Blah Blah Blog by Jessica Harper by Jessica
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Archive for August, 2009


Monday, August 24th, 2009

Hannah And Weinermobile

Hot dogs made the news in Wisconsin some weeks ago, when the driver of an Oscar Meyer Weinermobile lost her mind and smashed the goofy vehicle into what used to be the lovely home of what used to be a happy person. (YouTube evidence here.)

As a child, I thought those wieners-on-wheels were cute and lively, although I never understood what they did exactly, except sort of putter around, spewing carbon monoxide. You don’t see many Weinermobiles these days; maybe they’re embarrassed about being so un-green. Or maybe people have become less responsive to the aggressive promotion of those pink tubes of pig shrapnel we call hot dogs, but I don’t think so.

Right around the time of the Oscar Meyer house crash, my friend Hannah saw a Weinermobile in Venice (no, not Italy). She had not seen one in years, and she seized the photo opportunity (see picture). That Wisconsin homeowner may have crossed wieners off his grocery list, but Hannah has not: she remains loyal to the hot dog.

Apparently she is not alone; the hot dog is happening. Local spots like City Bakery and Nate ‘N Al’s have awesome dogs on the menu and people are lining up to eat them.

Hot dog at The Stand

Pink’s on LaBrea is in its 70th year of serving hot dogs and business has never been better. Hannah and I went to The Stand in Westwood where they serve all hot dogs, all the time. I got the chicken dog (yes, I’m a wuss), but Hannah went traditional (see other pic). Delish all over.

So, if you see a Weinermobile headed towards your home, evacuate. But don’t give up on the dog: it’s hot.

Check ’em out:

Pink’s Hot Dogs
The Stand
Nate ‘N Al

Whoops, City Bakery has closed its Brentwood location! they supposedly will open again somewhere else but it’s a mystery at this point.



Thursday, August 20th, 2009

My younger daughter is about to leave home, following her sister to college on the east coast. This means an empty nest; for the first time in twenty years, I’ll have no kids to kick around any more.

I will, however, have the companionship of our golden retriever, Oliver, which is why I was thrilled to learn of a device called the Bowlingual. The gadget has two parts, one of which is a dog collar that picks up and translates his barks, sending the translation to the second component, a hand-held speaker that spits out the dog’s message in a human voice.

I can imagine, when the kid-free silence around here gets deafening, having a Bowlingual chat with Oliver. I would probably stay away from subjects like the election in Afghanistan or Tom Delay’s appearance on “Dancing With The Stars,” since the dog is bored by politics. At least, I think he is: he sleeps right through Jim Lehrer. (Okay, I know, who doesn’t, right?)

Oliver is an avid foodie, however, so that would be a good conversation starter. I’d like to ask him how he felt about that free-range chicken he swiped from the kitchen—should I have adjusted the rosemary?–or why he finds it so appealing to chew on newly purchased teal suede pumps, while he won’t touch Junior Mints.

The only trouble with the Bowlingual is that the current (second) generation of the device offers the translation only in the voice of a Japanese woman. So, you have to hire a translator to translate the translation, which may or may not be cost prohibitive.

So, until I hear that the Bowlingual has gone English, Oliver and I will continue to stumble through life without understanding each other’s food preferences. (Kinda like it’s been with the kids for twenty years.)
P.S. Click here for Oliver’s chicken recipe.


School Lunches

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

You’ve got to check this out: click here to see school lunches from all over the world.

One look at this stuff and I’m swept back in time to my high school cafeteria, standing in line behind Bruce Jarchow (my cute boyfriend/football star). The smell of the room is always the same, regardless of what the day’s entrée is, and it’s not an odor that stimulates the appetite. I’m watching volunteer moms slap those burgers on our plates, adding a few overcooked green beans and a wad of mashed potatoes before we move on to the pyramid of milk cartons and the triangles of pie.

The food sucked. My guess is, it still does. My younger daughter’s high school’s food sucks. My older daughter’s fancy pants college’s food sucks. What’s up with this? Isn’t it just as easy to spend money on decent food as on suck-o food?

I complain about this a fair amount, which is why I found this site, with snapshots of what the world’s kids are eating, so interesting. I scrolled down the page, noting that some of the lunches look pretty darn good, featuring foods that have retained some color and fiber, while others, uh, don’t. My eyes came to rest on a particular lunch tray that looked like the bottom of my pet hamster’s cage, it’s contents all beige and pellet-like. To me it was the worst one, punishment food, food that would assure a student’s failure in the classroom and dismal future.

Scroll down to the thirteenth tray. That was my pick for worst lunch on the page. Now note which country it is that’s serving it up. Now weep.


Psycho Melon

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

As you probably know, Alfred Hitchcock made the unusual choice of killing off his leading lady half way through his classic movie, “Psycho.” What you may not know is that the gruesome sound of the knife entering Janet Leigh’s body was created by a sound effects geek stabbing a casaba melon.

Ever since I heard this story I’ve thought differently about the casaba melon. Well, actually I thought about it for the first time, having never considered it before. Suddenly it became an intriguing fruit, not just another non-entry on my shopping list.

The next thing I’d like to know is why the sound guy chose a casaba, not, say, a watermelon or a cantelope, for the grizzly job. How was the casaba determined to have the perfect quality, a certain je ne sais quoi, that helped that fruit snag the role of stunt body for Ms. Leigh?

Being an actor, my slightly perverse imagination leaps to an image of a melon casting call. Dozens of them are lined up, pacing, studying scripts. A production assistant pops from a smoky room: “Okay, Honeydew, you’re up.” The other melons size her up as the starry-eyed Honeydew rolls off to meet her fate. She knows the gig involves pain and mutilation, but she’d do anything to work with Hitch.

As the clock ticks in the waiting room, Casaba wonders how long this will take. He’s got a two o’clock cattle call for a Ralph’s commercial.

When Honeydew finally re-appears, she glows, apparently from positive feedback. Little does she know that the part will not be hers, that she will be disappointed once again. She will, however, roll on, seeking other employment in the dream-crushing profession she has chosen.

“Okay, uh, Casaba? ” the P.A. says, pronouncing it wrong, as they always do. For this relatively unknown melon, however, the day will have a happy outcome. The history-making casting choice will raise casaba awareness exponentially, opening doors for future generations of the melon.(Don’t ya just love show business?)

If you’re looking for a casaba melon recipe, click here.