Thursday, March 15, 2007

"THE FLY IS open; let's go Peay!" (Actually, Austin Peay only made it to the NIT this year.) But nevertheless, happy first day of March Madness.

John Feinstein says "Shame on the selection committee" for letting in Illinois, Purdue, and Arkansas and blames "the Darth Vadar of college basketball."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

DO YOU EVER listen to the music playing in stores while you shop? I hadn't really thought about it, but in the past few months I've heard songs while shopping that I've ended up looking up and buying on iTunes. And the great thing about is the internet is that you can go home and google a few scraps of lyrics and find the song without knowing the title or artist.

What are these musical gems you've found, you ask? Well, I was picking up socks in T.J. Maxx in December when I heard "My Only Wish (This Year)" by Britney Spears, a catchy jingle in the tradition of Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." In January, while browsing the post-Christmas bargains in Pier 1, I heard "Banana Man," by a group called Tally Hall. And finally, I was in the canned-goods aisle at Bruno's today when I heard an infectious bubblegum tune that Google informed me was "They Don't Know" by Tracey Ullman. (Who knew Tracey Ullman had a pop career?)

So there you have it, a glimpse into my sadly lowbrow musical taste, and $2.97 for Apple.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

WHAT DOES THE New York Times have against normal sleeping arrangements? First it reported last week on the supposedly pervasive phenomenon of kids in parents' beds (and parents in kids'). Today the paper informs us that married people increasingly are keeping separate bedrooms, with one survey predicting that 60 percent of custom-built homes will have "dual master bedrooms" by 2015.

Not everyone wants to talk about it. Many architects and designers say their clients believe there is still a stigma to sleeping separately. Some developers say it is a delicate issue and call the other bedroom a “flex suite” for when the in-laws visit or the children come home from college. Charles Brandt, an interior designer in St. Louis, said, “The builder knows, the architect knows, the cabinet maker knows, but it’s not something they like to advertise because right away people will think something is wrong” with the marriage.

This has the same odor as an article earlier this year that got the NYT in trouble, the one that breathlessly reported that over half of American women of marriageable age were living without a husband -- "marriageable age" commencing at 15, and the husbandless including women whose spouses were serving overseas in the military. It's eye-catching and gets the article on the most-emailed list, but it makes you wonder if the paper has something against traditional marriage -- you know, the kind where you sleep with your spouse and not your kids.

Anyway, at this rate we can look forward to the next article in the under-the-radar-sleeping-trends series: "Mom's Bed Or Dad's? Kids Torn Between Two Master Bedrooms."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

WORKING FROM HOME has upsides and downsides, and in the month of March one of the upsides is having basketball on in the, er, background. When I was in high school, back when the ACC was smaller and its tournament began on Friday, the AP government teacher would wheel a TV into the classroom at noon, and his lucky afternoon classes would get to watch what he called "the greatest day in sports." The KC has certainly enjoyed the ACC tournament a great deal over the past, say, eight years, but nothing beats the first two days of the Big Dance, when brackets begin to disintegrate immediately and CBS bounces around giddily from upset to upset.

Today, the first ACC game is in the books, with Florida State knocking off Clemson in the final seconds (follow ACC action online here). My team is having a bit of a down season, but it's a testament to how great this game is that that only makes it marginally less fun.

In honor of the approaching anniversary of Billy Packer's tragically un-prescient meltdown over George Mason making the NCAA tournament (George Mason went on to captivate the nation with its Cinderella run, upsetting two Final Four teams from the previous year and reaching the national semifinals): The ACC Basketblog compiles general dissing of Billy Packer, and I found an entire blog devoted to the pursuit.

BAKING PROJECT: I made some adorable little cakes for a baby shower last weekend, using the Bundt brownie cupcake pan. This pan makes cakes that are much smaller than the ubiquitous mini-Bundts. These are so tiny you can eat them in two bites.

The recipe I used was based on a recipe from Southern Living. You can find the original recipe at this site, but here is my modified version:

Lemon Poppy-Seed
Baby Bundt Cakes

1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Heat oven to 325°. With a paper towel, coat the inside of the pan with a small amount of oil. Beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the sour cream, beating at low speed just until blended, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla; then stir in lemon rind and poppy seeds.

Fill each cup halfway and bake for 20 minutes; then rotate the pan and bake about two more minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the cakes out onto a wire rack immediately (the pan releases the cakes beautifully). The recipe makes approximately five dozen mini-cakes.

For icing, combine approximately two and a half cups powdered sugar with the juice of two (or two and a half) lemons. Spread approximately 1 tablespoon icing on the top of each cake. You want the icing thick enough that it runs slowly down the side of the cakes without dripping off entirely.

Quote of the Day:
"I came here because of the basketball. The academic side is nice and it's extra, a $40,000 extra. But I'm here for the basketball."
~ Duke student Weston Ijames

Song of the Day:
James, "Sound"

Happy Birthday:
Kathy Ireland
Aidan Quinn
Lynn Redgrave