Articles by " Adam"
1 Nov
2014

Kards Unlimited Calendar of Events: November

thanksgiving-dinner-21

Novem­ber might be the best mon­th of the entire year.  The weath­er is final­ly juu­u­u­u­ust the right mix of pleas­ant­ly brisk but still bright and hap­py, apple-derived and -fla­vored things abound, and, of course, Novem­ber has the year’s best hol­i­day, Thanks­giv­ing!  (Sor­ry, Christ­mas.)  There’s plen­ty of oth­er great times in Novem­ber, though!  Click READ MORE to find out what’s going on!

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30 Oct
2014

They write the books, you read the books, everybody’s happy!

Novem­ber 1st is Nation­al Authors’ Day!  An author is to book lovers what a great chef is to gour­mands, what an oasis is to dehy­drat­ed desert trav­el­ers, and what a favorite ted­dy bear is to chil­dren.  Amer­i­can writ­ers, from Hawthorne to McCarthy, from Poe to Hem­ing­way, have iso­lat­ed, dis­tilled, described, and defined Amer­i­ca, what it is to live here, and what it is that makes Amer­i­cans who we are.

It’s pret­ty much impos­si­ble for me to pick a favorite Amer­i­can writer, so I’m going to give you my top 5!

grrm

5.  George R. R. Mar­t­in! — Not nec­es­sar­i­ly part of what you’d call clas­sic Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture, but my fan­ta­sy obses­sion runs too deep for me to men­tion favorite Amer­i­can writ­ers and not include him.  If you love the TV series (i.e., if you have a pulse), give the series that the show is based on, A Song of Ice and Fire, a try!  They’re pret­ty great!

edna

4.  Edna St. Vin­cent Mil­lay! — Since she’s not a nov­el­ist, she’s again some­one you might not think of as a clas­sic Amer­i­can author, but Mil­lay is my mother’s favorite poet and she is there­fore a big part of my lit­er­ary his­to­ry.  Her work is deeply affect­ing; a true emo­tion­al roller coast­er.  If you’re not famil­iar with Millay’s poet­ry, read The Bal­lad of the Harp-Weaver.  It will make you cry, though, so just be advised.

mary

3.  Mary Robison! — Her post­mod­ern nov­el Why Did I Ever is prob­a­bly my favorite book that I ever read for a class.  Report­ed­ly writ­ten over the course of sev­er­al years with each sep­a­rate snippet/section/vignette on a sep­a­rate index card, the book is hilar­i­ous and touch­ing and the eas­i­est read of any great book ever.  Get on it.

kurt

2.  Kurt Von­negut, Jr! — To any per­son who reads Eng­lish, this man needs no intro­duc­tion.  Cat’s Cradle is one of the best books ever.  That is all.

donna

1.  Don­na Tartt! — Full dis­clo­sure, I have not found time to read The Goldfinch yet.  I am, how­ev­er, com­plete­ly in love with The Secret His­to­ry.  For a per­son whose oth­er favorite books are LotR and Pride and Prej­u­dice and The Count of Mon­te Cristo, I nev­er real­ly knew that I could find a (rel­a­tive­ly) con­tem­po­rary, non-his­tor­i­cal, non-fan­tas­tic piece of lit­er­a­ture that I would love as much as I love those oth­er books.  But I found it in The Secret His­to­ry.  That book rules.

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27 Oct
2014

You want ‘em, we got ‘em! Halloween hats for all!

Every­one knows that the per­fect hat is inte­gral to any good cos­tume.  Hats make win­ners or losers.  The hat is the king of Hal­loween.  With that in mind, a few cus­tomers helped us employ­ees show you some of the best ones. Enjoy!

It's a fez.  Dylan wears a fez now.  Fezzes are cool.

It’s a fez. Dylan wears a fez now. Fezzes are cool.

Our friend David preferred the pirate king look.  It suits him.

Our friend David pre­ferred the pirate king look. It suits him.

Everyone, meet Keira the confused robot!  (She wasn't sure how she could look robotic, but I think she nailed it.)

Every­one, meet Keira the con­fused robot! (She wasn’t sure how she could look robot­ic, but I think she nailed it.)

Lorax-Athena reminds you to be kind to the environment.  She speaks for the trees and you do not want to hear that disappointed tone.

Lorax-Athena reminds you to be kind to the envi­ron­ment. She speaks for the trees and you do not want to hear that dis­ap­point­ed tone.

This is JP's attempt at a stern Prof. McGonagall face.  (It pretty much is just her normal face, you guys.)

This is JP’s attempt at a stern Prof. McG­o­na­gall face. (It pret­ty much is just her nor­mal face, you guys.)

Viking-Yogi will pillage your heart with his cuteness.

Viking-Yogi will pil­lage your heart with his cute­ness.

And I am ready to stalk some deer.  And/or dangerous criminal masterminds.  #MuntjacsOrMoriarty

And I am ready to stalk some deer. And/or dan­ger­ous crim­i­nal mas­ter­minds. #Munt­jac­sOr­Mo­ri­ar­ty

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9 Oct
2014

Happy 1,832,668th Birthday to Count von Count!

the-count_3

He’s the hap­pi­est, friend­liest vam­pire ever.

I think I’ve delin­eat­ed my feel­ings about children’s tele­vi­sion pret­ty clear­ly on this blog.  The short ver­sion is that I am in love with PBS and all it delight­ful­ly edu­ca­tion­al and adorable pro­gram­ming.  And one of the pow­er­hous­es in both adora­bil­i­ty and edu­ca­tion­al­i­ty is Sesame Street.  Seri­ous­ly, is there a bet­ter way to teach chil­dren to count than with a pur­ple vam­pire-type guy with a sweet East­ern Euro­pean accent?  I sub­mit that there is not.

Plus he has pet bats named Grisha, Misha, Sasha, and Tattiana. Yes.

Plus he has pet bats named Grisha, Misha, Sasha, and Tat­tiana. Yes.

 

That’s why today, Octo­ber 9th, is so impor­tant!  It’s the birth­day of Count von Count!  Aka The Count!  Ah ah ah!  The Count was always one of my favorite char­ac­ters on Sesame Street as a kid.  For one thing, he had a cape, which obvi­ous­ly enhanced his awe­some­ness.  Plus, he had a sweet accent!  What’s not to love?

 

 

 

I still love all those things about the Count, plus I also love that all his songs have this great Roma vibe that is total­ly rock­in’.  Basi­cal­ly the Count is a guy to cel­e­brate.  So make sure you keep care­ful count of your cel­e­bra­to­ry drinks in his hon­or tonight!  (Thir­teen!  Thir­teen shots!  Ah ah ah!)

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29 Sep
2014

Notes from Our September Book Club Meeting!

gifskirt

We had a real­ly great dis­cus­sion about Aimee Bender’s “The Girl in the Flam­ma­ble Skirt.”  Even though the book left many of us feel­ing con­fused and slight­ly let down, there was a lot to love in Bender’s writ­ing style and the book def­i­nite­ly made us ask a ton of ques­tions about gen­der roles, the ways dif­fer­ent peo­ple deal with dif­fi­cult emo­tions, and what the heck was going on with the guy who lost his lips.

It was real­ly cool to add such a staunch­ly post-mod­ern short sto­ry col­lec­tion to our Club’s reper­toire, and I for one will cer­tain­ly be pur­su­ing a few more Ben­der books in the future, if for no oth­er rea­son than to find out if she’s always so frick­in’ weird.  Some of the sto­ries almost every­one liked were Marzi­pan, about a fam­i­ly deal­ing with the deaths of loved ones in very strange ways, The Heal­er, a tale of two mutant girls who grow up in a small town, and The Ring, about a wom­an, her lover/fiance/thief, and their quest for real­ly great presents.

We decid­ed unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly quick­ly that our next book will be Mar­garet Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which is one that at least a few of us have been mean­ing to read for a long time.  Its dystopi­an world will hope­ful­ly sate October’s appetite for the macabre and weird, and it’s def­i­nite­ly a clas­sic, so we’ll be expect­ing a big turnout and a spirit­ed dis­cus­sion!

handtale

One last point of order: the love­ly KU couch will be tak­ing its win­ter vaca­tion start­ing today, so our next meet­ing will be held on Octo­ber 19th at 6 p.m. at the Shadyside Cof­fee Tree Roast­ers (right next door to KU!) and we’ll be send­ing out our usu­al email reminder with par­tic­u­lars closer to that date!  Hope to see all our favorite book club­bers (that’s all of you!) then and there! <3!

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17 Sep
2014

The Best Week of the Year is Back!

hobbit

Oh, Mar­t­in Free­man. You are so Hob­bit-y.

That’s right, friends, Sep­tem­ber 21–27 is Tolkien Week!  (It’s also the best because it’s Banned Books Week, but Jes­si will get to that lat­er.)  There are plen­ty of amaz­ing writ­ers in the world.  And some day in the future I would love to start Neil Gaiman Week or Robin McKin­ley Week or some­thing.  But one of the only ones (if not the only one) who has his own week of cel­e­bra­tion is J.R.R. Tolkien.  And it is well deserved.

Man, books used to look so awesome.

Man, books used to look so awe­some.

I’ve talked plen­ty on this blog about what makes Tolkien such an impor­tant author and I don’t want to bore you, so here’s the Spar­kNotes ver­sion:

  • Though the fan­ta­sy gen­re has exist­ed pret­ty much since the dawn of fic­tion (espe­cial­ly if you con­sid­er ancient epics like The Epic of Gil­gamesh and Beowulf to be fan­ta­sy), Tolkien’s works of the ear­ly to mid 20th cen­tu­ry gave mete­oric rise to the genre’s pop­u­lar­i­ty and inar­guably made pos­si­ble the pub­li­ca­tion of lit­er­al­ly all pop­u­lar fan­ta­sy works since.  Seri­ous­ly, there is not a sin­gle writer in fan­ta­sy today who doesn’t owe a huge debt to Tolkien.
  • Tolkien’s works not only defined a gen­re, but they also exem­pli­fy one of the most dif­fi­cult and impor­tant aspects of fic­tion: world cre­ation.  The com­plete­ness of Mid­dle-earth and its inhab­i­tants, down to such details as his­to­ries that have no direct bear­ing on the plots of the major nov­els, so speci­fic that Tolkien’s lan­guages are equipped with all the trap­pings of lin­guis­tic mat­u­ra­tion includ­ing ety­molo­gies and even dead lan­guages.
  • Tolkien’s works and he him­self were large­ly con­cerned with mythol­o­gy.  Because of this, his work is not not mere­ly telling a sto­ry for its own sake, but rec­og­niz­ing and cel­e­brat­ing a story’s sig­nif­i­cance to the peo­ple who told it.
  • This list could lit­er­al­ly be infinite, so I’m going to leave it at that for now.

This Tolkien Week, we’ll be hav­ing our usu­al Tolkien Quiz con­test!  Come in and take the quiz!  The high­est scor­er will win a fab­u­lous Tolkien-relat­ed prize and every­one who takes the quiz will be entered in a raf­fle for a $20.00 KU Gift Cer­tifi­cate!  So even if you know noth­ing about Tolkien, you could still win big!

TolkienWeek-TakeTheQuiz

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8 Sep
2014

To boldly go where no man has gone before…

enterprise

Hap­py anniver­sary to one of the most pop­u­lar and influ­en­tial sci-fi icons of all time!  On Sep­tem­ber 8th, 1966, the orig­i­nal Star Trek series pre­miered on NBC.  Though its ini­tial low rat­ings caused it to be can­celed after only three sea­sons (on June 3, 1969), Star Trek’s endur­ing cult pop­u­lar­i­ty even­tu­al­ly led to syn­di­ca­tion and a ton of spin-off mate­ri­al includ­ing books, games, five addi­tion­al TV series and 12 fea­ture films.

the boys

Star Trek’s endur­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty can late­ly be attrib­ut­ed to the awe­some spe­cial effects, ster­ling act­ing, and excel­lent writ­ing that have graced the two most recent Star Trek films.  Those things were not real­ly a part of the orig­i­nal series, but it gar­nered and main­tained pop­u­lar­i­ty nonethe­less.  Which brings us to Star Trek’s sin­gle great­est attrib­ute: it was sci­ence fic­tion that actu­al­ly was about sci­ence.  Sure, the orig­i­nal series may have been laugh­ably over­act­ed.  Sure it was incred­i­bly corny.  Yes, it lit­er­al­ly used the same set every week to por­tray var­i­ous alien plan­ets.  But none of that mat­ters, because Star Trek’s great sav­ing grace was that it was real­ly all about humanity’s insa­tiable curios­i­ty.  Star Trek taught us that even in three hun­dred years when human­i­ty is trav­el­ing through space with no more incon­ve­nience than what we fly with now, there will still be things to dis­cov­er.  There will still be chal­lenges to over­come.  In short, there will still be a search for mean­ing.  Gene Rod­den­ber­ry was a freak­in’ genius.

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2 Sep
2014

September is National Honey Month! An Appreciation of Baklava

 

Look at all that delicious honey comb.

Look at all that deli­cious hon­ey comb.

Hon­ey is one of the old­est sweet­en­ers known to man.  There is evi­dence of humans gath­er­ing hon­ey to eat as far in the past as 8,000 years ago (as com­pared to com­mon table sug­ar, which, at the ear­li­est, may have been dis­cov­ered and used around 800 B.C.)  Sug­ar only began to rival hon­ey as a sweet­en­ing agent after the Cru­sades, and it remained a lux­u­ry item until the 19th cen­tu­ry when it final­ly com­plet­ed its trans­for­ma­tion to basic human neces­si­ty.  So hon­ey has been a pret­ty big deal for most of human his­to­ry.

Mmmmm, baklava.

Mmm­mm, baklava.

And baklava is pret­ty much the best thing you can make with hon­ey.  (Although hon­ey is also great in a vari­ety of bev­er­ages like tea and lemon­ade!)  If you’ve nev­er had baklava, let me break it down for you.  Baklava is a pas­try from the for­mer Ottoman Empire (though vari­a­tions exist in many of the sur­round­ing cul­tures and most peo­ple think baklava orig­i­nat­ed in Greece!) and it is made by lay­er­ing filo, chopped nuts, but­ter, and a syrup made with hon­ey.  And it is damned delec­table.

Ahh!  Beeeeeeeeeees!  Bees are awesome, actually.

Ahh! Beeeeeeeeeees! Bees are awe­some, actu­al­ly.

But Nation­al Hon­ey Mon­th isn’t all about the amaz­ing treats one can make with hon­ey.  Any dis­cus­sion of hon­ey must include bees, which a) are total­ly cool, and b) are in decline.  Which sucks, both because the cause of the bees’ decline remains unknown and because the loss of hon­ey­bee pop­u­la­tions would have severe­ly adverse effects on agri­cul­ture.  (And the amount of hon­ey that might be avail­able for use in baklava and oth­er recipes in the future.)

So make sure you get you some hon­ey this mon­th and make deli­cious treats with it.  And appre­ci­ate the bees!  They may not be around forever!

And!  As an added bonus, here’s the baklava recipe that I use!  I gen­er­al­ly use pecans or wal­nuts for my baklava, though pis­ta­chios are tra­di­tion­al and I read some­thing recent­ly about using hazel­nuts, so I’m prob­a­bly def­i­nite­ly going to try that some time soon. Enjoy!

1 (16 ounce) pack­age phyl­lo dough
1 pound chopped nuts
1 cup but­ter
1 tea­spoon ground cin­na­mon
1 cup water
1 cup white sug­ar
1 tea­spoon vanil­la extract
1/2 cup hon­ey

Direc­tions
1. Pre­heat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). But­ter the bot­toms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
2. Chop nuts and toss with cin­na­mon. Set aside. Unroll phyl­lo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cov­er phyl­lo with a damp­ened cloth to keep from dry­ing out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, but­ter thor­ough­ly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets lay­ered. Sprin­kle 2 — 3 table­spoons of nut mix­ture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, but­ter, nuts, lay­er­ing as you go. The top lay­er should be about 6 — 8 sheets deep.
3. Using a sharp knife cut into dia­mond or square shapes all the way to the bot­tom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diag­o­nal cuts. Bake for about 50 min­utes until baklava is gold­en and crisp.
4. Make sauce while baklava is bak­ing. Boil sug­ar and water until sug­ar is melt­ed. Add vanil­la and hon­ey. Sim­mer for about 20 min­utes.
5. Remove baklava from oven and imme­di­ate­ly spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cup­cake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncov­ered as it gets sog­gy if it is wrapped up.

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