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Cocktails with the Captain

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Art inspiring vice or vice inspiring art?

There’s nothing quite like loading up on some whiskey and then making big decisions. When trying to decide the content for this edition of Cocktails with the Captain, I took a couple pulls of my favorite whiskey out of the ole hip flask, sat down at the keyboard and let the words flow. After all, as the legend John Barrymore once said of his work, “There are lots of methods. Mine involves a lot of talent, a glass and some cracked ice.” Sure enough, a few moments later, fire went from the back of my throat, down to my belly and then shot out of my fingertips in a blaze of literary genius. You’re welcome.

John Barrymore and I are in good company: Earnest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hunter S. Thompson, John Cheever, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack Kerouac, William Faulkner, (My editor hates that I just put a comma here and I love to push his buttons so I use it every time. Suck it editor!) and James Joyce were all known to drink for and because of artistic inspiration. You can’t deny the genius in any of them… or me. Obviously, I find myself fascinated with the relationship between art and vice and art inspired by vice. So, in this week’s Cocktails with the Captain, rather than laying out some recipes, I ultimately decided to highlight a gallery of some amazing alcohol inspired artwork.

Glenfiddich Scotch Whiskey, one of the World’s most famous Scotch Whiskies since 1887, sponsors a “barrel art” competition each year that has produced some fantastic sculptures. In 2008, Glenfiddich Whisky approached Michael Johnson, of the London-based design consultancy group Johnson Banks, to interpret the length of time it takes for Glenfiddich single malt whisky to mature in barrels. Currently, Glenfiddich is bottled at ages of 12, 15, 18, 21 and 30 years old. Johnson focused on the ‘jobs’ that each part of the barrel have to do over the different lengths of time the company’s five different whiskies take to mature. I hope you find his results in these whiskey inspired galleries to be as amazing as I did. Enjoy.

http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/10/view/4606/glenfiddich-barrel-art-by-johnson-banks.html

And one more…

http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/johnson-banks-glenfiddich-barrel-art

SAVE THE DATE!

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Cocktail Fodder is back. But a little different. Photo by Hector Garcia.

Cocktail Fodder is back! Save the date! One week from today, on October 11th, your favorite conversation-starting, fun-fact generating, snarktastic blog will be back, producing new content.

Yes, the Fodder has been on hiatus for a little longer than expected. Yes, we’re officially down a founding member. Yes, we’ll have to slim down content for the time being before we find a bright young mind to join the cause. Yes, Captain Adam is still churning out the good ole alcohol related humor. No, we will not waver from our goal or stop rocking your world with brain-stimulating, morally challenging opinions and espresso machine fodder tidbits. No, you won’t get those 30 minutes back each day you spend on Cocktail Fodder. Sorry.

So mark you calendar. Put it in your Blackberry. Throw it in your iCal on your iPad or iPhone. Do what you need to do. Just remember, we’re back and better than ever. Get ready.

Food for Thought: Chayote and Hearts of Palm Salad

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Hearts of Palm: mysterious and delicious.

If you work at a trendy wine shop in the East Village, you are bound to brush shoulders with some of the movers and shakers of the city and beyond. Matt Dillon once graced the store and proceeded to lick cheese off my coworker’s knife while his girlfriend strolled around the store looking for something “with a lot of fruit and some kick to it.” One of the more interesting and fulfilling encounters I’ve had at the shop has been with Food Network chef Aaron Sanchez. Restaurant owner, author, consultant and co-star of Food Network’s popular, Chefs vs. City, Chef Sanchez is one of the leading contemporary Latin Chefs in NYC and a regular shopper at Alphabet City Wine Company. We began talking about food and I eventually asked him to give me some simple, yet refined, recipes to impress and make one’s heart happy. He got back to me last week with three recipes. All of them, fittingly, use ingredients indigenous to Latin America.

Chayote

The first one I will share is Chayote and Hearts of Palm Salad. You might be asking yourself (as I did), “what the heck is a chayote?” Chayote is a tropical trailing vine which produces fruits. Although, it is treated more like a vegetable than a fruit; think of it as the summer squash from Latin America. Also known as Mexican Squash, vegetable pears, and Christophine – among other names – chayote can be enjoyed both cooked and raw. When lightly cooked it retains a nice crispiness; while raw chayote is usually added to salads or salsas. For this particular recipe the chayote is lightly cooked and then added into a salad. Enjoy!

Chayote and Hearts of Palm Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 pound chayotes (also called mirlitons; 4 medium)
  • 2 (14 to 15 – ounce cans hearts of palm, not salad-cut), rinsed well and drained
  • 2 large celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Print a shopping list for this recipe

Preparation:

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt using side of a large heavy knife. Whisk together lime juice, oil, and garlic paste in a large bowl, then add onion, tossing to coat.

Halve chayotes lengthwise, then peel with a vegetable peeler and scoop out pits with a spoon. Cut chayotes crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices then halve slices lengthwise to make 1/3-inch-thick sticks (sticks will not be uniform). Cook chayotes in a 4 to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until crisp/tender. It should be about 6 minutes. Drain well in a colander, then, while still hot, toss with dressing. Cool to room temperature.

Cut hearts of palm diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then add to chayote mixture along with celery, parsley, cilantro and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Gently toss.

Enjoy!

A Guide to Heirloom Tomatoes

Look at their splendor! Photo by Vmenkov, 21 August 2006, Wikimedia Commons

As we all know, farmers markets are all the rage. Green, trendy and the best place to get fresh produce, they are popping up in towns all across the country. We thought, in honor of the farmers market trend and our food/beverage Wednesdays, we’d ask our local farm girl to give you all you need to rock out at the local stands and impress your hipster crush. So without further adieu, enjoy the Horticulture Queen’s first guest blog…

During my twelve years working at a New England farm, I pushed a lot of produce at Boston-area farmers markets. Customers periodically held up a beautiful piece of produce, squinted their eyes at it, and asked doubtfully, “Is it good?” “Um, yes, of course it is. We would not sell it to you if it was not good.” During my time as a farm girl, I quickly realized that fruits and vegetables, especially specialty varieties, aren’t easily understood by the general population. If you are one of the many who wouldn’t know what to do will calaloo*, fear not! Even though I work for the Man now, I stick to my roots. Your local farm girl is here to guide you.

Today, I’d like to discuss something near and dear to my heart: heirloom tomatoes. To the untrained eye, an heirloom tomato is ugly and unappealing. To someone who knows better, it is pure heaven. Your average tomato has been bred to be red, round and easy to grow. They are grown specifically to withstand the shipping process before sitting pretty on a grocery store shelf for an extended period of time. As a result of this breeding process, the flavor of a common tomato is severely sacrificed. Heirloom tomatoes, on the other hand, are antique tomato varieties whose seeds have been passed down for generations. There are countless varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and they come in every color imaginable. They grow in strange shapes, and tend to split and crack.  Most heirlooms are not hardy plants; about 20% to 30% of what we grow can’t withstand the trip from the field, to the tomato barn, to the truck, to the market. So what makes these tomatoes SO great? The TASTE! Believe me — it deserves the caps-lock.

My favorite heirloom variety is called a Purple Cherokee. It is a round, medium-sized tomato that is black/purple with a dark green shoulder. It has a deep, smoky flavor that perfectly compliments all types of cheese. Toss a few slices in a grilled cheese sandwich, and I swear, your life will be changed. I also enjoy Pineapple: a large yellow tomato with a red blush that has a sweet, non-acidic flavor. Feeling adventurous? Try chopping up a Green Zebra tomato in your next homemade salsa. When ripe, this tomato has a light yellow flesh with thick green stripes and a fun, zesty flavor. If you’re a little unsure about all these crazy tomatoes, start off with a Pink Brandywine. These tomatoes tend to be huge; so have a couple friends over and a big recipe ready to try it. Their taste is similar to a regular tomato but amplified by about 300%. One of the most popular varieties, Brandywines are beefsteaks, meaning that when you slice them up, there is hardly any seed inside. It’s all meat! If you’re looking for a good sauce tomato, I’d recommend Costoluto Genevese. These tomatoes taste as Italian as their names sound and they come in an absolutely beautiful shape.

Since heirlooms come in so many colors, the best way to tell if they are ripe is by how soft they are. An heirloom is softer than a regular tomato, so it should feel as if it is slightly gone by. If it’s still firm, just let it sit on your counter for a few days. Be sure to cut it with a sharp knife. One of my favorite things to do is pick out a tomato in every color and slice them all up into a salad with some mozzarella and basil. Drizzle on some balsamic vinaigrette (I prefer homemade, but as my boyfriend tells me, I’m a snob when it comes to these things. Whatever, he’s the one who buys his corn at the grocery store) and you are ready for the perfect taste-test! One last tip—NEVER put tomatoes in the refrigerator. It ruins their taste. As I always tell my customers, try at least one heirloom tomato, and you’ll come back next week and buy more tomatoes than you can possibly eat, all the while telling me how right I am. I am always right when it comes to produce.

*For those still wondering about calaloo, it is Jamaican spinach and it is one of the most delicious things on this earth. If you’re able to find it, sautee it with some garlic and onions (don’t eat it raw) and you’ll never go back to another leafy green again. If you live in the Boston/Cambridge area, check out the farmers markets in Central Square on Monday and Davis Square on Wednesday—if you come early, Kimball’s Fruit Farm (Shout out! Get your heirloom tomatoes here too!!) and Farmer Al should both have calaloo for the next month or so.

Cocktailfodder.com

July 22, 2010 Leave a comment

cocktailfodder.com!!!

We are now at cocktailfodder.com! That’s right, we made the jump.

That is all.

Cocktails with the Captain

July 21, 2010 1 comment

Saranac Adirondack Lager - Pick some up.

From time to time, a man has to stand up for what he believes in regardless of the consequences. Damn the Man. Fuck the draft. Screw you editor. We don’t need no stinking patches. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen… I’m going rogue. In this week’s edition of Cocktails with the Captain, I’d like to take some time to talk about my first love, beer (sorry smoking-hot girlfriend), and highlight two of my favorite microbreweries on the East Coast.

The third most consumed drink worldwide, next to tea and water, has been around for a very a long time. As the story goes, some ancient Sumerian brahs living in Mesopotamia said some prayers to Ninkasi, the Goddess of Beer (super-hot for sure), that not only thanked her for her amazing gift but also helped them remember the recipe. Way to go guys.

Just a few years later, I started my own experiments with beer at the ripe age of 21 (19)… (ok 17)… (…16). There were lagers and ales, pilsners and porters, blondes and redheads: I tried them all. As the craft brew revolution began and exploded into the new millenium, the rest of America tried them all too.

SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale. It's good stuff.

My personal philosophy when it comes to beer is that sometimes good things can be hard to find. My two favorite microbreweries are continuing to grow but have not yet gained full exposure. In total, beers sales in America were down by over five million barrels in the last year. Despite this, small brewies experienced  a 7.2% volume increase in sales.

The Saranac brewery, technically the F.X. Matt Brewing Company, nestled in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in Utica, NY, is the fourth oldest family owned brewery in the United States; it is ranked as the 7th largest craft brewing company in the US (or the 15th largest overall) based upon 2008 beer sales volume. You’ve probably seen their Pale Ale. (It almost won the Washington Post’s March Madness Beer Bracket.) But, my personal favorite (perhaps of all time), the Adirondack Lager – a German-style amber lager – was named named the Top Premium Lager by the Great American Beer Festival back in ’91. You should buy some.

The SweetWater Brewing Company was founded in 1997 and quickly made a name for itself in the American brewing scene. By 2002, it had been voted the Best Small Brewery of the Year and awarded Brewmaster of the Year by the Great American Beer Festival. Based in Atlanta, it is largely distributed throughout the Southeast. Their flagship beer – SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale, a West Coast style pale ale – is also my favorite. You should really buy some the second you cross over the Mason-Dixon Line. It’s real good y’all.

(My editor thought I had finally gone an entire post without saying y’all… sucker).

Wine for Thought: Our newest guest blogger joins Cocktail Fodder with a value Rosé you can’t miss!

July 21, 2010 1 comment

Spain's wine regions.

In today’s Wine for Thought segment, I would like to introduce Sarah as our first guest wine blogger. I’ve wanted to give Sarah a guest spot on the Fodder since her arrival at the East Village Wine Geek‘s shop a month ago. Sarah splits her time as a wine manager at the shop and as an intern at WineChap; a slick online resource that gives you reviews of restaurant’s wine lists throughout New York City. (Definitely worth a look!) A passionate student of wine with an already enviable palate, (“Sarah, I still don’t get the citrus fruits in this wine!”) Sarah will be helping out on Wednesday’s Wine for Thought segments. Here is her first post about a 10 year old Spanish Rosé that is worth a try for the daring and curious wine drinker. Enjoy!

Wine is not just for drinking. Obviously, wine is great for just drinking, but there comes a time in a drinker’s life when the urge to get something more than intoxication out of a bottle may arise. The desire to taste something new, better and different can overcome even the most apathetic boozer and encourage them to find a new experience.

Enter López de Heredia. One of the oldest bodegas in Rioja, López was founded by Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta in the late 1800s during the post-phylloxera exodus from France to Spain. While the bodega is decently large, with three vineyards covering 170 hecatres, the López family continues to make traditional wines with care and attention that are released only when deemed ready.

Viña Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva 2000

The López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva 2000 is love in a bottle. Bottled love is a pretty good experience, and this blend of Garnacho, Tempranillo and Viura is the best lover that you can get at this price point. She has been waiting for years to become exactly what you want and need; to fulfill desires you did not know that you had. Most rosé is made to buy young and drink yesterday, but this is primed to give you all the nutty caramel goodness you could possibly want.

The day-glo orange hue and distinctive oloroso-style nose come from the purposeful oxidation of the wine throughout the ageing process. When oxygen comes in contact with wine, it beats the poor drink into submission. However, in a controlled environment, oxygen can be used to add complex flavors and aromas. While hints of burnt sugar and sweet spice are evident on the nose, the palate is dry and tangy; she is surprisingly fresh for her age. Drink chilled but not cold, with food or without, but definitely in good company.

To be clear, this wine is a bit bizarre. This is especially true if it is your first time with an older one. That said, the López rosé – which is aged for four years in barrel before being tucked away in some dank, dark corner for another six in bottle – offers a chance to taste age at a ridiculously low price. While $26.99 may exceed your normal wine budget, remember that this weird, orange wine has been lying down in the cool dark for ten years waiting for you.

Until next time, keep on sipping and swirling the good juice.

*For those of you in the Tri-State area, September Wines in New York City currently carries the 2000 vintage. Be on the lookout at your local wine shop to see if they carry any of this producer’s wines.

Wine for Thought: An introduction to wine and cheese

July 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Wine and Cheese

In this week’s Cocktail Fodder “Wine for Thought,” I want to talk about pairing wine with cheese. Wine and cheese just makes sense together and have been enjoyed that way since the beginning of time. The Greeks were even known to grate cheese directly into their wine goblets! Blasphemy by today’s standards, but maybe they were onto something like they were with democracy. Anyway, if paired correctly, wine and cheese can enhance your overall food experience and allow you to better appreciate both. Discovering new tasting notes on a wine, by way of cheese, is quite the rewarding gastronomical experience.

A Caves Saint-Pierre Vacqueyras

I came into the shop yesterday and enjoyed an impromptu wine and cheese pairing with my co-worker Sarah. We chose a southern Côtes du Rhône from Vacqueyras that was 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah. After letting the wine aerate for some time, we took a sip and made our initial tasting notes: the nose was earthy and vegetal, while the palate exhibited a prominent yet balanced acidity with hints of ripe berries. Acidity is the chemical property (pH) in wine that makes your taste buds perk up and tickle. After the initial taste, I strolled over to Barnyard to pick up two cheeses to match up with the wine. Since the wine had a bright acidity, I decided that semi-soft cheeses were the order of the day. With pairing, you can either mirror or contrast the wine and cheese. In this instance, I chose to contrast. I went with a delicious French goat cheese called Bucherondin and a triple-crème-style cheese known as Pierre Robert. The Bucherondin was delicious with a crumbling claylike consistency and slight tangy flavor, while the Pierre Robert was creamier with an even more pronounced tanginess.

The Bucherondin succeeded in softening the wine’s acidity on the palate while allowing the fruit to come through. (Success!) The Pierre Robert was an interesting pairing with the Vacqueyras in that it seemed to prop up the acidity on the palate. I honestly think I came up short with the Pierre Robert pairing. Sarah and I were both craving soft cheeses — goat cheese in particular — so both cheeses allowed us to discover what worked and what didn’t. To add a wrinkle to the story, Sarah preferred the Pierre Robert over the Bucherondin with the wine. The moral of the story: to enjoy wine, there are no rules just guidelines.

Here is an informative website with general guidelines for pairing wine with cheese.

Sip on!

Goat Cheese & Mint Bruschetta: the best thing to happen to bread since it was sliced

July 14, 2010 Leave a comment

A delicious, easy summer bruschetta.

Hey there Cocktail Fodder readers! I went to my favorite East Village café, Paradiso, the other day for an iced coffee and ended up having bruschetta with goat cheese, caramelized onions and a side of olives. (I’m admittedly forgetting some of the other key ingredients but this should give you an idea of the goodness.) Once finished, I decided that I should post a recipe for both the bruschetta-lover and bruschetta uninitiated. Now, I’ve had bruschetta before in the past, but never really thought much of it until my recent encounter at Paradiso. I cannot think of a better light and flavorful dish to whip up this summer to impress your own taste buds as well as the others in your presence. Great as a summer appetizer, everyone should have a quick bruschetta recipe up their sleeve. (Kudos to Marisa and epicurious.com!) What’s that you say? You don’t have one? Well then, you’re in luck today!

How does crispy bruschetta with goat cheese, tomatoes and mint sound? Hopefully as good as it does to me.

**SIDE NOTE: Goat cheese is the perfect pairing with a rosé wine — I implore you to get a little goat cheese on your next grocery trip and stop by your local wine shop for a nice, dry rosé.**

Anyway, back to the recipe:

Ingredients:

12 1/2-inch-thick slices of Italian or French bread (Preferably, from about a 3-inch-diameter loaf.)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove, halved

6 plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Find a baking sheet and put the bread slices on it. Use a brush and spread olive oil on both sides of the bread slices. Bake the bread until they reach a golden hue; about 6 minutes on both sides. Remove the bread and rub the halved garlics on them. Take the plum tomatoes and fresh lemon juice and combine them in a medium-sized bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Up the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the goat cheese over the toast and place the tomatoes on top, dividing equally between slices. Bake the bruschetta for another 8 minutes. Once done, place on a serving platter and garnish with the fresh mint.

Et voilá!

Quick hit wine recommendations: French Rosé, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and any Chenin Blanc.

The Week in Fodder

July 9, 2010 2 comments

A comical new Cold War.

Here we are, back again, for our third installment of the Week in Fodder. (Well, technically only the second considering last week’s was never published.) We have a full slate of Fodderific nuggets for you today: the spy swap, more shenanigans from Silvio Berlusconi, same-sex marriage’s proponent in Massachusetts, LeBron’s ego and a man who swam 750 miles down the Yangtze to visit the World Expo. Enjoy!

World Views:

Spy Swap: Unless you live under a rock or in the Laurentian Abyss (thank you, Hunt for Red October), you have undoubtedly heard about the Russian spies caught last week and their unfolding ordeal with the Justice Department. Last night, the U.S. and Russian governments performed the spy swap that had been the subject of rumblings and grumblings for the past week. Landing in Vienna, the 10 Russians switched positions with the 4 Americans on the inbound plane from Moscow and headed back to the Russian Federation. That was that. I’m sure something more will come out of this whole absurd and bizarre spectacle. Until then, however, it seems that 14 people engaged in a service for their countries and are on their way home to debrief and continue their lives. Comical?

Oh Silvio!: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is up to it again. Citing personal privacy protection, Mr. Berlusconi and his Government are pushing a law that would severely restrict law enforcement use of wiretaps. In America, some would see this as a welcome change from privacy encroachments established by the Patriot Act. In Italy, wiretaps are seen in a very different light: they catch corrupt corporate and federal authorities. As recently as last month, wiretap utilization helped discover the extent of a public works contract scandal that ended up involving the Vatican. Considering Mr. Berlusconi  and some of his Cabinet are under scrutiny in ongoing corruption investigations, it seems fishy, at the VERY least , that he would be pushing these new restrictions with such force. But then again, we should not be surprised, it’s just Silvio up to his old tricks.

Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani: As of early Thursday Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, an Iranian and mother of two, was awaiting her “death by stoning” sentence to be carried out by the Iranian government. Reports late yesterday are saying that the sentence will be stayed and that Ms. Ashtiani will not die in such a barbaric manner. The fact that stoning is still a legal and practiced form of capital punishment is truly reprehensible, but this stay, if real, is a victory for human rights campaigners and activists; as it was brought about by a sustained internet campaign started by her lawyer. Just as importantly, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government is not one to kowtow to international pressure. Let’s all hope for the brave Ms. Ashtiani.

Torpedos and the UN: Today, the UN Security Council released a statement on the North Korean sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan. Expressing “deep concern,” the statement lacked any real teeth; avoiding the words torpedo or intent. North Korea even called it a “great diplomatic victory.” Once again, the glaring inability of the Security Council to affect any real pressure on problematic regimes is troubling. I guess we can look at the silver lining here: the statement at least called the sinking an attack.

Raul’s Cuba: Raul Castro assumed power in Cuba in 2006 after Fidel’s health deteriorated to a point where he could no longer run his Communist paradise. Hailed as a possible reformer, the Cuban diaspora saw his ascension to power as a path to loosened personal freedoms, travel restrictions and overall political oppression. However, in his first year or so in office, the world was disappointed with the lack of progress on any of these fronts. It seems though, Cuba might be turning a corner. Yesterday, the Cuban government agreed to release 52 political prisoners; bringing the total number of political prisoners in Cuba to the lowest level since 1959. For sure, a step in the right direction.

American Matters:

Downtown Oakland - familiar with riots.

Mayhem in Oakland: Yesterday, a California jury returned a verdict of involuntary manslaughter in the murder trial of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. Mr. Mehserle shot Mr. Oscar Grant, unarmed and facedown on a train platform, once in the back, killing him on January 1st, 2009. Mr. Mehserle maintains that he was reaching for his taser and inadvertently pulled out his gun. Finding enough merit in this argument, the jury did not convict on the greater charge of murder in the second degree. Residents of Oakland did not agree with that verdict. Taking to the streets, in a scene reminiscent of riots past, the people of Oakland made their opinion known. I am obviously not condoning rioting, but I understand it. It seems unfathomable – in a city that KNOWS, so intimately, of racial tension and violence – that this kind of bias can still exist. Keep an eye on this story.

Same-Sex Marriage: On Thursday, Judge Joseph L. Tauro, a federal district judge in Massachusetts, ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Judge Tauro cited the right to access all privileges granted to heterosexual couples and an infringement on state’s right as the backbone of the Act’s unconstitutionality. While it is too early to tell how this ruling will stand up against the plethora of appeals soon to follow, it will add legal kerosene to the fiery debate. Either way, it’s a win for same-sex advocates everywhere! Love those hippies in MA.

Richardson Joins the Fray: In response to the Arizona immigration law, and the fallout between Mexico and the US that has followed, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has offered to mediate the negotiations to keep the Border Governors Conference from folding under the controversy. Mr. Richardson, the former ambassador to the UN, is adept diplomat and should bring a level head to the discussions. Cross your fingers he can keep the conference above water.

Summer Fatigue: A week long heat wave has been plastering the Northeast since last Monday. Stressing power grids, engendering uncomfortable walks for all city dweller and heating bulldogs to the point of utter exhaustion, the heat has brought summer in with a sucker punch. New York City hit 100 degrees twice this week while Philly hit 102, Baltimore 103 and DC 102. So until the heat advisories and water bans are lifted, Northeastern residents will be struggling to do anything more than sit at their computer and read the Fodder all day.

James’ Joke: “King” James left one city in despair and inflated another with his announcement on primetime national television to “take his talents” to the Miami Heat and play with superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The “Decision” was quintessential, popcorn-eating, American sensationalism. That it was held at the Greenwich, CT Boys and Girls Club is patently hilarious—I had no idea there was even a Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich. At any rate, this watershed moment in American sports only serves to reinforce the unattractive reality that loyalty is cheap and sports are a business first and foremost. Cowardly decision? I think so. As a wise Mainer says: “I calls it like I sees it.”

The Yangtze - Don't you want to go for a swim?

Off the Beaten Path:

Yangtze Madness: How badly do you want to attend the Shanghai World Expo? Desperately? You’ll do anything? Well Bao Zhengbing did anything. Mr. Bao swam 750 miles down the Yangtze from central China to Shanghai. Now, 750 miles is a scarily daunting swim under any conditions but just look at that picture to your left. See that? The Yangtze is so polluted it actually turned red. We’ve all been swimming; in a pool, river, ocean, pond. If you swim for more than half an hour, you’re bound to get water in your mouth at some point. It’s an inevitability. Now, extrapolate that out over the time you would need to swim 750 miles. Nope, I don’t think the World Expo is worth it. On the other hand, good for Mr. Bao, that definitely takes some intestinal fortitude.

Cyrano de Bergerac: Just when you thought there were limits to what the internet could replace in human interaction, the burgeoning world of cyber dating has added a wrinkle: one can hire the services of an individual— known as a ghost writer– to essentially write their personal profile in an effort to increase the number of views to their dating page. Wow. There’s steep demand for this ghost writer outsourcing service and as is seen in this testimonial in the BBC article, some people are actually satisfied with the service. More importantly, how does something like this make us feel about the internet? What can you actually believe on the web? Or is this just like applying to a job or having a college counselor look over your resume to make you a more attractive candidate? I don’t know, but maybe all those people on eHarmony.com aren’t the good Christians they claim to be.

Airhead: This story is probably too colloquial and local, but it’s just too good to pass up. A 20 year old man walked in to a Boston-area Mercedes dealership and asked to take a car for a test drive. He then proceeded to try to steal the car with a FAKE grenade. I’m not even sure where to start. Why a fake grenade and not a water-gun assault rifle like the immortal Brendan Fraser? And who is he kidding, how was a real grenade supposed to be confined to hurting the Mercedes employee? Idiocy. Utterly ridiculous.

Winnebago Man: The Winnebago Man. We’ve all seen the YouTube video. (If you haven’t, it’s imbedded below!) Over twenty million views later, a documentary is coming to a theater near you about the man behind the outtakes and profanity. Jack Rebney, the Man himself, now lives a semi-hermetical life in California shirking the technology that has made him an international icon. A truly bizarre story on all fronts… but yeah, I’ll probably pay to see that movie.

Leviathan: Stolen from last week’s missing Fodder, you have to read all the links in this little synopsis. The Peruvian desert has given the world a brand new monstrous creature to inspire fascination: Leviathan. Formally named Leviathan melvillei (yes, in honor of Herman Melville), this beast dined on other whales for snacks and brought 14 inch long (!!!!!) teeth to the predatory table. To put that into perspective, the Great White’s teeth grow up to 3 inches long. I think the real question here is: who would win in a prehistoric ocean fight, Leviathan or Megalodon?

I bet most of our readers think they're the cat's whiskers.

Idiom of the Week:

Tasked with finding the idiom of the week, AWC came back with one that fit for any cat lover: the cat’s whiskers!

This expression comes in handy to describe someone who believes they are better than others in a particular area –beauty, competence, sports, skills, etc.

Example #1: “Ever since she got that promotion, she thinks she’s the cat’s whiskers!”

Example #2: “LeBron James thinks he’s the cat’s whiskers but he hasn’t even won a single championship!

Leave some of your own examples!

Song of the Week: Weekend Girl by the SOS Band

This week’s Song of the Week is going to go back into time to the 1980s when music was delightfully cheesy and slow jams with synthesizers were in full effect. (So, in fact, it’s not really transporting you anywhere because if you turn on your local hip-hop station, you’re sure to find about the same today!) Anyway, “Weekend Girl” by the SOS Band is a classic single from 1985. I would recommend just putting this in the background and fixing yourself one of Captain Adam’s cocktails.

That’s your Week in Fodder ladies and gentleman. Hope you found a conversation starter for the bar, the beach or the cookout this weekend. Until Monday, keep living the good life!