I moved to Chicago in 2002, but it was only yesterday that I tried paczki for the first time. For anyone not living a city completely obsessed, these are basically Polish doughnut-and-jam sandwiches that are a Fat Tuesday specialty in any self-respecting Chicagoland bakery. (You pronounce them “pooch-ki,” which I love.) If I’d ventured out a little earlier I could have enjoyed them in plum and rose flavors from my local paczki-providing establishment, but the raspberry one I scarfed yesterday afternoon was definitely up to par, and I’ve still got an apricot and a cherry-and-cheese to sample.
With the promise of spring marginally closer than it has been, I’m starting to get covetous. The photo above is from a recent trip to the Fluevog store in Wicker Park; along with Doc Martens, these are my favorite shoes, and dammit if there isn’t a sale and a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket. (Naturally the most sublime, comfortable, unique pair is also the most expensive in that selection, but — I don’t know, I love a good splurge every few years. And those colors! I really need those colors in my life. We’ll see if I’ll have somewhere to wear them soon.)
I’m pretty flush with links, at least. Who wants ’em? Delicious budget recipes, Jurassic Park viruses, comics as a perfect vector for the art of translation, Lupita Nyong’o’s Academy Award, perfume, ladybeards and Prohibition but with spells instead of spirits:
Last night I tried my first recipe from Budget Bytes, a website that’s been recommended to me many times but which I only just discovered really lives up to its promise: good eats at transparently low prices. Blogger Beth M. walks you through hundreds of delicious recipes that she assembles for less than you paid for lunch at Panera. My verdict on the stroganoff: quite good, though I think I’d have helped myself with some greens on the side. Note to self for the leftovers: roasted brussels sprouts, the best edible sprouts of all.
What gets me to cook, more often than not, is convincing myself that the steps are not as monumental as they become in my head. It gets even better when cooking becomes play. The Atlantic has an article about how this can apply to math, and not in the way you might think: 5-Year-Olds Can Learn Calculus. This is a topic close to my heart for a personal reason. In elementary school, my mother saw that my classmates and I were not getting a math education that was up to par. She managed to get several of my friends and I to spend our Saturday mornings for several years at the Athens Public Library, learning math with an exceptional teacher named Mike Shirey. He made complex concepts both manageable and fun, and I was so pleased to be able to share this with him on Facebook last night. Thanks for a lot of good Saturdays, Mike — not to mention an unfailing belief that what we wanted could be done.
On that note, Hack Education might be of interest to you: writer Audrey Watters looks into all the ways we can disrupt and possibly fix the educational models that are failing American children.
If you’re sick of “hack” as a verb that’s lost its connection to axes and machetes, you might enjoy groaning through the Washington Post’s 150 journalism cliches — and counting. If you’d rather just focus on the latest viral craze (which I definitely did for a Purim play when I was 10), check out Ladybeards at The Daily Mail. But if you’re really into hacking, you can enjoy Dennis Nedry’s Jurassic Park-crashing program from the comfort of your own machine. (It won’t crash your computer. But maybe give it pause if you keep raptors in your basement.)
Unless you counted my mom’s Silver Age issues of Little Lulu and Donald Duck, I didn’t start reading American comic books until middle school, when I became intoxicated with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Instead, I grew up loving Asterix and Obelix, the two intrepid Gauls who regularly traveled and upended the Roman Empire (and sometimes beyond). I didn’t know for ages that it was translated from French, and part of that, I think, is because the translations are so successful. ‘Talent borrows, genius steals’: Asterix, translation and the evolution of language explores that to great effect, and earned praise from my linguist dad, so there’s that too.
Sometimes confronting privilege brings about hope for change: if society valued the voices of mentally ill inmates, surely it wouldn’t have taken Colorado’s new executive director of its Department of Corrections to rail against the cruel and unusual nature of policy surrounding solitary confinement. Some privilege, however — like herd immunity privilege, if you want to call it that — just entrenches people further, as is shown by a new study proving, to my great distress, that anti-vaccination proponents won’t change their minds, no matter how empirical data is presented.
Many discussions of privilege center around race. I wasn’t watching the Oscars this weekend, though I followed on Twitter and Tumblr, but I was thrilled at Lupita Nyong’o’s win for her work in 12 Years a Slave. Stacia Brown has written about the award: When a (Comparatively) Carefree Blackgirl Wins An Oscar. It’s an important reminder of context and of how, perhaps, to watch what I hope will be Nyong’o’s dazzling career. (Related: I, Too, Am Harvard, a photography project speaking out against the casual, institutional racism black students have had to put up with on one of the most privileged college campuses in the world.)
There’s no good segue for this link, but I feel it’s an important post: Author Libba Bray has written Miles and Miles of No-Man’s Land, an honest and unflinching account of what it means to live with depression, and what it means to try and fight it. If this is something that you or a loved one needs, I hope it helps you too.
If you’re looking for something beautiful in your life, try Ikenaga Yasunari: The Japanese Art of Nihonga Redefined. These portraits of women will entrance and dazzle you. Anything that gives me “I want the stories behind these faces!” feelings is worth your while, I think. Or, if you’re looking for new stories that will soon exist in the world, check out ’20s noir Prohibition-is-about-magic comic Small Town Witch, currently in stretch goal territory at Kickstarter, with plans to ship out in May. If your dream is to someday publish one of those stories, writer Chuck Sambuchino answers some practical questions about query letters, like how to broach whether a book could turn into a series.
A number of my friends seem to have gotten deeply involved in perfume fandom, which baffles, intrigues and delights me. I’m still trying to get a makeup routine down, much less a smell palette, but if you want to beef up your perfume vocabulary, Perfume Shrine has your back.
Finally, I want to highlight an excellent lady of my acquaintance. Stephanie Goldfarb runs Seven Species Supper Club and Catering, which, in addition to just being beautiful food, also supports The Chicago Women’s Health Center, one of the city’s most valuable health care organizations serving women and trans* people. If you’re in a position to give her business, you should! If not, take up a seat next to me, where we’ll gaze longingly together at her posted recipes. Ohmygoodnessgosh.
Which reminds me. Time to make those two paczki one less. Happy Wednesday, folks, and Northern Hemisphere, chin up — based on past evidence, it’s not actually going to be winter forever. We’re going to be okay.