Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Be my guest . . .

I'm going to level with you friends and readers. Posts on NTB have been sparse of late and the situation is not going to improve in the very near future. The good news is that the light at the end of the tunnel that is my dissertation is starting to burn very bright! My readers' copies are due in a few weeks, and my dissertation defense is scheduled for November 21st. Once the readers' copies are out, I look forward to posting more regularly, exercising, cooking meals for my family, cleaning my house, dealing with the clutter, and just breathing more easily in general.

In the meantime, I don't want you to stop visiting Not to brag . . . Instead, I would like to invite you (yes, you!) to consider contributing a guest post. If you already have a blog, a guest post at NTB would be an opportunity to draw attention and drive traffic to your blog (after all, NTB has hundreds of readers or, at least, a hundred readers). If you are thinking of starting a blog, posting on NTB would be a good way to get your feet wet. Even if you have no desire to blog, I guarantee the experience of having your words "out there" in the world will feel really awesome, especially when people read and comment upon them.

You may be thinking, "But I don't have anything to write about?" Please. You've read my posts. Poop in the bathtub. Trips to Trader Joe's. Soup. Everyday stuff is great. Share an anecdote about your kid/s. Tell us about what your family likes to eat for dinner. Share a recipe or two. Brag on yourself. Give one of NTB's regular features a try by writing your own Book Beat or Retail Beat column. Though this column is not as regular as I intended it to be, consider a Field Trip post. I also welcome posts about television: What are you watching this fall? Any insights on reality television shows? Is the new 90210 worth watching? What snacks do you eat while watching The Biggest Loser? The only real guideline is that the post not be mean-spirited or political.

If you think you're interested, please let me know in a comment or by email (mep at nottobrag dot net). You can send the post in an attachment, and I will even proofread it for you.

Pretty please. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Speaking of ballroom . . .

It's early into tonight's episode of DWTS (new readers, that's Dancing with the Stars), and I just wanted to share a few thoughts about the new season based on last night's premiere.

The comedian Jeffrey Ross is not a smooth dancer, but I hope he stays around. He had the single funniest line ever uttered on an episode of DWTS. I've watched every season and loved almost every corny moment of it so I should know. After hearing the judges' comments, which included, not surprisingly, a reference to ballroom dancing, Ross quipped: "Speaking of ballroom, these pants are really tight." My husband and I cracked up.

Cloris Leachman is a hoot. The confusion. The comedy. The cleavage. The cussing. Of course, I was primed to enjoy her presence on the show based on some television viewing I did yesterday afternoon. With the rare opportunity to nurse Little Bit while watching the programming of my choice (i.e., NOT Caillou), I was disappointed to find the DVR cupboard bare and thus made do with some red carpet coverage of Sunday's Emmy Awards on the TV Guide Channel. DWTS alums Lisa Rinna and Joey Fatone interviewed Leachman, who had no idea that they were former contestants. She was a bit foggy throughout the interview, then suddenly reveals that at rehearsal in the ballroom for blocking purposes, she peed her pants. She went on to give more details. Lisa Rinna, bless her heart, stayed very professional and suggested perhaps a "pair of Depends." I have a soft spot for people who admit to peeing their pants. Most people who know me know how I personally delight in confessing about how I peed my own pants in the only 5K race I ever ran. It happened in 1998, and I'm still talking about it.

Okay, back to DWTS. Julianne is as cute as ever. Warren Sapp is adorable on the dance floor. Brooke Burke had a baby six months ago -- holy shit! The song selections seem to be improving. Samantha Harris's interviewing skills do not. I like the new girl partnered with Lance Bass. I finally know what people have been talking about with Kim Kardashian's booty and find myself liking her more than I anticipated (unlike LAP, I do not watch Keeping up with the Kardashians, NTB). Tom Bergeron continues to be the ultimate host -- quick, witty, lovable. The scores seemed a bit low, but by last night's standards, Susan Lucci and her teeny, tiny legs did not deserve three 6's.

Okay, now I have to turn my attention to tonight's episode. Any thoughts on the new season? Please comment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Book Beat: Does this book make my butt look fat?

I've been planning to post a big old book beat that covers a lot of the reading I've done this summer (and it's more than you might imagine for a mother of a newborn, NTB, but mostly because of my audiobook addiction and my ability to read while nursing). I don't think I'm up for the task so I will just give you this post, inspired by my viewing of Biggest Loser Families and composed in my head during the two plus hours it just took to get Little Bit to settle down for a good night's sleep.

Loyal readers know that I love to eat, shop for, talk about, and think about food. I also like to read about food. So, here they are . . . MEP's recent reads that involve eating or (not) eating:

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg
I love Elizabeth Berg and believe we could be friends were we ever to meet (and we could meet, as she does live in Chicago or maybe Oak Park). Her books are comfortable and pleasurable events for me. Many of the short stories in this collection feature women on and off diets. A couple of the stories make explicit references to Weight Watchers, which I enjoyed as I have counted points from time to time (though never attended meetings). Here are two passages from two different stories that I enjoyed:

Here's one:
“All the way to Panera, Laura has told herself not to get the bread as a side, get the apple. But when she gets there, she goes right ahead and gets the bread.”

I love this one because I tell myself the same thing before I go to Panera. Get the soup and salad pick two, but don't eat the bread. Don't eat the bread. But then I always get the bread, spread butter on the bread, and eat the bread. And, because Panera serves Pepsi products, I wash it all down with a Dr. Pepper.

Here's another:
“Skinny people look at fat people with disgust and have visions of them stretched out on fuchsia-colored silk sofas snarfing down Cool Ranch Doritos and Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, but it isn’t like that.”

I just love any literary reference to "Cool Ranch Doritos."

Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir by Jennette Fulda
I am somewhat addicted to weight loss stories and found this one to be especially thoughtful as well as humorous. Fulda's weight loss is inspiring but her commentary on society and obesity is really insightful and not exactly what I expected to read (in a good way). Also, great title. Plus, Fulda's memoir started as a blog, which is pretty cool.

Through Thick and Thin by Alison Pace
This is a novel about two sisters and their efforts to work through some issues, lose some weight, and restore their relationship. I really enjoyed this novel, a breezy read but not one that lacks substance. I especially appreciated Pace's pop culture references, which I found right on and totally delightful. For example, one of Pace's main characters names her dog DB Sweeney after the lead actor in The Cutting Edge. I love that movie and love that she included that detail. Also, this novel makes me want to get a dog and try yoga. Wow.

Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody
Diablo Cody is famous now for writing the screenplay for Juno and for her Entertainment Weekly column. Candy Girl is her memoir of a year spent working as a stripper--for the challenge, for the personal satisfaction, as a social experiment, likely for writing fodder, and also for cash. I learned more about stripping and the sex industry than I ever knew I wanted to know and some things I'd prefer not to know. Cody is witty and has an eye for detail. I returned the book to the library before I could copy down one of my favorite passages, but basically it involved her description of gyrating in front of a man wearing a manwich-stained flannel shirt. See, manwich. Another book about food.

Okay, that's all for now. I need to be rested for when Little Bit needs to eat next.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I knew we were soul mates, Eric Ripert.

A free, luxury-living magazine now comes with the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal. This magazine is called WSJ. I flipped through it quickly, poised to toss it, but then noticed a page featuring Eric Ripert. Ripert is the chef of Manhattan's Le Bernadin. (No, I have not eaten there.) More relevant to my experience and interests, Ripert is an honored guest judge on my beloved Top Chef. Ripert is handsome. His French accent is soft and melodious. Unlike some other guest judges, he seems like a kind individual instead of an egomaniac. I don't know all that much about him, but I like what I do know.

The piece in WSJ features Eric Ripert sharing "his olfactory inspirations''--his thoughts on the smells and more of all kinds of items--from olive oil to windshield soap to raw tobacco. Two of the olfactory inspirations have convinced me that Ripert and I would truly understand one another.

Ripert notes the scent of basil as one that brings him back to his childhood on the French Riviera. He can even smell the different between American basil and basil from the Antibes. The scent of basil does not bring me back to my childhood in Fairfield, Ohio, and I admit I cannot distinguish various regional nuances of basil. I do love the smell and taste of basil as was, for a good portion of my pregnancy with Little Bit, obsessed with that particular herb.

Even more monumental than Ripert's mention of basil is his eloquence with regard to my all-time favorite beverage:

"I drink four Diet Cokes a day. It's rounder, fuller and richer than Diet Pepsi. I even like the smell of it. Diet Pepsi is a more citrusy flavor but it has a slight metallic taste. Regular Coke has too much sugar; I would go crazy."

Talk about true and beautiful words. To his words I would only add, "I even like the way I feel when I glimpse a chilled can of Diet Coke in my fridge." A talented chef with access to the world's finest ingredients who chooses to drink four Diet Cokes a day is a man I would love to meet. And, as we have so much in common, perhaps he'd be honored to meet me as well. NTB.
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