Monday, February 26, 2007

Vosges chocolates

This is the wildest, craziest chocolate in the world, and probably the most expensive, but it is delicious. The people who make them are fearless. They throw just about anything into their candies --- Banks Beer, rum, champagne, dried violets, powdered tea leaves, even dried-up kalamata olives. They have one chocolate that is so fiery spicy hot that it will make your tongue shrivel in your mouth and fall off (my tongue actually fell off, no kidding, after I ate it.). They have another chocolate that is made from the mashed-up roots of an unpronounceable, endangered shrub. I got a bunch of these candies for my wife for a late Valentine's day gift and she loves them. She's eating one a day. They come in a big purple box. My only concern is that the Vosges flavors will one day get so "daring'' and weird that they will become inedible. (i.e. sausage-flavored chocolates)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Werner Herzog at Columbia

I managed (somewhow) to get a seat for Werner Herzog's ultra-sneak preview of his new movie (it hasn't been screened anywhere until now and there isn't even a release date.) The packed crowd was told not to blog about it but I can at least say that someone should check and make sure the main actors (including Steve Zahn, who was great in this, and completely believable) are still alive and well. It looks like Herzog damned-near killed them making this movie!! You've never seen such skinny, scratched, tormented and dragged-about movie stars in your life. Anyhow, that's all I can really say, but Herzog was a fascinating presence, talking about the tribulations of movie making and his absolute confidence, which I envied. Asked if he ever doubted himself, he replied, "NO.'' I tried to get my class into this discussion because Herzog directed a documentary called 'Grizzly Man,' about a well-meaning preservationist with a Prince Valiant hairdo who gets eaten by one of the critters he's attempting to 'protect.' Herzog is obsessed with capturing authentic moments on film, which is why he once had the cast of an earlier movie drag an actual ship over a mountain, and, at one point, he reportedly hypnotized a film crew. In this movie, you see a lot of unsettling 'actual' stuff taking place but I don't want to spoil it so I'll just leave it at that.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Binging can be fun

Today I ate an entire gooey pizza that I baked myself, a huge bowl of Tuscan white bean soup, a chocolate croissant, a turkey burger with everything and an enormous bowl of cereal. And I don't feel the slightest twinge of remorse about it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

FDR's house --- kind of a dump.

I was out at Hyde Park the other day to see FDR's house --- and it is not in very good shape! The paint was cracked and peeling, and the place had that neglected-outbuilding-storage-sheddy vibe, and there were no visitors at all except for me and Amy. It's strange to think that they don't fix the place up a little bit. FDR, after all, was a good president. The whole New Deal thing was impressive, and he made it cool for presidents to use cigar holders. I think he deserves better. The FDR stables were creepy -- no horses in them, and there was no stables-ish smell at all in there; it was just musty, like an outdoor attic. Strange, how people revere FDR and yet his house is such a dump.

It makes me wonder if George W. Bush's house will ever be opened to the public 60 years from now. I would bet against it. They'll probably just knock his original house to the ground, leaving a weedy field, and maybe there will be a small pebble with an inscription, in Magic Marker, saying, "George W. Bush used to live here but no one cares.'' And then the pebble will get stolen. Also, we tried to go to the CIA (Culinary institute of America) but all the damned restaurants were closed!!! It was Sunday, but the stupid guidebook said they would be open. I found a guy wandering around campus and begged him to make us an omelette or something but he refused so we left.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

There's a cool blog about cacti!

Today my upcoming book was mentioned in an unusual blog that talks all about cactuses. I swear. The blog somehow tracks every online mention of cacti. The book is not all about cactuses, per se, though a cactus plays a very important role in the narrative. The blog also included a very cool 'patent' that tells you how to get rid of the spines (which would have helped me tremendously if I'd known about it)

Monday, February 05, 2007

World's Greatest Backpacker

A couple of days ago, I made contact with the world's greatest backpacker --- Scott Williamson, the sport's Lance Armstrong, who is less famous than Lance Armstrong simply because people put so much stock in biking and so little in the sport of backpacking. I've known Scott for quite a while but lost contact with him because he's been out in the woods and changed his email. Anyhow, I want Scott to be one of the people I feature in my book to provide some good balance. In case you haven't heard of him, Scott is the guy who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail twice in one single, sustained effort. I, on the other hand, took two years to hike it, in large part because I contracted giardia and lost more than 30 pounds in the process while recovering in the town of Happy Camp, California. Anyhow, I'm in awe of anyone who can travel 5,200 miles in about five months, in all kinds of steep terrain, in snow, desert, etc.