*Not his real name; I'm toying with the idea of calling every male student in this blog Steve. All girls will be...I haven't decided on that one.
I threw up on Matt Dillon's shoes.
That is what I would have written had Jeff not been One of the Heroes yesterday.
See, we were having a date night (trip to the mall where Jeff bought a black t-shirt and I got half a pretzel, trip to Best Buy where Jeff ogled laptops, then downtown for Italian sodas, sushi, a little unnecessary strolling, and finally Ebertfest in Champaign's gorgeous Virginia Theater). A few weeks ago Jeff had thoughtfully purchased tickets for us to see Nothing But the Truth, a political thriller that had Oscar written all over it in 2008, but money/distribution woes meant it did not see the light. But! Hometown hero Roger Ebert selected it for his film festival in little old Champaign, and director Rod Lurie and Matt Dillon would be there too. And Jeff and I were going to see it! How cool is that?
Well, it depends on how you define "cool." If by cool you mean a fun, awesome, once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, then yes, it was cool. But if by cool you mean less than let's say 70 degrees, then no, it was not cool. Not cool at all!
The Virginia Theater (pictured above) is one of those grand old movie houses that either die slow sad deaths or are lovingly restored before they die slow sad deaths, and happily the latter is the case here. The theater shows old movies and is a venue for other events and performances. It's one of my favorite places in Champaign-Urbana. Due to festival campers all over the floor level, we retreated to the nosebleed seats in the balcony, way up near the ceiling (see red dot). It was a great view, but we were crammed together very tightly, much worse than airplane seating. Clearly the people of 1921 had much shorter legs than we do now. My knees were rammed up against the seat in front of mine, and I'm not exactly what anyone would call leggy. Torso-y, yes. Leggy, no. It took a good half hour to get everyone settled, and then Ebert, Lurie, and Dillon came onstage and talked about the movie and each other for a little while. Audience: charmed. Then the movie began.
I was enjoying the film, which--refreshingly--featured compelling female lead characters played by Kate Beckinsale and Vera Farmiga. But the air was hot and thick in there, and hot air rises, so we were getting the worst of it. I slipped off my sandals, hoping my bare feet on the cool concrete floor would do the trick. It did not, but I still managed to follow the show. After about a half hour of feet-moving-around-trying-to-keep-cool, I looked for the exits and thought, If I became sick it would be pretty hard to get out of here. This was quickly followed by the nauseating "oh no I'm gonna have to get out of here" panicky feeling that my mom, a world-class fainter, has always described. I broke into a sweat and fanned myself with the festival program, but whatever minor relief the sweating provided was short-lived. I felt like I was going to faint, so I finally leaned over and whispered, "Jeff, I'm sick," and he sprang into action. We grabbed our stuff and the three people between us and the aisle very nicely got up so we could escape--thank you, three nice people--and I watched my bare feet pad their way down the long, shallow stairs. Concentrate on the stairs, concentrate on the stairs, I kept telling myself. Miraculously, I found my way out of the balcony and into the entrance to the women's restroom, dropping my purse along the way. I saw the cool-looking floor and sprawled out on it while Jeff fetched some damp paper towels. I felt better almost instantly--really, it must have been the hot, claustrophobic atmosphere--and within a few minutes I was able to stagger out of the theater with my dear husband. And that's when we saw Matt Dillon sitting on a picnic table approximately here:
A small entourage of people were nearby, but I'm pretty sure he noticed us leaving his Oscar-bait movie at the same time we noticed him. A brush with fame! But I was too weirded out by my near faint, and what could Jeff say? "Sorry man, your movie made my wife sick"? So we got out of there and walked back to the car. At the very least, I was happy that I (1) did not throw up in the theater, and (2) did not throw up on Matt Dillon or his shoes.
Although that would have made a better blog entry.
Our apple trees are blooming!
Spring, fed up with being pushed around by winter for far too long, is finally here and vengeance is in the air...the hot, blindingly bright, bird-filled, whipping-your-hair-until-it's-a-giant-frizz-afro air. Spring has heard our incessant whining--"high 42? what kind of crap is that?"--and is shoving apple blossoms in our faces:
Here! Take them! Maybe this'll shut you guys up!
Oh my. Believe me, I took LOTS of photos of our apple trees. Editing them down to a mere handful was a toughie, but I think these are the best.
I grew up with apple trees, and I'm overjoyed to have a mini-orchard of them now. I love the pinkness of the unopened blooms.
I wish you could smell these. So fresh, pretty, and ever-so-slightly sneezy.
Gorgeous. If I'm not careful, I'm going to end up with [gasp] A TAN! The horror!
* 2 skinless salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 5 ounces baby spinach
* 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
* 1/3 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (1.5 ounces)
* 1/8 cup pecans
* 1/8 cup Balsamic-Rosemary Vinaigrette
* 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
* 1 small garlic clove
* 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
* 2 tablespoons water
* 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt,
* 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
* 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an approximately 9-inch round baking dish. I used an 8x10" rectangular glass dish, a.k.a. the one I use for Mr. Crunchy. It has had no other use, until now.
In a medium/large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, chili powder, sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa (only 1/4 cup! important!) and salt. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and the remaining 1/4 cup cocoa, breaking up any lumps. Set this small bowl aside.
Beat the milk, vanilla and oil in a measuring cup with a whisk until well-blended. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir until a thick batter forms.
Spoon the batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle the cocoa-brown sugar mixture
over the top of the batter. Pour the boiling water over top of the pan
contents, then pour on the rum if using. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
If you have nothing else going on, sit in front of your oven and watch this thing bake. It's exciting to see the cakey part rise over the saucy part, and it will bring to mind the golden days of fourth grade when, awestruck, you learned about the earth's crust, mantle, and core.
The top of the finished dessert
should be bubbly and weird-looking; the bottom should be sludgy and
sauce-like. There's no getting around it: this cake ain't got no alibi--it's ugly, hey hey, it's ugly, wooo! Let it cool until it is not the temperature of molten lava. Then spoon the cake and its attendant sauce over a mound of vanilla ice cream/frozen yogurt. Jeff is mad for Edy's Slow Churned Yogurt Blends. Not only does this soothe the tongue once that obnoxious cayenne pepper explodes on it like so many tiny firecrackers (seriously, go easy on the cayenne), it disguises the horrifying ugliness of the cake to the point that no one will care. See how cute it is up at the top of this post? Eat it. It's fabulous.
I'd say this would serve 6. Or maybe more like 5.