Friday Roundup: A Few From the Vault

I caught up on a LOT of reading during the past week or so, mostly because of the Thanksgiving holiday. I spent the better part of two days reading every single magazine that I had missed during this very busy month and it was great. Anyway, just a warning that some of the below is kind of old…

– I loved this piece on the Grateful Dead and their legacy that was in The New Yorker last week SO SO much. (However, I assume that if you were never into them, this article probably won’t seem quite as wonderful as I’m telling you it is?)

– Also enjoyable, from the same issue of The New Yorker, is this thing on the work of Ryan Murphy. It really made me want to re-watch season 1 of Popular, but not season 2.(Also, HAHA “Queer Eyes, Full Hearts”.)

– OMG, also! If you still have the November 19th issue of TNY…please read Roger Angell’s heartbreaking (and relatively short) piece on what the dead don’t know. And the Kid Rock profile.

– Everyone should drink a ton of coffee, apparently. (The Atlantic)

– And here are the 10 Best Books of 2012, according The New York Times. (I have only read one, Bring Up the Bodies, and it was incredible and deserves all of the praise that’s been heaped on it.)

– On the heels of reading like 47 reviews of Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree, I read this NYT Magazine article on ‘The Autism Advantage’.

– Jenny Slate was on the Yo, Is This Racist? podcast this week so you should listen to it. Yay!

– This is fun: Susan Rice, Condi Rice…How Can Important People Have the Same Last Name? (The Awl)

– And finally, this important question was posed in laaaast week’s NYT Magazine: What Brand is Your Therapist? (Mine is NOT a digital-media navigator because if she were, I would be much better at blogging.)

OK, I’m done. Have a great weekend everyone!

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Two Turkeys

I cooked two turkeys during the month of November. That is two more turkeys to add to the list of turkeys I’ve cooked in my lifetime, bringing my total to four. I wish I could have written about this in a more timely manner, but I’m still recovering from many, many days of celebration.

The first turkey – nicknamed Reginald P. Birdington – was for the annual friendsgiving (for the lack of a better term) that I host with my friends Jen and Liza the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This event is officially called “Cheese?giving” as it is derived from the name of the fake band that we – shockingly, soberly – started in college. We started this as a way to get all of our friends together when we moved to New York City after college and it has been a success for three years now. Each year we provide the turkey and a few other things but request that our guests bring appetizers, side dishes, desserts and beverages to add to the mix.

Reginald P. Birdington – also known to some as Reginald B. Turkington – was about twenty-five pounds, making him our largest Cheese?giving turkey to date. (We probably ended up having forty people so…a turkey this hefty was pretty necessary.) His preparation was certainly a group effort. Liza picked him up and started the brining process – with brine from the Greenpoint Trading Co. – twenty-four hours before we started cooking him.

Jen and I went to Liza’s the night before to discuss other preparations for the party, but we ended up drinking several bottles of wine and eating large amounts of sushi, which was great for my digestion. We had pretty much everything we needed anyway. I got up super early the next morning, went grocery shopping and headed back over to Liza’s, still burping up what was basically ceviche at that point. We successfully hefted the bird with brine bag out of the refrigerator and into the sink, took the bird out of the brine bag and (mercifully) spilled only a little bit of the brine on the floor. Then we shoved him into his roasting pan and into the oven and disinfected the entire kitchen.

Reginald

I didn’t take too many pictures of the other things we made, because I was using my phone to play music for most of the day. (Spotify playlist here: Cheesegiving. I suggest listening on shuffle as I was too lazy to order the songs.) We spent the remaining hours before the party making cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts (that I made with this Martha Stewart recipe and never served because there was too much on the table) and a few other things. I had just as much fun preparing everything as I did at the actual party!

Brussels sprouts that eventually went uneaten.

Even though we were nervous about turnout and being able to serve and clean up so much food out of a small kitchen, everything worked out really well. It seemed like all of our guests were happy, well fed and drunk, which is exactly what we wanted. The night ended just as it should have, with someone throwing up all over the floor at 4 am. I give a hearty thank you to my partners in Cheese? for putting together such a successful evening and to all of our friends who attended for partying.

Turkey #2

The second turkey I cooked was much smaller. My immediate family had our very first Thanksgiving with just the eight of us at home last week. My mom and I planned the menu together. My mom made mashed potatoes, green beans, butternut squash and apple pie.  I was responsible for the following:

– Turkey (using this Tom Colicchio recipe)
– Cranberry sauce (from Simply Recipes, also made this for Cheese?giving even though I really do like the kind that comes from a can)
– Stuffing (from Ina Garten, Jen made this for Cheese?giving)
– Pumpkin swirl brownies (using the Smitten Kitchen recipe, without cayenne pepper because my mom refused to buy it)

Despite nursing a modest hangover due to night-before-Thanksgiving festivities, I managed to make everything pretty tasty. (Props to Advil and coffee.)

Dinner time!

Once dinner time rolled around, I think we all had a pretty nice time hanging out together. Only like twenty poop jokes were made during dinner and my family even made a toast to me for doing much of the cooking. Then we – well, not really me – cleaned up which led to a Beyoncé dance party in the kitchen with all six Flannery kids.

Singing along to ‘Countdown’.

Very good times were had by all.

Aidan let us make a guest appearance in his daily Instagram selfie.

Friday Reads: Guy Fieri Blah Blah Blah

This week was weird. I don’t even remember it, really. I spent the entirety of Monday night in a state of sleepy wakefulness – or wakeful sleepiness – and since then I’ve felt like I’ve been living in a really boring dream in which things like Excel spreadsheets and laundry have featured prominently. (Incidentally, I was conscious of many of the dreams that I was having between 2:45 and 6 AM on Tuesday. All of them were insane and in two of them I was wearing my sleeping mask.)

Anyway. I’ve decided to start sharing the things I read during the week again. So here are some things I read that you can read if you didn’t already, even though I’m pretty sure that you read at least one of these things:

Pete Wells on Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar (New York Times): Duh. I mean, we all love this kind of stuff, right? (Also, responses to the criticism on Salon and The Awl.)

The Hazards of Growing Up Painlessly (New York Times): Because I love human interest stories.

What Was Your Weirdest Celebrity Sex Dream? (The Awl): Some of these are rather amusing.  Also, I’ll tell mine to anyone who asks.

Comedy Central’s 10 Comics to Watch (Splitsider): Uh, I didn’t read this because it’s a video but definitely do yourself a favor and skip ahead to Kate Berlant because she’s incredible.

– And I haven’t actually read this last thing but I plan on doing so today because Louise Erdich won the National Book Award this week for Round House. It’s her 2010 The Art of Fiction Interview with The Paris Review. (I actually have a copy of this issue in my room because I’m a terrible hoarder.)

Honestly, I don’t have any other worthwhile links to share. I haven’t even been able to keep up with my magazines these last few weeks. Why? Because I’ve been doing the following things:

– Reading and finishing Parisians by Graham Robb

– Watching every Louis C.K. comedy special

– Working at my job

– Trying to write what I think might be a novel but will probably just be something I forget about for a while and remember in a few years when I am deleting things from my hard drive to free up space on my computer

– Planning a large pre-Thanksgiving gathering for Saturday (more on that next week)

And on that note: Have a great weekend, everyone!

Six Elections (or I Was a Thirteen-Year-Old Republican)

Election results by county. Bill Clinton Georg...

Election results by county. 1992

Well, the election is really over now. I thought I would be relieved and relaxed but I’m still pretty fired up because, uh, everyone’s still talking about it. (In case you’re wondering what happened on Tuesday, Ta-Nahesi Coates laid it out pretty nicely on The Atlantic yesterday.) Of course, I’ve been reading a lot of stuff around the internet since Tuesday, including my Facebook feed, which has been equal parts inspiring, infuriating and annoying. Inspiring because some people were able to very eloquently write about their opinions and what this election meant to them. Infuriating because some people posted ignorant, bigoted, hurtful things seemingly without care or thought. Annoying because OMG the self-righteousness of people on Election Day! Gah! It is outrageously overwhelming and the worst.

Yesterday morning, I saw that my youngest brother – who is thirteen – has been posting and commenting about the election and its results. I’ve read through a few of the debates he’s been involved in with schoolmates and they’re…interesting, to say the least. (Eighth graders arguing over the difference between “socialism” and “communism” in the context of our American democratic election process, anyone?) Anyway, it reminded me that there was an election when I was thirteen. And that there were also elections when I was other ages. So here are some things I remember about those elections:

1992:I was 5, in kindergarten. My school had a fake election. We got to use a real polling booth with a curtain. Our teacher’s assistant came in with each of us and put  s on a chair so we could see how it worked. She helped me pull the lever to cast my vote. I voted for Bill Clinton because I knew my dad liked him.

1996: My school had another fake election. Same school. Again, I voted for Bill Clinton. I do remember who won the school election this time: Bob Dole. (Remember Bob Dole? He’s still alive!) Most of my friends voted for Bob Dole.

2000: Oh man, this was a big one for me. Though at thirteen I wasn’t old enough to have an official party affiliation, I was – for this one year – a Republican. It’s not like I loved George W. Bush or hated Al Gore. I was just really into being a part of the party of privilege, which seems very right to me now as I had never earned a cent in my life up to that point. I also was in my last year of Catholic school and we read a pro-life magazine in religion class each month so maybe that had something to do with it?

Whatever, I should stop self-analyzing and just admit that I was into being a Republican because I wanted to be Ainsley Hayes, the quirky blond Republican Associate White House Counsel who first appeared in Season 2 of The West Wing. I remember feeling so nervous for all of election night, watching the returns with my dad in our den. I’m not sure how much I cared about the actual outcome that night. I think I was just excited I stayed up until 1, when we realized that nothing was going to be sorted that night.

2004: Well, I have almost no recollection of Election Day 2004. I know that I was disappointed that John Kerry didn’t win. And that at 17, I wasn’t able to vote. And that my parents wouldn’t let me put a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker on our car. (I settled for a button pinned to sun visor on the driver’s side.)

2008: Another big one, for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who lived through it. It was my senior year in college. I felt similarly to the way I did earlier this week, like we had been talking about this election for my whole life. Also, even though I could vote this time around, I felt left out again because, in college, there is always someone who knows more about politics/is more engaged in politics/is one of those people who drives to faraway states to knock on doors for Obama. I was more into watching MSNBC while I babysat or ate late night onion pizza from Papa John’s and leaving it to that. I guess that makes sense as generally, I’m more of an observer than a doer.

On Election Day, I decided that I would forgo all of the big parties people — if they weren’t at Grant Park — were having in order to study for a German test. (Lame, since I was taking German I.) After about 30 minutes of studying vocabulary with the news on in the background, I started to fear that I was missing out on something and I ran over to my friend Jen’s house, where there was a big ol’ election party going on. I’m glad I did that because that party was one of the most joyful experiences I’ve ever had. (Helped that I consumed large numbers of Jell-O shots and spent much of the night “shotgunning beers for Obama”.) I took my German test the next day and it went fine. Actually, I got a 100.

2012: This year, I wasn’t nervous. I knew Obama was going to win. (Thanks, Nate Silver.) I had to go to my parents’ house to vote because I never changed my registration, so I spent election night there. Twelve years later, I found myself watching the results with my dad in our den. (A different den in a different house, but whatever.) We were also joined by my brother Aidan, the thirteen year-old I was talking about before. He was really excited to be watching the election results, probably for the first time ever. And I was happy to talk to him and answer all of his questions — especially because I got to Tweet his observations with the hashtag #aidanforprez.

When most of the networks, including Fox News, called the election for Obama around 11:15, I was happy…but had nowhere close to the same feelings as I did in 2008. Maybe because there were no Jell-O shots. (I was an adult and had red wine instead.) I won’t bother ineloquently describing my state of mind post-election because I think that Rachel Maddow has very nicely summed up the sentiments of many Americans this week:

So, here’s to moving onward and upward and forward – and hopefully not backward – to 2016.