Thursday, April 18, 2013

New (Wow!) Horizons

I understand naming stadia after the fan-attracting teams that play in them (for instance Giants Stadium in the northeast). I understand naming stadia after the companies that funded their construction (Staples Center, for instance). I do not yet understand what I saw in Louisville, Kentucky this week. Here is a photo of a stadium's name above a digital rolling advertisement screen positioned in view of both ticket-buying fans and Main Street Louisville:
The name is also stamped in story-tall letters facing the bridge across the Ohio River, on the opposite side of the building.

It's not Cardinal Stadium, though the name of that mascot figures prominently--that's the red C in the right of the photo. It's not simply the KFC Center. It appears to be the KFC (Yum!) [I don't even know how to represent it properly in text] Center.

I'm not quite sure what to do with the onomatopoetic ejaculation when verbally naming this facility. Is the (Yum!) there for purely visual appeal, so the uttered name is "KFC Center"? Or is the bubble pronounced, as in "KFC Yum! Center"? And if it's pronounced, does one indicate the exclamation point with inflection and pause ("We're going to the KFC Yum! . . . Center, kids!") or does one say the three words in one smooth phrase ("There's a long line at the KFC Yum Center today")?

I should have asked someone from Loouhvul while I had the chance. (Sigh!)

~ emrys

Monday, April 08, 2013

Enduring Value

Last week I finished my first reading of The Odyssey by Homer. Alas, I do not read classical Greek, so I had to settle for reading this ancient epic poem in translation. I chose Robert Fagles' work (1996).

The book had occupied my shelf for several years. I glanced at it occasionally, both drawn to its epic reputation and terrorized by its thickness. I vaguely recall that I had to read excerpts of the poem in high school English class. I feared that one third of the way through the Homeric opus I would feel the same as I had about so many other English assignments: that getting to the end would be a chore.

I was pleasantly surprised. To be clear, Fagles' translation is loose. He does not hold to the dactylic hexameter of Homer's work. He does not try to "translate" the poetry in conformity to modern convention with, say, rhyming lines. He does not attempt to bind his translation to a rubric which results in an overwrought product. Like Odysseus our hero, Fagles' work is clever, intriguing and manipulative, drawing the reader sympathetically into his own narrative.

The book was a page-turner for me. Though I often do my leisure reading late at night before sleep, I was always at pains to put this volume down. The character of Odysseus, the twists and turns of his fate, the vicissitudes and irrationality of the gods, and the tension of Penelope's resolve all held me rapt for the next reading. In short, all the reasons why Homer's work has survived the test of time rang true in my heart as I read it. The narrative so enthralled me that I felt cheated by the ending--as many do, I found out later--which seems much too abrupt given the scope of Odysseus' adventures and personality.

Not for its reputation, but for those enduring foundations on which the reputation is based--journey, hospitality, nobility of heart, fate, justice, perseverance, hope, and the destiny of coming home--get yourself a copy of Homer's Odyssey and read it. Again, if necessary.

~ emrys

Sticky Fingers

More than a year ago we received The Toddler Cookbook as a gift. It's a cookbook with simplified recipes that parents can do with their pre-schoolers. The directions for each recipe are written as if addressing someone who's not qualified to handle a kitchen torch (lots of "Ask an adult to . . ." and "Wash your hands" after every handling of raw meat). But the book also assumes that toddlers can use a cup to measure sugar and stir ingredients together (which, of course, they're quite able to do, even if a little more wobbly so at times).

Annabel Karmel is the author; she seems to specialize in parent/child books, as our two baby record books are both authored by her. One thing that I found impressive about this book was the representation of different people groups in the illustrating photos. Boys and girls, men and women, whites and blacks are making these recipes. As someone who lives in a solid white-bread band of country with old-school values, I appreciate opportunities, no matter how passive, for our children to observe that there are many folk who look different than we do. And I appreciate cookbooks that do not assume all cooking and baking will be done by those with double-X chromosomes.

Gwendolyn and my first adventure with Ms. Karmel was the recipe for "chicken dippers": fried chicken strips with different dipping sauces. Here are my daughter's fingers dousing the chicken before breading:

 We run a high-end kitchen in our home. We ask even the sous-chefs to come dressed in formal silk dresses and gold angel wings (though shoes are optional):
The meal was delightful. We finished off every bit of those chicken dippers:
 Gwendolyn and I had so much fun that for my birthday supper I requested we do another recipe from the book. In fact, we did two: chicken satay skewers, and peanut butter bears (no-bake cookies with rice puffs as the base, pictured here):
 I am discovering that the vast majority of recipes are in fact toddler/pre-schooler-friendly, with a little adult help. Karmel's book is little more than an illustrated cooking guide with fun fonts and encouragements. But I must admit that sometimes a book with a couple of gimmicks is necessary to open up new possibilities for me.

The Toddler Cookbook by Annabel Karmel (2008): a reminder of how wonderful it is to have multiple generations in the kitchen, and another reason to love DK books.

~ emrys