Sometimes I get really cynical and then things like this come along and my hope in technology, humanity, and the intersection of the two is restored and then some. Super, super sweet little project. Go listen!
I am slowly working my way to a culinary world where I make as much as possiblefrom scratch: it all started with Brian requesting homemade tortillas, got worse with Mark Bittman’s oh so easy bread baking instructions, and now I’ve just lost it. I want everything in my kitchen to be ingredients for things instead of things. In the coming weeks I am hoping to tackle handmade pasta, my ice cream maker, Smitten Kitchen’s pop tarts, and my own sweet tea infused vodka. In the next few years I’ll start homebrewing and keeping backyard chickens. I don’t know if I’m inspired by Martha Stewart, a fear of the apocalypse, a childlike curiosity regarding what’s inside everything, a shamefully inappropriate dream to time travel to 1950 and be a housewife, or a little bit of all of the above.
Anyway, here’s my advice on making tortillas, which will make your at home tacos approximately 200 times better. I don’t have one of those fancy tortilla presses so this is by hand:
Mix it with water (and a bit of salt) as per the directions on the back
Get a good skillet nice and hot on the burner while you…
Grab a hackey sack sized ball of dough and toss it back and forth between your damp hands until it’s flat.
If you’re having trouble getting it flat this way (it takes a LOT of practice), try putting down a piece of saran wrap, placing a dough ball on top of it, placing another sheet of saran on top of flat, and flattening it with the bottom of a pan, plate, or skillet.
Without a press, your tortilla will be thicker than the corn tortillas you’re used to buying, like about a 1/4 of an inch thick. It’s fine. It still tastes really good.
Put it on the skillet (on high heat) for about 45-60 seconds, flip and do the other side for the same amount of time, or until it starts to golden slightly. You don’t want it to be crispy but you don’t want it to taste like dough either. Assuming you’ve eaten plenty of tortillas in your life, when to take it off should come pretty natually.
Summer Anne Recommends (if you’re in Austin, Texas):
Ordering the cookies at Alamo Drafthouse. My new job at the Alamo Ritz has afforded me several insider opinions on the best things about the best movie theater in the world. The most important is this: when you order the chocolate chip cookies (a la mode or not, depending on your tastes), they are baked to order. When they are delivered to you, they have just been lifted from the oven. Your runner is probably drooling at the smell of them wafting from the plate as she takes them to your table. They are the best thing on the menu and the five bucks you will pay for them is worth it and then some.
I forgot how good Breakfast At Tiffany’s really is. For some reason I had remembered not liking it as much as I felt I was supposed to, maybe because as a fourteen year old I didn’t understand why a guy as nice as Fred would fall for a girl as batshit crazy as Holly. That’s probably still a valid concern, except that since I’ve grown up, I’ve both been and loved plenty of crazy just as confusing and complicated as Holly’s. Whether it should or not, it all makes perfect sense to me now and Holly seems perfectly beautiful in there behind all of her neuroses and insecurity and flagrant lying.
It’s not the same with The Last Picture Show, a movie I love just as much if not a little more, but which does not have a happy ending. And while Jacy is very beautiful and alluring, I still don’t understand why a nice guy would love her and don’t think I ever will. Her heart is made of stone, while Holly’s heart, although difficult to uncover, is clearly made of kitten fur and banjo strings.
Seriously, let’s not all get into relationships that leave a bad taste in our mouths. At least not anymore. I mean, I know we all have to in order to provide ourselves with learning experiences, but it’s so tiring to hold on to the kind of emotions that prohibit one from even talking to one other person. We’re all people, right? Imagine that statement as holding the same kind of sway as “we’re all cheetahs, right?” Cheetahs are almost extinct in the same way that serious reflection is among modern fit-to-comfort romances are.
Don’t we all have someone to forgive? Don’t we all have someone to try to understand? Don’t we all want lots of green houses with lots of pretty plants growing in them?
I could never make an installation piece that could possibly express the way I feel about the relations I’ve had with people over the course of my life, and I feel safe in assuming that the rest of you feel the same way. And don’t we all feel like such a disaster for not being able to express ourselves in such a mind-blowing way. Like, we’re all our own secret police arresting ourselves for not living up to our own standards?
The best anyone can do is to love whoever is around who wants to be loved.
“But when Roy was asked if any Astros memorabilia was lost in the tornado and he revealed his 2005 NLCS MVP trophy is now in pieces, likely scattered over hundreds of yards of land, my heart sank. I remember Roy receiving the trophy and promptly handing it to his dad, Billy, who clutched it with pride and beamed as his son credited him for everything good that has happened to him in baseball.”—Alyson’s Footnotes: Roy counts his blessings after sifting through the rubble.
The weather is warming up—which means it’s time to fire up the grill and invite friends over for burgers, brats, and a celebration of our victory over the edible mammals. But … what do you feed your weird vegetarian friend?
This question seems to genuinely concern a lot of people. Since many people organize meals around a meat dish, it becomes baffling to plan a meal without meat. But it’s really not hard.
What do vegetarians eat?
Food. Except meat.
Are chickens made out of meat?
Are fish made out of meat?
Yes. Some vegetarians eat it anyway. Either ask or assume they don’t eat meat.
Ken Levine collects the three parts of Chuckles Bites The Dust (the best episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and maybe any show, ever) in this post from last year. This episode ain’t on Hulu and the quality on youtube isn’t the absolute best, but if you’ve never seen it you should watch it now, and lament the loss of deeply hilarious sitcoms with me.
Summer Anne recommends: keeping a pot of fresh basil.
It’s easy to keep alive and you can cut a few leaves from the top whenever you need basil. It will singlehandedly up your culinary magic points by approximately 500, even if you don’t put basil on EVERYTHING like I do.
Other easy things that will make your food way better without much effort: splurging on fancy olive oil instead of the generic kind, cooking your eggs with cumin, squeezing lemon on things, baking with cake flour, learning to make your tortillas from scratch, a good knife.
I like…the calmness, the authority, the curation of a daily paper, where I know I’m not going to be sent into something totally trivial and non-germane.
He offers four ideas associated with print, but readily applicable to any platform:
1. Comprehensiveness and containment 2. Length and thoughtfulness 3. Professionalism and expert curation 4. Physicality and variety
“I don’t want to read online,” Eggers said. “I don’t want to wake up and look at a screen. I feel like as a society, we try to put everything on that same goddamn screen, and pretty soon we’re going to be eating on the screen or, like, making love through the screen. It’s just sort of like: ‘Why does everything have to be on the screen?’
Some things, indeed, are not meant for the screen.
The title of this piece should be read in the most obnoxious dude bro turned old voice you can muster: “why don’t you take in a REAL game, you little nerd?!?”
Spring is here, and throughout the land, baseball fans don their caps and root, root, root in the glowing warmth of…
It’s true. Baseball’s magic has been hijacked. On any given day, far more people now check their fantasy-league statistics, perhaps as many as 15 million, than sit in the stands watching Major League action.
Yes, because 15 million people could totally fit in all of the Major League parks combined. Oh wait. Also, Mitch completely ignores the fact that ticket prices for a major league ballgame have soared since he was a kid, a little fact you might consider mentioning when you’re writing an article contrasting today’s fandom with your own. Ignoring the passage of time! Next, he’ll be lamenting the fact that people watch games on TV rather than listening to them on the radio.
Fantasy folks have their own teams and their own standings—all based on real players’ statistics—in a shadow world of make-believe games often played on a computer, games that never see a ball or hear a cheer.
I have to admit, Mitch really made me laugh with the line “in a shadow world of make-believe games.” Way to make friendly gambling sound like an ominous sci-fi movie. I really hope someone makes that movie actually. It could be kind of like “The Fan” with DeNiro except instead of being obsessed with a real baseball player, DeNiro is obsessed with an imaginary “make believe” player in his “shadow world” of crime and corruption.
It’s as if you took the best lines from Shakespeare and formed your own play. Or took rock’s best guitar solos and strung them into “your” song. Fantasy baseball uses the talents but loses the stage. And in so doing, it loses much more.
Or, it’s as if you betted on a group of baseball players.
Now, don’t misunderstand. Fans have a right to their fun. Some collect trading cards. Some record every at-bat with a colored pencil. Heck, as a kid, I sold programs for the Philadelphia Phillies. I trudged up and down the stadium steps, a bag over my shoulder, reminding the crowd, “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard!”
"Fans have a right to their fun," but only if I, Mitch Albom, understand and can relate to it.
But those fans had come to see the game. To cheer a dramatic home run or an inning-ending strikeout. They wanted their team to win. And if it lost, the fact that one player had three hits was of no consolation.
The biggest problem with Albom’s thesis begins here. He assumes that no one that play fantasy baseball likes or watches or cares about real baseball. That theory is more than wrong: it’s totally stupid. Why in the world would I even consider playing fantasy baseball if I had no interest in baseball? The reason I don’t play fantasy football is simple: I don’t want to watch football. The reason I do play fantasy baseball is also simple: I watch baseball constantly, and having a couple fantasy teams add a little bit of fun to the mix when I’m watching any MLB game. I’d be willing to venture a guess that I’ve probably watched twice as much baseball this year — two games (Astros-Giants and a AAA game in Round Rock) in person and at least a dozen on TV — as Mitch Albom has.
In fantasy baseball, it’s the opposite. The real outcome doesn’t matter. Every other player in the lineup can whiff, as long as the one guy on your fantasy team has a good day.
Again, assuming that one rules out the other. Every single person in each of my fantasy leagues has a major league team that they cheer for.
And this is where sports dies and statistics take over. In the real game, a player may bunt the ball to help his team win. He’s a hero. But in the fantasy world, he’s a zero.
Wrong. This part reads like he is still mad over Moneyball.
Which may be why most big-league players I know aren’t wild about fantasy leagues. And why most managers roll their eyes at the trend.
"Most big league players I know”
"I never pay attention to it," says the Detroit Tigers’ Jim Leyland, who’s been managing the real thing for more than 20 years. "It’s amazing when you hear fans say, ‘Hey, I had your guy on my fantasy team.’ That doesn’t mean anything to us.
Because I was sure that the fact that Rick Porcello is on my fantasy team really meant something to Jim Leyland.
"Maybe people do it to feel like they’re in charge of a real team. But it’s nothing like a real team, believe me. A real team has personal problems, injuries, the long grind of the season. You plug in fantasy players, it’s like robots. You’re missing the human pulse."
Thank you, Leyland, for letting me know that setting the lineup of my fantasy team online isn’t really like managing a real team. My dreams are shattered.
The human pulse. Exactly. If you program a computer correctly, it can play an entire fantasy season without you. Try winning a real game without a human being on the mound.
"If you program a computer correctly, it can play an entire fantasy season without you." — not very successfully, Mitch. Do some research, silly.
Fantasy leagues—which first surged in the 1980s—are big in football and basketball, too. They’re part of an enhanced sports experience that includes video games which let you run, move, and even celebrate as real players—so you can feel like the star. It’s as if we want more and more to “own” the sports thing, even if we’re not a bit athletic. If that Avatar movie ever becomes reality, kids will slip into NBA bodies rather than blue skin.
Oh no! People are making the best out of the fact that most of them can’t afford to ever attend professional sporting events by making the best of what they have at home? It’s possible that the era of ridiculously overpaid superstar athletes could end? What in heavens will we do then! We won’t have any real heroes to take PEDs, cheat on their wives, and shoot up the clubhouse! Athletes will be just athletes, judged on their ability to play the game rather than their example to mankind! The world will collapse!
I worry for this growing fantasy-sports world, not for what its followers are experiencing, but for what they’re not. If you’re so busy computing stats, you miss the real-life drama, you miss the physical artistry, you miss the electricity of a stadium and the unity of your neighbors cheering alongside you. Remember, no one does the wave alone in his basement.
With the basement line, Albom really pissed me off. That’s where it becomes clear that he was no real tangible concept of who plays fantasy baseball (I really hope he receives some wrath from some folks he knows who probably engage in this dangerous activity), and in his mind he’s picturing millions of skinny, glasses-wearing, ‘NERDS’ who did better than him in school but couldn’t qualify for the varsity baseball team. And the truth is, those guys DO play fantasy sports. But it’s because they are fans and they want another way to enjoy and appreciate the game. Mitch seems to want sports fandom to be an all frat-boys club of big date raping dudes who vomit on kids at a Phillies game. What makes it extra funny though, is that he doesn’t even realize that at this point in time, half those frat-boys play fantasy sports too.
The human pulse. A base runner’s straining face as he chugs from third to home. A pitcher’s glare on a full count. The thud of a strike hitting a catcher’s mitt. The smacking sound of a sure home run.
Baseball minus such things is just math. And let’s be honest. Wasn’t math class when we snuck the earphone from the transistor radio and enjoyed our original fantasies about the game?
John directs me to this simple, mean, true takedown of the whole “I’m oppressed because I’m rich and I pay more taxes” argument laid out for the umpteenth time in the WSJ this tax-day morning. <3 Chait <3