Happy Thanksgiving!

In two days it will be Thanksgiving and I wanted to stray from my usual fairly non-personal blog (with a few exceptions) to send Thanksgiving greetings and hearty good wishes to all my friends, and readers, for a wonderful day.  We’re doing the usual turkey and all the trimmings here in Utah as I suppose most everyone else is (except I know one group of close friends are planning beef ribs!  You know who you are.)

We’re also awaiting a major snow storm starting in about 7 hours–just in time for the Salt Lake City evening rush hour.  The mountains are already white and lovely from an earlier storm we didn’t really get in the valley, but today’s storm is different.  The ski areas like Brighton, Alta, and Solitude are already up and running as of two weekends ago; they’re quite happy with an early start for the skiers.  Last winter in the valley we hardly got any snow and you all back east caught blizzard after blizzard as we laughed at your expense.  Well, this winter I fear our smugness may come back with a vengence…. 

As for us, in anticipation of the snowfall, I spent yesterday being buffeted around in the wind clearing the last of the now-dead petunias and dill.  I also brought in the tomato cages for winter storage in the garage and harvested the first–and very last–of the Brussels sprouts from the back garden.  I put them in late, and only one of eight stalks matured to get the sprout heads, but what a thrill!  I’ll be planting them again next summer.  What I picked–enough for a meal–will be on the menu tomorrow night with braised pork and noodles. 

Of course, Black Friday is the same everywhere and I am a bit sad that the Christmas spirit has again been reduced to camping in line outside a big box store while the turkey is still warm, if not before.  I always feel sorry for the store employees who have to show up at midnight so people can fight over the first 400 shoppers’ specials for that X-Box or HD TV.  If you’re traveling, stay safe.  If you’re cooking, take it easy and don’t hurry.  Take time to enjoy Thanksgiving, family, and friends.   This holiday shouldn’t become the cooking annoyance between Halloween and Christmas. 

My best to all and I’ll pick up next week with the usual blog content.

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Published in: on November 23, 2010 at 4:51 pm  Comments (1)  

The News You (Probably) Missed

Most places have an assortment of odd and quirky news items that you would miss if you weren’t in the area or didn’t see the newspaper.  Utah is no different and by their nature these news items can be funny.  So here’s a sampling gathered from recent weeks’ headlines.  They include baptisms, clown gangs, yogurt, and corndogs:

Man Sues LDS Church, Blames 200 Baptisms in One Day for Back Pain

Daniel Dastrup down in Las Vegas has brought a medical expenses lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claiming he injured his back performing submersion baptisms in the name of the dead.  (A brief background for the clueless: one of the sacred ordinances of the Mormon faith is that if you are assigned by your local bishop to perform, as your calling, temple ordinance work, your duties include working with another person, both of you dressed in white robes, and while standing in a large baptismal basin–usually oval and raised on the backs of stone 8-10 stone oxen–lowering your partner backwards under the surface of the water, baptising him or her as a proxy in the name of a deceased ancestor who wasn’t Mormon.   According to Mormon beliefs, this allows the deceased the chance to accept and embrace Mormonism in heaven should they desire and bring families together in the afterlife.)

Anyway, Mr. Dastrup, 25, has a slipped disc after performing 200 baptisms in ONE day (not on the same person)!  He claims the church failed to warn him that the repetative nature of the proxy baptisms: bending, lifting , and twisting, could result in physical injury.  Some of the young men and women he immersed weighed up to 250 pounds.  After 2 back surgeries he has had to take an indefinite leave from law school and he can’t work.

“Juggalo Killers” a New Breed of Gang

Ogden, a city which has its share of crime and gangs (Hispanic and Samoan), now has a new gang to contend with: the Juggalo Killers.  Apparently, they are fans of the rap duo, Insane Clown Posse, and have aligned themselves with the California prison gang, Aryan Brothers Liberation.  This new gang’s twist is to wear clown garb and make-up and threaten people (I am told this is somewhat of a national gang).  Women members attached to the gang are called Juggalettes.   A member of the Ogden police force stated that, “It’s hard to take them seriously dressed as clowns…but when they show up at a library to harm people with  butcher knives in their sleeves, well, I have a problem with that.”  Meanwhile, the Juggalos maintain they are merely music lovers.  (I now know why I have never been fond of clowns!)

Utah Teens Pull Off Yogurt Heist & Put Video on Facebook

Several local teens recently planned and pulled off a robbery in a frozen yogurt shop, but instead of taking money, they carted off as much frozen yogurt as they could carry.  Apparently, one of their buddies videotaped the event and later, as a joke, they posted the memories of the heist on Facebook for their friends’ amusement.  Someone recognized them and within a short time the police had scooped them up and they were sitting on their own ice in the county jail.  Ah, thank heavens for social networking!

Corndog Lunch Comes with a High Price

Dan Snyder’s lunch break should have gone better.  Ogden police arrested Snyder after ordering $4.74 worth of corndogs from Wangsgard’s Deli and leaving without paying for them.  He works next door to the deli at Jiffy Lube and had been given a 5-spot by his co-workers to go purchase lunch for everyone.  Surveillance cameras caught Snyder leaving with the corndogs and he was followed to Jiffy Lube where he was found eating the evidence in the break room.  Because he was convicted last year on two charges of misdemeanor theft, another theft conviction gives him a “three strikes and you’re out,” which equals a fine of up to $5000 and up to five years in prison.  The co-owner of the deli said: “We’ll get anyone.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a doughnut or a $100 Craftsman drill; it’s the act, not the item.”  (You have to understand that out here in Utah it is possible to purchase a doughnut and an electric drill from the same deli!)  Apparently, Wangsgard’s staff have had their share of bizarre thefts: recently an elderly woman tried to sneak out with an air freshener in her underwear (No comment!).

Published in: on November 17, 2010 at 4:49 pm  Comments (2)  

“The Chicken Chronicles”–Part VIII

Okay, it has a real potential to get ugly out here in the latest round of the backyard poultry politics.  This time Ogden is involved.  Ogden reminds me a lot of Media, PA, but is a bit bigger, size- and population-wise.   Now, it’s one thing to petition for a chicken coop in a suburban area, but when you involve an urban-type environment, the Ogden city council apparently is scrambling (no pun intended) to understand the dynamics of local hens and roosters in yards.  They will face the same issues as the other small towns around us that have already come to grips with regulating backyard chicken adventures.

The problem, however, as one letter to the editor of the Standard-Examiner stated, apparently arises from the fact that Ogden has a fairly substanbtial Latino/Samoan population (this is where it could get ugly) and even though no ethnic groups were named,  the letter writer was very concerned that chickens would eventually turn into goats (I guess by some miracle of natural selection).  To me, at least, this smacks of ethnic profiling, as it’s a culinary fact that goat meat is often on the dinner table as the main course in Latino and Samoan households.  I believe the person was implying that it’s only a short jump from owning egg-laying fowl to sneaking in a goat or two (as if your neighbors could confuse the two!) to reside it your yard.  This is the first time I’m aware of this fear raising its head and, even though it may be a real concern, it still made me a bit uncomfortable in what it was implying.

So now, Ogden council will be trying to sort out the issue without butting heads or ruffling too many feathers of the good folks just north of us.  This endeavor–raising chickens for eggs–remains a really a hot topic out here, even though winter is upon us now and I suppose any existing backyard chickens need to be winterized or protected somehow from the cold.  Not owning chickens, I have no idea how this all works.  (The rooster that lives near us still crows each morning and through the day.)

In fact, the mountains had their first truly measurable snowfall yesterday (in the valley we got rain and some snow flurries); some of the ski resorts picked up 20+ inches and they’re quite happy.  The Wasatch Front is now robed in its white splendor, so I imagine all animals, furred or feathered, are feeling the cold.

On the other local front, I haven’t had any updates as to how Kaysville sorted its chicken issues out, but will stay on top of it.  In the meantime, enjoy your omlettes and quiches and remember, if you have a hankering to serve goat meat, I recall it’s available in the Philly area at the Italian Market.

Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Last Gasp Halloween Thrills

When Halloween falls on a Sunday out in Utah, as it did this year, it is celebrated on the day before.  The Mormons won’t celebrate any holiday (except Christmas, and they really don’t observe Easter) on a Sunday; yes, that includes July 4th.  All the non-Mormons, the minority, have to follow suit.   It’s a big discussion point out here.  Having said that, Halloween is a popular holiday and carved pumpkin strolls in each town center, house decorations, and trick and treating are really big.

As part of the Halloween offerings out here in the Beehive State, the Odyssey Dance Theatre in Ogden offered its 13th–taking full advantage of triskaidekaphobia–annual production of “Thriller”  in mid-October.  (Disclaimer note: No, I didn’t get to see the show this year, but it’s on my to-do list for 2011.)   The artistic directior, Derryl Yeager, promised this “lucky” 13th yearly show would a “frighteningly original journey into a world of ‘danse macabre’.”  Yeager feels that “this has become our big crowd-drawing production; we have no interest in a Christmas show of The Nutcracker.”

Some of the dance numbers of which he seems to be very proud and were described as a teaser in the newspaper article, include:

  • Sick humor and belly laughs in the “Jason Jam” with a Jason-character who doesn’t quite get it right as he never made it through Jason school.
  • Horror in “The Lost Boys” where an innocent girl falls victum to vampires.
  • Twists and turns in rapid-fire shifts from hip-hop to Riverdance.
  • If you’re a Twilight fan, there’s a dance-off between Team Edward and Team Jacob.
  • Blacklight magic in the “Dem Bones” number.
  • Planned as audience participation (one can only imagine) there’s the “River of Blood Dance” where the dancers are shot off one by one, shooting-gallery style.  The audience always cheers when Jason knocks off the Sugar Plum Fairy (A nod, I guess, to the Christmas show they choose NOT to perform!).
  • The witchy woman number: instead of a male horror character, this year they focused on Lorena Bobbitt.  Remember her?  Way back in 1993, the Virginia woman became famous for cutting off her husband’s penis.  Well, they made her a star as she strikes fear in the heart of every man; her dance routine is called “Lorena Bobbitt Cuts Like a Knife.”
  • “MJ Mania” is their version–a few steps further–of the Jackson “Thriller.”
  • A few staples from other years including Frankenstein’s Monster and his Bride, A Mummy Curse dance, and a Salem witch trial number.
  • And finally, a warm, fuzzy moment with an Elvis sighting.

Back in 2002, the year of the Washington, D.C.-area sniper shootings, Yeager recalls thinking the shooting-gallery atmosphere of “The River of Blood Dance” might not be particularly funny right now.  Backstage, he was biting his nails, but as soon as the first girl went down and people were laughing, he thought, “ok-we’re fine.”  (Not sure what that says about Utah audiences.  Not much empathy?)

Yeager feels the ghostly and ghoulish extravaganza is a “cathartic experience” for theater patrons; they can laugh and be scared out of their wits.  I can’t wait to be terrified and entertained next October! 

Hope you all had a good Halloween–on the correct day!

Published in: on November 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment