Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On the Road--Sedona

DSC_0002.JPG, originally uploaded by fredsworld.

The Coffee Pot Restaurant
2050 W Highway 89A
Sedona, AZ

When we were in Arizona two weeks ago, I was looking for a breakfast place where the locals go. When I read that The Coffee Pot offers 101 types of omelets and they leave a big pot of coffee on the table, my search was over. True, the parking lot is small and the line can snake out the door on weekends, but that's part of the experience.

Did I mention 101 omelets? With ham, with steak, with feta cheese, with spinach, with lox...Decisions, decisions. I had the classic with feta, spinach, and onion and home fries crisp and browned on the griddle. Rich was less happy with his tuna sandwich, but you really have to go for the omelets.

And the view of the Coffee Pot red rocks out the back is an added bonus.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In the Footsteps of the Ancients

Here are 2 of my favorite shots from our trip to Arizona earlier this month. Of course they can't truly convey the majesty of the Grand Canyon and Sedona, but they give you some idea of the enormity of these geologic marvels. That's me walking towards Cathedral Rock in Sedona--a place I definitely want to revisit for its beauty and spirituality. Energy from deep within the earth pulsates there in the rocks and on the trails. The ancients believed that these sites were holy and I agree. As you walk these lands, you can feel it. What humbling and awe-inspiring places.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Home Away From Home

coconut chicken soup, originally uploaded by mwhammer.

When we're on the road, we're always looking for a place to eat where we can get a warm welcome, the food is predictably good, the waitstaff is attentive, and the prices are reasonable. When we find it, we keep going back. Isn't this what we're all looking for on the road? A home away from home.

In Boston, we always return to Chilli Duck on Boylston Street, right across from the Prudential Center. I must have walked by this place a dozen times before I noticed the set of stairs leading down to a little shop below street level. But once I walked through the door and tried the food, I kept coming back.

People will quibble that the decor isn't inspiring, but I'm more interested in the food. The menu is divided into 2 sections--the front lists familiar Thai food like Pad Thai. The back section has more traditional Thai, like Mama's Tom Yom soup, a huge bowl of savory broth filled with your choice of chicken, shrimp, tofu, or pork and vegetables. Delicious. Other favorites include green curry with vegetables and coconut chicken soup. I always order their jasmine tea, which is especially soothing in cold weather.

Chilli Duck
829 Boylston Street
Boston, MA

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Writers Welcome A Literary President-Elect

Not all the news in the literary world is gloomy despite the massive layoffs at publishing giants like Time Warner and Doubleday, closures of such magazines as Slate and the financial upheaval at book distributors like Borders.

More and more often, I'm hearing pundits and writers likening this time period to the Depression and comparing the president-elect's challenges to FDR's. For me and many other writers this is good news. Why? As times get tough, people will need an escape. That's why Gone With the Wind sold over 1 million copies in the depths of Depression, gambling and drinking soared (and no doubt cigarette sales), and people filled the movie houses. That news consoles me and other people who make a living by writing. Another bit of hope is knowing that our president-elect, who established himself in literary circles well before he ran for president, will bring an appreciation of the literary and creative dimension of our culture and will hopefully encourage expansion of our cultural institutions and outlets. Like FDR, I hope he starts creative initiatives like the WPA projects which induced a creative outpouring in the arts.

To hear what other writers like Rick Moody and Toni Morrison think of the Obama election, cut and paste this link in your browser:

Monday, November 10, 2008

At the Movies

Bank robberies are the topic of these 2 movies which I highly recommend. The Bank Job (2008) is a true story of the 1971 London Baker Street bank heist, which netted over 3 million pounds and resulted in no arrests and no money being recovered. Why? Here’s where it gets interesting. The thieves, who plundered safety deposit boxes, inadvertently stumbled on documents and money that tied the Royal Family and highly ranked government officials to murder, corruption and sex scandals. The story couldn’t be told for over thirty years because of a government gagging order.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is a riveting story of two brothers who decide to rob a jewelry store--not an ordinary jewelry store, but one they know very, very well. (If I say more, I’ll spoil the surprise.) Themes of family loyalty and greed are at the heart of this story as the two brothers set in motion a startling chain of events. The cast is outstanding. Philip Seymour Hoffman is Andy Hanson, the older brother who cooks up the plan and convinces his younger brother Hank (Ethan Hawke) to carry it out. Other outstanding performances come from Marissa Tomei (one of my favorite actresses), who plays Gina, Andy's wife and Albert Finney who plays Andy's father. I’ll let you decide if the sex scene, which opens the movie is gratuitous or not. Produced by Sidney Lumet.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Barack Obama: A mosaic of people, originally uploaded by tsevis.

So how do I feel now that Barack Obama is our president-elect? In one word--hopeful.

As Obama said in his acceptance speech: "Hope -- hope is what led me here today. With a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas and a story that could only happen in the United States of America.

Hope is the bedrock of this nation. The belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be. We are choosing hope over fear."By Barack Obama.

This sentiment was echoed all over the world. The president-elect has a tough road ahead, no doubt. Some historians liken it to 1932, when FDR took office. As emails crisscross the globe, transmitting messages of hope, here's one from India. It's a Bollywood tribute to Obama, complete with great visual effects. To view it, cut and paste this link in your browser:


Monday, November 3, 2008

Gondeliers for Obama

As election days approaches, people all over the world are watching. Here's one charming and uplifting appeal from 2 Venetian gondeliers who sing about their choice for the next American president. (Thanks Gianfranco for sending it to me!)

Cut and paste this link in your browser:

Sunday, November 2, 2008


View from my bedroom window early yesterday morning.


Some people wake up hungry. I'm not one of them. I stumble through the first cup of coffee and grab a piece of chocolate (Lindt, of course) before heading out to the gym. I don't really wake up until I'm halfway through my workout. By the time I come back home, my stomach might start rumbling. On those mornings, I make oatmeal. Not the instant stuff, but good old fashioned Quaker oats, that need to be cooked on the stove for a good 10 to 15 minutes. The results are worth it and so is the taste. Besides, it's good for you. But for those of you who balk at anything remotely healthy, you can sprinkle a little brown sugar on it and add some dried cherries (or raisins), some nuts, and a little hot milk. It's truly a bowl of soothing warmth in the winter and it keeps your stomach satisfied for hours.

Here's my recipe:

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Heat the oats and water in a pot on high heat on the stove.
2. When the mixture boils, turn it down to low, add the salt and vanilla, stir, and cover it for 10-15 minutes.
3. Remove it from the heat when it's smooth and creamy. Add hot milk, dried nuts or fruit, and brown sugar if you wish. Enjoy!