The Wicked Sandwiches of the East -- Kottke waxes on about his all-time favorite sandwiches, and for some reason this put me in the mood to do the same. Maybe because Nat has a list? I don't want to be left out of this internets craze!

1. Roast turkey w/mayo, S&P on a Portuguese roll, Liberty Food Market, corner of Grier & Bayway, Elizabeth NJ -- The manna of childhood, special treat for class trips and family vacations, served on Saturday afternoons by my dad with potato chips (he ate them in the sandwich). Thinly sliced Boar's Head meat, black with pepper, rich with mayo, on a perfect chewy roll that broke apart as you ate it, the crisp outer crust showering you with crumbs.

2. Extra lean Pastrami on light rye w/pickles & mustard, Katz's Deli, East Houston St. NYC -- The original, the ultimate in deli goodness. Sit in the scuffed dining room, order an egg cream and some matzoh ball soup, and prepare to wallow in humble perfection: moist slabs of rosy meat, touched with a dab of mustard, barely contained by slices of light, chewy bread. Begin with a fork, then use both hands, and pick up the last succulent tidbits with a fingertip. L'chaim!

3. Chicken salad sub, London Market, corner of Sacramento & Divisadero, San Francisco CA -- I worked at an academic summer program down the street during my college summer breaks, and I was too broke to buy lunch more than once a week. On Fridays, I'd walk to this standard corner store, distinguished by a great candy and potato chip selection, something to do with its vaguely British theme. A generous scoop of chicken, celery, craisins, and dill, for $5 it was big enough to take half home for dinner.

4. Cream cheese and strawberry jelly on Home Pride Buttertop Wheat bread -- My lunchbox sandwich of choice circa 1982. Somehow it was more like eating a danish than a PB&J. Accompanied by a box of raisins, an apple, and a half-pint of chocolate milk.


Angel From Montgomery -- Rosa Parks has passed on at age 92. Is there another person you can think of whose one small, unpremeditated act created so much social change? What small thing can you do today to fight some injustice, large or small? Open your mouth, your schedule, or your wallet -- or learn how to keep America from sliding back into the segregated past.
"Blue Umbrella" -- A very appropriate poem for today, by Gail Mazur.
Pick the woman’s worst feature and then make it appear desirable. Tell an older woman that she looks young. Tell an ugly woman that she looks ‘fascinating.” -- There you have it, dating advice from the year 2 B.C.E. This article reviews 2 millenia of sex advice, some vague and silly, some ridiculously specific and involving dried snails. Oh, l'amour!
It's never too late for a little Theater Stub:

* Theater District -- On Thurday night, Miss Kim and I kicked off our third year of SpeakEasy subscriberhood with this short, sweet play about teen angst in an alterna-yuppie Manhattan family. Wesley, a perceptive 16year-old, splits his time between his divorced parents' households: weekdays with Dad and his partner, George, weekends with Mom and new hubby. He's ignored by his high-powered parents (a lawyer and a book editor) but respected and loved by their spouses (restauranteur and eye doctor), and he's muddling through it all when his best friend comes out at their prep school assembly. Much reflection ensues, along with flashbacks to the good old days for the adults (including the master of comic relief, Neil Casey). Creative staging, strong dialogue, and knockout performances by Bill Brochtrup as the wry, thoughtful George, and Edward Tournier as Wesley, who seems like a real live teenage boy, make the show shine despite its brevity. As the last lines note, a lot can happen in a day -- that's what days are for. (A-)

* The Kvetching Continues -- The Theater Offensive lives up to its mission once again! Back to the South End we go, on Saturday, for the one-woman comedy cabaret stylings of Jackie Hoffman, thankless starlette of Broadway's "Hairspray." Decked out in a gold cocktail dress, leaning against a baby grand, Hoffman lets loose a tirade of, well, kvetching, in word and song, on everything from bratty children to kissy-kissy couples to Jewish mothers to (shudder) Rosie O'Donnell. And of course, her "Three Minutes on Broadway" (this lead-off song in her ersatz lineup), which come after hours of trying to flush the slow backstage toilet. Scathing, biting, grating -- and hilarious. (B+)


Can't...break free...of...the cuteness! -- Hey, it's Friday, and doesn't everybody feel like this? Or alternatively, wouldn't you like a hug from this little dude (or his plush equivalent)? I could not resist Tai Shan, panda cub at the National Zoo, for today's ? du Jour.
"What makes the candy dish nutritionally dangerous might bring the fruit bowl back in vogue." -- Just in time for Halloween, the "candy psychologists" at Cornell have proof that the desktop candy jar is bad news for your diet. Better a desktop candy lead-lined oak chest. Or even the classic plastic pumpkin, perhaps?
Top 100 Toys of the 70's and 80's -- I have a feeling I've posted this before, or maybe I'm just excited to see some of my old favorites...Mastermind! Yes!
"Has American culture begun to mimic the chronic nostalgia of a certain strain of post-imperial Englishness?" -- That is a good question, and somehow I missed it in last Sunday's Globe Ideas section. Do we Yanks love Tolkien for his longing for a way of life slipping inexorably away, like the golden 50's or even the 80's, or just low gas prices? Hmmm.
"It's very streety, as streety as I can make it" -- and for Mr. Burt Bacharach, that's saying a lot. The man behind "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," which I listened to on a 45 back in the 70's, has a new album of topical songs, protesting the Iraq war, woah! It also involves Rufus Wainwright (OK), Elvis Costello (right), and Dr. Dre (buhh?).


"Wild salmon are the canaries in the coal mines of our own world." -- Just try to wrap your mind around this statement. OK, it's a mixed metaphor, and the president of the Atlantic Salmon Foundation is trying to say that salmon are the canaries of the sea...or something. But aren't "the coal mines of our own world," well, coal mines, with canaries in them, not salmon in cages? Whew. This paradoxical phrase appeared on the side of my coffee cup at the Arlington Starbucks last night, where I witnessed a wide array of troubling social phenomena:

1. The store was crowded with patrons, including a weekly knitting circle who were using all but 8 of the chairs and all but 4 of the tables in the store. The 8 remaining chairs were all occupied. This meant that everyone in line was going to have to stand around, or leave. The knitters (about 10 women of various ages and one son, around 10 years old, also knitting) were chatting and knitting away, and obviously NOT DRINKING COFFEE since their hands were occupied and they don't want to spill coffee on their yarn, now do they? They stay from 7pm until closing. The angelic barista actually went and brought out some extra chairs from the back for us.

2. While I was waiting in line, a woman approached and sort of cut in front of the guy ahead of me, trying to get the attention of the barista behind the counter. The barista was very busy pouring drinks while the only other employee worked the register. The woman piped, "Hi, um, I'm still waiting on a hot chocolate?" and the barista kindly replied, "OK, just a minute." Then the woman waits until the barista has turned around, finishing her drink order, and says, "Um, hi, do you have a microwave back there?" I see that the woman is carrying a plastic tray with what look like knishes inside, like from the supermarket deli. The barista very kindly takes the tray and heats up the food, which they DO NOT SELL at Starbucks, so the woman can feed it to her two little girls. In the Starbucks. The woman meanwhile cuts behind me in the line to reach OVER the cash register and grab a plastic fork: "Um, can I have a fork?" She was petite, with a bandana around her hair, a fleece and jeans. Her two daughters, maybe 9 and 6, were dressed in nearly identical pink tracksuits and raincoats, pulling those rolling school backpacks. They both refused to eat and the woman cut up the knishes and FED THEM to the younger girl, while chatting with her woman friend in an unidentifiable language, possibly Spanish but maybe Hebrew. Cultural differences, or just...WTF?

3. A 30-something guy in the line, slightly shifty, started dancing around to the Starbucks soundtrack music. He was standing there normally, then would suddenly rock out for a few bars, then stand still again. OK, whatever. Then while he's waiting for his coffee, he pulls out a pharmacy bag and begins poring over the many, many pill bottles inside, shaking them and swaying to the music.

4. Another knitter arrives to join the circle. This woman is visually impaired and uses a white cane. She slowly approaches the knitting group, coming up behind one of the queen bee knitters. As some of the other women start to greet the newcomer, Queen Bee turns around and says, "Oh hi, I didn't see you there!" Woman replies, without missing a beat, "Neither did I!"

5. A dapper geek comes in behind me: khakis, turtleneck, leather coat, hat, bald head w/goatee, glasses, laptop bag. He chats with the barista and mentions he won't be in much more, he is moving to North Carolina for work. "I'm gonna miss this place," he says. The barista jokes, "Well, I'm sure there are some Starbucks down there?" Very sincerely, he replies: "It just won't be the same."

6. Around 9:30, an anorectically skinny blonde enters, looking frazzled. She plonks down a huge book and laptop, plugs in, begins paging through the book and typing furiously. At 10:20, the barista comes around to let us know they are closing in 10 minutes. The woman sighs, "I'll have to go study at home." I see that the big book is "The Wine Bible."

Starbucks, I may have misjudged you. Sure, you peddle over-roasted cofee and overpriced doo-dads to aimless Americans in our alienated suburban community nodes. And yes, you charge a lot for your heavily branded WiFi access. Plus your baked goods are really quite poor. But you put up with a lot of shit, too. Carry on.


Yet more Ticket Stub action:

* In Her Shoes -- As I predicted, there's more to this c-flick than meets the eye. Yes, it's about two clashing sisters and their wrecked romances, but it's also about how families deal with mental illness, how women treat each other, and how people try to change. Oh, and illiteracy! OK, there are some gratuitously cute dogs, old people, and shoes for that matter, but Curtis Hanson once again is able to create realistic characters in a realistic setting, not a fake movie universe. It's the opposite of that Must Love Dogs train wreck from earlier this year: sweet, but brainy too. Extra points for Shirley Maclaine playing the grandma quietly and carefully, rather than over-the-top grande dame. (B+)

* Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit -- Hands down, the funniest movie of the year; sorry, Steve Carrell. Even more wonderful than the lovingly detailed clay universe is the story -- what a concept, a movie with an original story! By turns funny, spooky, goofy, cheeky, and clever, it should be nominated for Best Screenplay (hey, Finding Nemo did it first). I don't want to give away the plot, but it involves brain waves, bunnies, and big hunks of cheese. Highly recommended, and not just for kids! (A+)

Sweet knitted robots! -- Check out Jess Hutchinson's craft gallery, including this family of adorable robots made of yarn. I don't think my knitting skills are up to the challenge, but maybe I can hone them working on one of these...or a knitted Ford Prefect!
The Nyakaima Tree -- fascinating photo-essay from BBC News on a Ugandan woman who cares for ancestral spirits inside a sacred tree: "If someone said that places like this have no importance today, I would ask them how they came into this world? Then I would pray for them, so they may become enlightened." Sounds good to me.


It's the week of crankin' out the features around here -- enjoy the latest Ticket Stub:

* Good Night, and Good Luck -- Nat & I waded over to Harvard Square for pizza and leftist rhetoric with The Namesake & Sarah. George Clooney wisely makes his political points through a medium that suits him, film, unlike certain other celebs I can think of. This crisp B&W essay on Edward R. Murrow, pioneering frontman of the "liberal media," and his stand against Sen. McCarthy is chilling yet smooth, like a good historical martini. David Strathairn as Murrow manages to be wry, passionate, and professional all at once, while Clooney leads an all-star chorus of character actors to fill in the bare-bones sets. The movie is small in scope, with a curiously truncated ending, but it echoes broadly in a future far more corrupt than Murrow probably ever imagined possible. Extra points for the evocative stylings of Dianne Reeves! (A)
* Serenity -- Move over, Star Wars: the true successor to The Empire Strikes Back has arrived, in the form of a tiny, Sino-Anglo space bootlegger from the 26th century! Forget the ravening hordes of Buffy fans bleating about this movie, just go see it for the sheer enjoyment of a smart, original, and funny adventure flick -- they are few and far between these days. You can rent the Firefly DVDs later, once the brooding Captain Solo, uh, I mean Reynolds keeps popping into your mind. Sure, it's about a telepathic girl-child assassin, but don't hold that against it. Extra points for great computer effects smoothly mixed in with some hilariously cheap-o set design: I noticed a "hologram chamber" upholstered in plain old bubble wrap, nice! (A+)
* Proof -- Two word review: Gwyneth, Oscar. In a few more words, a strong adaptation of a big deal play that nearly always succeeds in being a movie, not a play, on screen. G.P. is compelling as the abrasive, nerdy, possibly crazy Katherine (do you see all the Oscar bait here?), dutifully caring for her totally crazy math genius father (Anthony Hopkins in full Hemingway mode) and fending off the realities of life, love (in the form of Jake Gyllenhaal, yow!), and her own talent. Gwyneth looks believably sad, lonely, and unwashed here -- what role could better deserve an acting award? Extra points for Hope Davis playing totally against type as the heartless, banal yuppie sister. (B)
* I'm going to see In Her Shoes tonight, and will update with a surely estrogenic and positive review next week. I (heart) Curtis Hanson.

Can you tell it's movie season -- I may attend 5 flicks this week! Why the hell does Hollywood still overload the fall instead of putting out something decent between August 1st and September 30th? It can't be that all the publicists are on vacation that whole time...can it? Grr.

* Not ticketed but still noteworthy -- I watch the CBS/Lifetime movie Martha Behind Bars and wow, does Cybil Shepherd need a gig! She was deliciously evil in NBC's 2003 Martha, Inc., filling the denim tunics and chinchilla wraps of The Big M with eerie aplomb. This lower-budget sequel is sort of like the cotton-polyester blend to the the 400-thread-count pima cotton of its predecessor. Cybil sports a sasquatchian blond wig half the time, giving the whole thing the air of a creepy summer camp skit version of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Even worse, the naughtiest thing that happens at the women's prison is sugar packet hoarding (no double entendre there). Martha makes her bunk with perfect hospital corners, Martha folds origami cranes with her cellmates for Christmas, Martha scrubs the shower stalls. All as dull as the grey sweatshirts the prisoners wear -- bring back the beeyotch Martha from the first half, the one who shouts "This is not the proper knife! Where is my favorite serrated carving knife?!!" It was also disappointing that the movie didn't touch on what real-life Martha managed to at her post-prison press conference: that most of her fellow inmates were serving long mandatory sentences on drug charges stemming from their dealer boyfriends/husbands' activities, while she had supportive family and friends visiting her, eventually whisking her away in a private jet to house arrest on her sprawling Westchester estate. Now that's hard time. (C-)

It's the 14th of Octover -- heh. A year from today, I'll be married (!) and attending my little brother's wedding (!!) and hopefully sneaking out to watch snippets of a Red Sox playoff game (!!!) that same night. We can always hope...


It's been too long since we had some quality TAI Roadside Sightings. Thus:

1. At the Mobil station alongside I-95 in Lexington, each pump is adorned with a colorful placard celebrating the contributions of Latinas in America. That's cool, but WTF? At the bottom it says, "Mobil Celebrates Hispanic Heritage." Hmmm...

2. The teenaged girl who checked my ticket at the AMC Burlington cinema on Sunday was named, according to her nametag, Britni. I guess that's better than "Britnie," right?

3. Some quality bumperstickers spotted lately: "We Support Figure Skating In Medford!"; "I'd Rather Be Driving My Antique Car"; and on the refrigerator of a certain car-free, lefty couple in Jamaica Plain, a big red-white-n-blue ribbon emblazoned "I Support More Troops Than You."
Thank goodness somebody is keeping tabs on the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court -- we can count on Mr. Sun to dig some real dirt. He tracks her dreadful reading habits, enshrines her in epic poetry, and evaluates her midichlorian count, just for kicks.
Woman goes into labor with premature triplets in a train station, and is at first ignored because she "appears homeless" -- that pretty much says it all about our so-called society these days, doesn't it? On the upside, a high school teacher came along and took of his shirt to help! A similar story took place on the T here in Boston last year -- I wonder how that mom (and her two older children) made out?


The Oprah of Afghanistan -- in a more secular world, I suppose that would be Oprah herself. In the meantime, Farzana Samimi tries to give voice to some of the most oppressed women in the world.
Q: Are you still a conservative?
Q: Still a conservative?
THE PRESIDENT: Am I still a conservative? Proudly so. Proudly so.

Just one of the many rhetorical gems on display at Bush's press conference this morning, his first in 5 months -- not like anything much has happened since May, I guess. Here's my other favorite: "It's not acceptable for any member of my administration to break the law. And I presume free gifts from lobbyists break the law." Good guess, Chief.
"Fizzy Fruit is fun to eat!" -- Carbonated fruit, people. I expect to see it at the Stop & Shop any day now, right next to the display of these. Is there anything technology can't do? Hmmm...