The Salted Carmel Gabfest

Anne’s Maple Leaf and Purple Jellyfish

It has become impossible not to notice that Mother Nature has switched off her summer furnace. After weeks and weeks of unbearable heat, things have cooled to the point that there is almost a certain crispness in the air. To put things in the ‘Starkest’ way, “winter is coming”. I mention this as preamble, before I pivot to my larger story.

I am a fan of the multitude of Slate podcasts. The only problem is that I am not a good fan. I don’t use iTunes to download their episodes. Me bad, let’s move on. These talk shows all follow the same basic format that I’ll call Slate’s rule of three. Each podcast involves three participants, covers three topics, has only two commercial breaks (but this is inching up to three) and is finished with each participant making an endorsement, cocktail chatter, what have you. It is a couple of these recommendations that I want to share here. I would like to share an endorsement from Slate’s Cultural Gabfest, another very recent cocktail chatter from Slate’s Political Gabfest and a recommendation of my own. The Slate rule of three is preserved.

The first endorsement comes from Cultural Gabfest’s Dana Stevens. Her pick was Jessica Oreck’s Mysteries of Vernacular, a project of animated shorts, each one exploring the etymology of one word for each letter of the alphabet. So far, only eight letters have been produced using Oreck’s stop motion animation technique. This leaves plenty of room for growth. Check out ‘P’ for Pants.

The second cocktail chatter harkens back to this post’s preamble. This week’s Political Gabfest’s David Plotz chattered about the Weather Channel’s plan to start naming winter storms. We’re all use to the National Weather Service naming hurricanes. Who could forget Katrina? In past winters we had Snowmageddon, Snowzilla, Snowpocalypse, all names that we can now retire. Instead of NWS first name picks like Andrew, Camille and more recently Isaac, the Weather Channel plans on selecting names from mythology, ancient history, and yoga. Examples for this winter include the following:

  • Athena: The Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspirations, justice and mathematics.
  • Brutus: Roman Senator and assassin of Julius Caesar.
  • Gandolf: An 1896 fantasy character in a medieval country (not to be confused with Tolkien’s Gandalf).
  • Iago: Enemy of Othello in Shakespeare’s play, Othello.
  • Q: The Broadway Express subway line in NYC.
  • Rocky: A single mountain in the Rockies (Not to be confused with the movie by the same name).
  • Yogi: People who do yoga (Bear or Berra?).

My recommendation is for Starbuck’s new Salted Carmel Hot Chocolate. I’m so glad that this little blog operates at such a low-level that it will slip beneath the radar of Slate’s intelligentsia. This is not because I am recommending a Starbuck’s product, but because I’ve only tasted it in their sample size. In Grande sizing it could end up tasting like their pumpkin spiced latté, tasting too much of pumpkin spice by the end. Maybe I should do more research? Nah, I think that I’ll just crowd source this one.

Farmeurs Markets


Pike’s Place Market Bouquets

Stephen Metcalf of Slate’s Culture Gabfest, has publicized this week the newly coined term farmeur to describe the ‘yuppie who is convinced of his agrarian bona fides’. Pike’s Place Market was once a legitimate farmers market in downtown Seattle. Pike’s Market has evolved from its agrarian past to its present day tourism. So, in this Metcalf-ian vein, would it be better to refer to these market patrons as Farmeur Market Shoppeurs?

Thursday Potpourri

We are almost through with this work week, the first work week since summer vacation. Usually, by this post of the week, my thoughts and blog material has begun to run pretty thin, but this week is a bit different, since I’ve all that summer vacation material to continue to mine. I went back to work on Monday and Anne started back, from an even longer hiatus on Tuesday. Until Dan returns the Prius to Saint Louis, we are a one car family, so Anne and I have been carpooling. I drop her off at school and then turn around and go to work. I work later than she does, so she has to walk home from school. Normally, this one to two-mile walk is no problem, but it has been rather hot this week.

This week we are reduced to the Prizm, our oldest and least desirable vehicle. The Prizm doesn’t have a working radio anymore, so I have not been able to listen to NPR during my commute. Instead, I have been listening to various Slate podcasts. These podcasts come in various flavors; there is an Audio Book Club, a Movie Spoiler Special, Political and Cultural Gabfests. These podcasts feature a rotating and seemingly inbred set of erudite commentators. They are very liberal, so liberal that they make me realize just how conservative NPR has become. With these podcast in my iPhone, I shall no longer fear NPR’s pledge drives. Here is a Slate factoid that I would like to pass along: Animated version of the Bayeux Tapestry – It starts halfway through the original work at the appearance of Halley’s Comet and concludes at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Anne has been working in the elementary schools this week. Tuesday, she was in kindergarten. Did you know that the first US kindergarten was in Saint Louis? I’ve biked past the building in south Saint Louis. Wednesday, she was the Seeds to Table Coordinator. When I first heard this, I was rather excited. I had visions of Berkley’s Alice Waters and the Edible School. I envisioned that Anne would lead the kids out into the school’s garden, first to gather the free range chicken’s eggs and then to gather fresh vegetables. Then she would march the children to the kitchen and she, the kids and the school’s chef would prepare the noon meal. Boy was I wrong! The temperature that day was over a hundred and Anne doesn’t like to do that kind of heat anymore, she goes to the U.P. instead. Second the cafeteria is undergoing renovation and the school is doing a sort of internal meals on wheels in the interim, so there was no table there. She ended up reading to the children and interacting with them in a sort of Q&A forum. This morning, on our commute to school, we passed some parents and students that Anne thought were participating in the Walking Bus. I offered to drop her off, so she could “catch” the bus too, but she declined, saying that she was expected to be there earlier than the students.

OK Go is a rock band that made the viral music video, Here It Goes Again, the so-called treadmill music video. Here they go again with another music video of their song, All Is Not Lost. This video was produced with the modern dance group, Pilobolus. The use of a glass floor makes for a great visual effect in this video. I love the way that they spell out words with their feet. If you have the Chrome browser, you can watch an interactive version of it. I did find this second song less tuneful. Thanks, Dave from work!