Obama baby names, other than Obama

Barack Obama and crowdsurfing baby

[photo of the guy who crowdsurfed his baby over to Obama at a Montana rally]

I've spent some time in upper Manhattan first grade classrooms lately, and noticed more than one little kid with a "NEVAEH" nametag on their bookbag or cubbyhole. The Times reported on the heaven-backwards trend in baby names in 2006, when it was the 70th most popular name for girls, and the Social Security Administration says it's up to 31 as of last year. As a girl's name, that is. Makes me feel bad for the one little boy Nevaeh I met yesterday who ended up on the losing gender of that particular trend.

Right after the election, Chief Baby Name Correspondent Jennifer 8. Lee told us about parents naming their babies after Obama, though DC's little Obama Alhaji Kabineh Kabba seems to be leading the trend--he's already 6 months old.

Obama-loving expectant parents out there don't have to follow the crowd. And there might be a bunch of them soon--Newsweek reports lots of people got busy on election-night (HuffPost describes the phenomenon as "Yes We Did It".)

Those looking to commemorate that special night with a special baby name might follow the lead of P.O.D. singer Sonny Sandoval with his inexplicable backwards baby name and go for Amabo. It means "I will love" in Latin, which sounds sort of hokey and weirdly Biblical, and captures some of the messianic expectations people have for the real Obama these days.

Or how about Kcarab? The K is silent. Unfortunately that sounds like those carob-covered raisins and peanuts my mom used to buy as some cruddy supposedly healthy alternative to chocolate. Gross.

November 17, 2008

Presidents and email

Bush on a video conference

"Since I do not want my private conversations looked at by those out to embarrass, the only course of action is not to correspond in cyberspace. This saddens me. I have enjoyed conversing with each of you."

That's the email that Bush sent out to friends and family just before his inauguration in 2001, announcing his self-imposed moratorium on sending emails during his presidency.

There are a few great little details about that email, which is like a miniature time capsule of email communications in the early part of our decade. "Cyberspace"? William Gibson invented the word in 1982, and at the time of Bush's reference it was probably still a relevant word. The Wikipedia entry gently points out that in recent years it has "lost some of its novelty appeal."

Also, his private email address: G94B@aol.com. You've got the date-specific address that looked behind the times about 30 seconds after he created it (94 is probably a reference to the year he became governor of Texas.) And, of course, AOL.

The Times predicts that Obama will send out some version of the same message before long, since all presidential correspondence is part of the public record. The emails that he will probably stop sending for the next 4 years are reportedly "crisp, properly spelled and free of symbols or emoticons" though he sometimes sends out short exclamations too ("Sox!"). (Isn't that what texting is for?)

AP says, "Often a president uses the equipment of personal assistants," suggesting that Obama might keep emailing using his aides' BlackBerrys. Sneaky. He'll probably have a few favorite staffers that let him use their BlackBerry and bum the occasional cigarette too.

November 13, 2008

Gay big love rally

Rally outside Mormon church, NYC

Gay marriage supporters held a rally last night outside the Mormon temple in Midtown to protest the same-sex marriage ban in California. It might not totally be the Mormon church's fault that the proposition passed, but the church did rally its members to vote in support of the ban.

But there were some awesome signs! This photo captures two of the best ones, "I Heart My Gay Mormon Husband" (a retake of the memorable and endlessly useful line from Heathers, "I love my dead gay son!" [video]), and the one next to it, "Share The Big Love".

That second one is really clever for a few different reasons:

  • It frames marriage as an expression of love, not just a state-regulated contract
  • It promotes the 3rd season of HBO's Big Love, which will start in January
  • It points out the hypocrisy of Mormons making gay marriage illegal while those same people at one time engaged in polygamy, a form of marriage which is also illegal, and maybe stopped doing it largely due to legal pressure.

Maybe Mormons are jealous of the gains others have made in legalizing their non-traditional form of marriage?

November 12, 2008

Jerry Garcia, before the egg creams and heroin

Young Jerry Garcia, age 25

This is what Jerry Garcia looked like in 1967 at age 25. He had just recently started the Grateful Dead (a name the whole band hated) and he was a big fan of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and bluegrass.

It's this period of Garcia's life that a new biopic will focus on. Spout is suggesting some actors to play him, but their ideas all sound like the later-era Jerry Garcia, the heroin addict and egg cream fiend. They're talking about Philip Seymour Hoffman, Vincent D'Onofrio, or Paul Giamatti. I love all those actors, but we need someone young, hairy, and maybe a little doughy-faced to play Jerry when he looked like this:

Jerry Garcia, young

So here are a few ideas: Jeremy Sisto. He's got the hair, he'd have no trouble growing a big beard, and look at that smile:

Jeremy Sisto

Here's another one: Danny Masterson, from That 70s Show. Put a few pounds on him and he's just about perfect. Plus, everyone already associates him with being a stoner.

Danny Masterson

Then there's the obvious choice: Seth Rogen. The man is the real hirsute frizzed-out deal, and is clearly no stranger to Cheetos. But his range is pretty limited: I'm guessing the first half-hour or so of the movie might involve some scenes where Jerry Garcia is not high, and it's hard to imagine Seth Rogen pulling that off.

Please add other ideas in the comments.

November 10, 2008

Who'dat?™: Crazy celebrity brothers

Ralph Turturro

This is a tough one, so I'll just tell you who it is. If you subtract the beard, hair, and about 65 pounds from this guy, but kept the expressive eyebrows and sort of wild expression, you might be able to guess that this is John Turturro's brother.

According to the Post, Ralph Turturro has been causing all kinds of problems for his Hell's Kitchen neighbors on West 46th--they've called the cops on him 5 times since August:

John Turturro's troubled older brother has them living in fear -- threatening to kill them and his caretakers, screaming at all hours of the night, and leering at female residents.

"He's explosive," said Deborah Miller. She said she had to call the cops Aug. 30 because Ralph, who was locked out of his own place, was trying to get into her apartment around 1 a.m. "Get me a key, bitch!" he screamed.

The more famous Turturro's Wikipedia entry says that his older brother Ralph is a middle school art teacher, but the Post says he's an unemployed artist who has "caretakers" with him all the time, which I'm guessing means he lost that teaching job. Neighbors say they hear him screaming and throwing furniture around the apartment.

While the older Turturro [UPDATE: it turns out the artist is John Turturro's cousin, not his brother, and is not mentally ill] may have mental problems, his art isn't bad. I found a website that appears to be his featuring a lot of his abstract art. I'm no expert on this, but some of it looks really good (I like this one from 2002.) The "recent works" are from 2003 and earlier, so maybe his creativity has suffered lately. His artist's statement is an interesting take on abstraction, subjectivity, and discipline, so it seems like he had his shit together at one point.

In an interview from 2 years ago, Ralph Turturro says he comes from a family of artists, though "the rest of my family that aren't actors never talk to each other because of one emotional thing or another." Maybe that means he's still in touch with John and Aida who can help get him away from his neighbors.

UPDATE: It turns out the mentally ill Ralph Turturro, John's brother, is not the same person as Ralph Turturro the artist. The professional artist is John's cousin, and is not mentally ill. See the comments for more anecdotes from one of the neighbors dealing with the unwell Ralph's outbursts.

November 7, 2008


I'm not sure what it is about the photo for this edition of Who'dat?™--the celebrity in question isn't aging beyond all recognition or going through a radical transformation for a movie role or anything. The reality of what this person looks like doesn't quite coincide with my mental image of her.

To play, try to guess who this is, then click on the picture to see if you are right.


November 5, 2008

Tracy called it

CNN may have called the election at 11:00 PM last night, but Tracy said it back on March 15: Black is the new President, bitch!

November 4, 2008

It's election day! Here's your paper bag to hyperventilate into

McCain and Obama

The big day is finally here! By now you've probably already voted, or are restructuring the rest of your day so that you can vote without missing the election parties you're going to tonight.

It's an intense day for everyone. So far it seems like people (and by "people" I mean "Obama supporters"-- this is New York) are alternating between giddy excitement (when looking at polls), cynicism (when reading reports of voting irregularities and remembering the last two elections), and superstitious fears about jinxing it by being overly optimistic (when planning what time you'll pop the champagne or take the celebratory Obama Jell-O bust out of the fridge.)

The earliest a presidential election got called was 9:00 eastern time in 1980, and some people think it will all be over pretty early tonight. It will be interesting to watch the news channels struggle to hold back individual state projections until they're sure about them (and keep viewers around as long as possible) while eagerly wanting to make the overall call. "There's no way to get around it," CBS News senior VP Paul Friedman says. "If one man gets 270 electoral votes before the West Coast polls are closed, we're not going to pretend (he doesn't)." CBS said they might call it as early as 8:00, but I don't think that's happening.

An early call would mean that all the people watching the results in bars will switch over from nervous sipping of drinks to rounds of victory shots and special blue election-themed "O-bomb-a" Jager/Sake/Irish Car bombs. Here are a few guides to special bar nights from New York magazine, Time Out, Drinking Liberally, and those raging party animals at Channel Thirteen.

It looks like the folks over at Slate aren't feeling very superstitious: they offer some advice to McCain on his concession speech, and remind us of Bob Dole in 1996 shushing his crowd with "You're not going to get that tax cut if you don't be quiet." McCain should definitely go for funny--especially if this is the last big public forum he's going to get.

November 3, 2008

Halloween Parade pics

Blue stick figure guy, Halloween parade

[photo by Camarolf]

Halloween fell on a Friday this year, and it was a warm night, so the Village Halloween Parade was especially popular. Some sponsored floats pulled out at the last minute, which just made more room for the tens of thousands of marchers, and a reported 2 million spectators lining 6th Avenue.

Among all the demonic Sarah Palins, Jokers, and Joe the Plumbers, there were many inspired costumes. A few photographic highlights:

And one of my favorites: white pointy-headed guys covered in inflated rubber gloves. There is probably an underlying concept here that I'm not understanding, but I still love it.

rubber gloves guys, Halloween Parade

[photo by Efreet69]

Many more photos are up on Flickr.

November 1, 2008

Presidential pardons: Not just for turkeys

I beg your pardon

While you should have had plenty of opportunities to guess the winner of the Presidential election, or forecast the state of the senate, November 5th marks the beginning of the Lame Duck Pardon Season. Between November 5th and January 19th we can expect to see President Bush get busy with the pardoning. Time helps us out with a list of the 10 most notorious presidential pardons in history, the list includes Marc Rich, Richard Nixon, George Steinbrenner, Jimmy Hoffa and Vietnam draft dodgers. A Times article from this summer fills us in on some of the folks requesting clemency from the President, including runner Marion Jones, and the so-called American Taliban John Walker Lindh. If Obama wins, Bush will probably feel free to pardon whoever he likes. Some possibilities:

Scooter Libby- remember, W only commuted his sentence, he could actually pardon him, which would allow him to get his law license back.
Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the Republican congressman who pled guilty to accepting massive bribes.
Newly convicted Ted Stevens, especially if he somehow gets re-elected.

Let us know in the comments who you think George Bush will pardon in his final days. Jack Abramoff? Former Illinois governor George Ryan? Martha Stewart? Jeff Skilling?

Don't forget, Presidents can also issue pre-emptive pardons for people who haven't been charged yet, so he may go ahead and pardon Dick Cheney and himself (self-pardoning power is still a grey area).

About November 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in November 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

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