Thursday, February 21, 2008

"...perverse and often baffling..."

Last night I was listening to an episode of This American Life and came across a gem of a story:

Malcolm Gladwell, a writer for The New Yorker and author of the books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000) and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005), was describing his early foray into journalism. In his story about his days at the Washington Post, he had, as he describes it, a "Jayson Blair moment," in which he realized that mistakes he put in the paper could have major world impact: from altering the stock market by misreading a ledger to goading the National AIDS Conference to hold their annual meeting in Australia by surreptitiously adding Sydney to a list.

Despite all of this, work at the paper could be rather dull.

In order to make life a little more interesting he made a bet with one of his co-workers to see who could get the phrase, "raises new and troubling questions" into the paper most often. This turned out to be far too easy a challenge as just about every article published "raises new and troubling questions" about something or other. After some debate they settled on a new phrase:

"...perverse and often baffling..."

After many failed attempts, (points were not given if the editors removed "perverse" or "often" - the phrase had to be fully intact) Gladwell managed to get these words onto a front page article.

To find out how, check out this entry in Slate magazine.


p.s. At the end of the Gladwell’s segment, Ira Glass, offhandedly tells listeners:

By the way, if there’s any ambiguity in here at all, young journalists, please note: putting false information into the newspaper is wrong.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Foules: How Romantic!

The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer. The poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. A treaty of marriage was signed on May 2, 1381. When they were married eight months later, he was 13 or 14; she was 14.

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese [choose] his make [mate].


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Don't lick the walls...

Buy your honey a box of Godiva chocolates for Valentine's Day this year and you may just end up with a golden ticket for a night at Manhattan's Bryant Park hotel. The kicker? An all-chocolate room, complete with furniture, artwork and fixtures made out in Godiva decadence.

Admire the Gustav Klimt or Jackson Pollock-inspired chocolate "paintings" or open the books filled with chocolates instead of paper pages. Plunk yourself down on the sofa and munch on the chocolate sides or (dare we even suggest?) lick the chocolate walls.

With the chocolate room there come a few rules: no lighting of the chocolate fireplace or the chocolate candles. One is also discouraged from sitting in the easy chairs unless you want to end up with a chocolate covered ass. A small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.

Well, someone out there will be getting lucky this February 14th. I will do what I usually do on Valentine's Day: stay in to avoid the crowds of oggly couples and wait for the after V-Day chocolate sales. Because in my opinion, chocolate tastes just as good (if not better!) when it's 50% off.


Image from

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

fukitol: the miracle drug

The Pats lost the superbowl, Hilary took Massachusetts and you haven't seen the sun all day long? Try fukitol, hailed as the new miracle drug, offering an alternative treatment to all of life's ailments.

I could use a dose, couldn't you?

Monday, February 4, 2008

First Fridays

One of my good friends has an after work happy hour once a month dubbed, "First Fridays." I've never actually been to the event (which seems to involve port sipping and awkward conversation) but I do use it as an excuse to hold a happy hour of our own later in the evening. I generally warn her a week in advance that a "First Friday" is coming up soon just so we can start thinking about where to go for our end-of-the-week/beginning-of-the-month cocktail.

This month we met at STIX in downtown Boston. I wanted to try out the Ten Cane Raspberry Sashimi (listed on the menu as both a cocktail and a dessert.) The "sashimi" arrived, becomingly displayed in a bento box and looking eerily like real tuna sashimi. It was made with gelatinized Ten Cane rum and raspberry puree and served with a lime-juice dipping sauce along with lime, coconut, orange and ginger sugars. Delicious tuile cookies were served on the side. The "sashimi" was surprisingly good - kind of like a high end jello shot, but not as sticky. We also ordered the cheese plate which came with three hefty portions of delicious mild-blue, a fragrant goat and a creamy brie-like selection. Each cheese was served with an accompanient such as a spicy pepper chutney, a sweet olive paste or a quince spread. It was one of the best cheese plates I've had in Boston.

At 5.30pm the bar was empty, but the place slowly began to fill as we finished our drinks. If the main courses approach the quality of the cheese platter, I'd say it's well-worth the trek downtown.

Image from

Restaurant and Lounge
35 Stanhope Street
Boston, MA 02116