The Best Christmas Anecdote Ever. EVER.

The Most Hilarious thing happened today. I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things to help with leftover management, and as I was walking in the doors, I heard this... weird music. Like an old electric organ.

Hmm. Electric organ piped through the sound system seemed like an odd choice for the inevitable Christmas music that will be playing for the next month. But, as it turned out, it wasn't exactly what I thought it was.

Organ? Yes. Sound system? NO! INSTEAD, IT WAS A DREAM COME TRUE: Old lady. Hammond B2. SERIOUSLY BAD Christmas music. No, no, no... I don't think you understand how bad it was. Shockingly bad. And every time she played, there was somehow a synth drum in the background. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." On an ORGAN. With a SYNTH DRUM accompaniment. I was waiting for Dom DeLuise to pop out from beyond the grave and tell everyone at Kroger that they were on Candid Camera.

People. This was EPIC.



The "Prime Minister's Questions" part of C-Span coverage of the House of Commons, that is.

Here's how it goes down: The MPs don't address the PM directly, but ask the speaker, "Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister do such-and-such, or will he do such-and-such?" To which the PM replies, "Mr. Speaker, the Conservative members should remember this and that." And during all this, the MPs are shouting "No!" or "Hear, hear!" depending what they think of what's being said. They laugh loudly, boo loudly, insult each other (in the third person, since they don't speak directly), holler, and shout each other down, while the Speaker chastises them if they go on too long, all with the utmost of British structure and politeness.

It's brilliant.

Wulgum t'Straya

Is it just me, or does Hugh Jackman's accent in the trailer for Baz Luhrman's new Australia epic sound like a joke accent? It's SO thick. Like Paul Hogan's. Or like Jimbo Mobbs'.

image (c) 20th Century Fox
PLUS the gorgeous Nicole "Botox" Kidman with the most pruny, tight-lipped, finishing-school voice ever put on film.

Baz can count on my 10 bucks for this movie. It looks deliciously melodramatic.


Clinton Loyalty in the Obama White House

A fascinating chart of Obama staffers, plotted by experience and by loyalty to "Clintonism." Obama's made several good moves over the last couple of weeks as he vets potential appointees; he's shown a prudent desire to surround himself with "prickly, semi-autistic, and egomaniacal" geniuses, as this article states, and he seems unafraid to work with smart, hard-working people, even if they hold very different positions and opinions than his own.


Thanksgiving-Related Musings


Oh. Oh, no. Guys, you're never going to believe this. Sandra Lee, who is on TV as I type, has sunk to an all-time low, from the depths of crapitude to the Level Three Nuclear-Attack-Proof Sub-Basement of Crapitude. She is making "Thanksgiving leftover empanadas." Out of pre-rolled pie crust, leftover mashed potatoes and leftover green bean casserole, seasoned with packaged taco seasoning. TACO SEASONING!

Here's my T-day menu:

Turkey. (um... duh...)
Dressing. I'm a plain bread dressing kind of gal. I like cornbread dressing (and Carrie's chicken and dressing), but the dressing of my childhood is just white bread, celery, onions, poultry seasoning, and broth.
Mashed potatoes. Simple. No herbs, no roasted garlic, just mashed potatoes, milk, butter, and cream cheese, my secret ingredient.
Homemade egg noodles.
Gravy. Gallons of it.
Cranberry sherbet. My mom's family recipe. It's light, tart, sweet, crystalline, refreshing... basically everything that the rest of T-day dinner is not.
Pumpkin pie
Pecan pie

Did you know that there are people who don't like Thanksgiving leftovers? Those people are NUTS. What, I ask you, is not to like about having a fridge full of the best dang food of the whole dang year that you can re-invent into all sorts of delectable treats? Turkey pot pie! Potato cakes! Turkey noodle soup! White turkey chili! Not to mention the sheer joy of cold turkey sandwiches and hot fried dressing. COME ON.

Mmmm... I can't wait until next Thursday...


Food. Again. But Not Really Food Blogging, As Such. Just Read It, OK?

Here's my latest revelation about my eating habits. Do I have the right to cheap food? I was standing in front of the meat counter at Whole Foods the other day, mentally grousing about the prices, when that question popped into my head, followed quickly by, define cheap.

Does "cheap" simply mean the price per pound? Or does cheap mean that the animals were raised, pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, on a factory farm, at whatever cost to the environment and to the health of the livestock itself, then inhumanely slaughtered by poorly-trained and -supervised hourly workers in a massive plant?

It's been something for me to ponder -- as a Christian, how does my God-given responsibility to live with an eternal, Kingdom perspective even now effect how I think about the welfare of creation?

I read a fantastic article a while back, by a woman who buys her meat directly from the "growers" whenever possible, even visiting the operations herself. She wrote about coming to terms with being an omnivore -- recognizing that, every time I bite into a hamburger, I am putting into my body something that was once alive. Ultimately, she's OK with that, and so am I. But the least I can do, she says, is to "look my food in the eye," so to speak -- to know where it comes from, how it was raised and slaughtered, and not simply purchase it in "nuggets" at the drive-through. That really resonated with me.

Any other thoughts?


Food Blogging!!

My friend Kristen came over for dinner tonight, and I made this gorgeous recipe from "A Twist of the Wrist," courtesy of Food and Wine's new website, but discovered (by me) on the lovely Claudia's food blog: Nancy Silverton's lamb meatballs with chickpeas and piquillo peppers.

The original recipe called for lamb, obviously, but being unable to buy good lamb for less than the price of raising a child through college, I opted for ground beef. The verdict? Two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Seriously, it was so flavorful and complex and delicious, and the textures of the chickpeas and the meatballs together -- mmmmmmm... A very big thank you to Claudia for providing the inspiration.

I did make a few subs and additions (duh) since I can't leave well enough alone. I used dry thyme instead of fresh, and added a big heaping tablespoon of lemon zest to the ground meat. I think I also added enough garlic to repel an army of vampires. But it's ok. No handsome men were present at tonight's meal, so we're all good. Actually, no men. At all. I'm not bitter.

A main course this delicious called for a simple but equally delicious dessert. I've been looking for a good way to use up the currants I bought to make hot cross buns, and came across a few recipes for barm brack or tea brack -- fruit-studded Irish sweet breads -- and they were the inspiration for what I eventually came up with: Spiced currant cake. With freshly whipped cream. And a little nutmeg on top. Seriously, somebody stop me before I take over the world with my awesomeness. Did I mention I made up this dadgum recipe?? Because I did.

Oh, you'd like to know how I made it? I thought you'd never ask.

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup raw (turbinado) sugar
3 eggs
1 T. lemon juice
3/4 c. milk
1 T. lemon zest

2 cups flour
4 t. baking powder
1 scant t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt

1 c. dried currants

Cream together butter and sugar until very fluffy. Add eggs and beat until frothy, scraping down sides of bowl frequently. Add milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Sift together flour and baking powder and stir in nutmeg and salt. Toss currants in flour mixture. Add to wet ingredients and mix just until moistened, about 30 seconds.

Pour into an 8 x 8 baking pan and bake for 45-55 minutes in a 350 oven, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean but not dry. Serve with freshly whipped cream and garnish with a sprinkling of nutmeg. Devour. Repeat.

Aren't you glad we don't have to graze like cattle? I sure am. Yay food!


Fear-Mongering Is a Bad Rhetorical Device

Let me just give y'all a little piece of advice: if you're reading an article about the future of America under Obama's leadership and you find yourself gripped with panic, stop reading the article.


Come out of the Closet With Me

People, seriously. Let's reject the idea of race. Let's embrace diversity in ethnicity and finally forget about categorizing ourselves according to skin color. Here's an excerpt from today's article on Boundless from Thabiti Anyabwile:

This is not merely a problem of integration, of spiritual forced busing to churches. It's more serious than that. From Sunday to Sunday, month to month, year after year, Christians of every hue are abandoning one another in lovelessness. Because we are too often loveless, "race" overpowers us even though it is not real. Our love seeks the limits of convenience and familiarity, to be bounded by the ease that "race" offers, when Christ calls us to a largeness and breadth of love that is like His own, that assembles and gathers and loves and gives to every nation, tribe and language. And that's to be displayed in our churches. Christ has made us one and called us to unity, but we have filed a declaration of independence from one another and voluntarily enacted Jim Crow practices to reinforce it.


Seriously, please go read the article I linked to yesterday, and today's installment too. Then if you're still interested, head over to T4G.org and listen to Thabiti's message on this very topic. You'll be blessed, and I hope you'll be motivated to erase the category of race in your heart and mind.


A Beautiful Rejection

I'm about to come out of the closet here, people. Are you ready for this? Brace yourself.

I don't believe in race.

Still reading? OK! While you're in the mood to read, read this:

[F]or the Christian, there is an even greater basis for unity across ethnic lines and the abandonment of "race" as a part of our worldview and spiritual life — our union in Jesus Christ.

When the Christian walks into that lunchroom, she or he sees two groups and thinks, Descended from Adam — like me. Made in the image of God — like me. Fallen sinners — like me. And then if we find that any of those persons in the lunchroom are Christians, we are able to say, United to Christ — like me. Sharing His Spirit — like me. Received the promises of eternal life and everlasting joy — like me!

Catch the full article, by visionary pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, here.


Chill Out, Praise God, and Let's Pray

OK, so it looks like Barack Obama is the next president of the United States. Lemme 'splain the title.

Chill out: Let's all just take things down a few notches -- liberals, dems, and Obama Girls, brotha is NOT Jesus. Conservatives, republicans, and Palinites, brotha is also NOT Satan. We've had a republican president for the last eight years; now we have a democrat. K. Let's roll with that.

Praise God: He's in control. "There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." Romans 13:1-2

Let's pray: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:1-4



Random list time!

Stuff Christians should stop freaking out about:

1. Halloween. Dude. What a bunch of wasted energy is poured into the anti-Halloween lobbying that happens every year!! Is Samhain a pagan holiday? Yup. Is Halloween a pagan holiday? Uh, no. It's primarily the Eve of All Saints, and secondarily a cutesy Hallmark-perpetuated candy orgy/ excuse for little kids to dress up and show off their dressed-up-ness. Let your kids trick-or-treat, don't let them trick-or-treat. Whatever. But please don't try to convince me that the Bible says it's wrong for Christians to let their kids put on Superman capes and go door to door asking for candy. Please.

2. Disputable issues like consumption of alcohol, R-rated movies, tattoos and piercings, birth control, etc. Read Romans 14, and remember that we're not to look down on people who don't feel freedom in these areas, nor judge those who do.

3. Politics. Christians can vote, be involved in their community political processes, argue passionately for their political positions, and even (in some circumstances) run for office. Should they hang all their hopes of their country being transformed for the better on a political party, politician, or ideology? Definitely NOT. The Kingdom of God isn't Republican or Democrat or Green or Labour or any other such thing, and it won't be advanced by the (conscious) efforts of secular political machinery. God will advance his Kingdom.

4. Anecdotes that "prove" our points. We're so eager to latch onto this or that bit of scientific or archaeological or historical or sociological evidence that confirms our positions (like in this Boundless article), but we roll our eyes when pagans and atheists do the same (like with the ossuary found a few years ago containing the bones of a dude named Jesus son of Joseph). We ought to take an attitude of quiet confidence when it comes to these sorts of discoveries. Of course history, archaeology, and the like will confirm and support the Scriptures -- God did, after all, create everything and all truth belongs to him -- but that's not why we trust the Scriptures. We trust them because God has, by his incomprehensible grace, enlivened our hearts and enabled us to see in the Scriptures the testimony of Christ, his perfect Son and our atoning sacrifice. So we should be glad, knowing that the Scriptures are true, when some new affirmation of their historicity comes to light, without placing our hope or confidence in those discoveries.

Stuff Christians should get more fired up about:

1. Nominal Christianity and twisted "Gospels." Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, TBN, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Ann Holmes Redding (the Muslim Episcopal priest), and Jeremiah Wright should not be given a free pass by Christians and pastors around the world. Just because someone claims to be a brother in Christ and uses churchy-sounding words does not make him a Christian. And don't even get me started on hip-hop artists who give a shout-out to Jesus when they win a VMA for their hit single about making sure one ho don't find out about another ho.

2. Manhood, womanhood, and families. The Scriptures we (supposedly) hold dear are full of instruction about and examples of what godly men, women, and families look like. Something is not right when people who call themselves Christians divorce with impunity, reject and despise God's blessing of children, and in all other ways look just like the world in the way they live as men and women, and the way their families work. Early apologists and historians appealed to the morality and purity of Christian families as evidence for the truth of the Christian faith. Pretty tough to do that now, huh?

OK, that's enough ranting and randomness for the day.

Maybe one more thing. I'm watching NCAA basketball RIGHT NOW. AWESOME.