Archive for November, 2009

Buy Nothing Day

November 28, 2009

Hope everyone had a fabulous, glutinous Turkey Day. I ate too much and will be revisiting my dietary habits over the next few days and weeks – after Ma’s birthday tomorrow and two more on Sunday.

Today I am celebrating Buy Nothing Day. It has a lighthearted side – as you can order “nothing” and get a free instruction manual for $5 and T-shirts that say nothing for $20. But don’t order them on BND.

This is my favorite BND site, though the woman looks rather more like she’s running from H1N1 or complying with the dress code in one of the more restrictive Muslim countries.

Despite the lighter side, Adbusters, which sponsors BND, turned serious last year with a look at the underlying causes for the economic crisis. One of the co-founders said the causes of were not the big Wall Streeters and bank craziness. Rather, “It’s our culture of excess and meaningless consumption — the glorified spending and borrowing of the past decade that’s at the root of the crisis we now find ourselves in.” The borrowing seems to be dying down because people have lost their jobs, but based on pictures of lines waiting outside the stores, the consumption goes on. Folks are just looking for more serious bargains.

In honor of the day I am skipping Sushi Friday. Celebrating BND will also counterbalance my sister-in-law who was planning to be at JC Penny at 4 a.m.! That’s just cruel and unusual but better than Toys R Us at midnight where police from three towns had to quell the herd.

So here’s what I’m doing instead of shopping: catching up on accumulated magazines, newspapers, and online journals; sorting through the piles of clippings and other items I’ve collected for this blog; making another round of coulibiac because there was way more filling for the reduced-size phyllo that’s been around in recent years; writing a couple of letters; exercising;  listening to the Ig Nobel awards. My favorite bit is the way they curtail boring speeches. A little girl whines, “Please stop. I’m bored” over and over until the person stops. The awards deserve recognition because they get actual Nobel laureates to attend. The highlight of this year’s awards was the bra that converts to a double gas mask, one for the bra wearer and one for a lucky invitee.

Well, I finished the workout and am proud? ashamed? to admit that I remembered all but one of the verses to “American Pie,” that interminable, kitschy, overblown paean to Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Richie Valens. It’s boring and self-conscious but the beat is perfect for a workout.

Also finished making the coulibiac. Note for next year: It is a far, far better thing to defrost the phyllo overnight in the fridge than to leave it on the counter for two hours. (Sorry, Charlie).

Celebration of BND was no problem since the weather continues to be rainy, windy, and raw. Plus, Larry took my car.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

November 26, 2009

Right about now – 8:45 p.m. on Thanksgiving eve, I lose my appetite after making three mince pies (I caught a break with the other three), shelling shrimp, and making the filling for my vegetarian dish. We met friends for dinner and drinks tonight during which I managed to eat a salad and half a sandwich. But in the spirit of the all-u-can eat feast tomorrow, here’s the recipe for my main course. Mother and I started making this recipe when it was first published in the NYTimes in 1974. We tried the entire menu, which included Brussels sprouts, homemade crackers, beet soup and pumpkin flan, but only the main course survived. The tab feature doesn’t work so well on this blog, so check notes at the end.

VEGETARIAN COULIBIAC

WITH SOUR CREAM SAUCE

serves 8 to 10

4 tablespoons butter                         1 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 pound mushrooms, chopped       2 large ribs celery, finely chopped

2 1/2 cups cooked soybeans           1 cup raw cashews, chopped

3 cups cooked brown rice                1/3 cup snipped fresh dill weed

1/4 cup chopped parsley                 3 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground          2 eggs, lightly beaten

black pepper                                        3/4 pound phyllo pastry

1/2 pound sweet butter, melted    fine, unflavored dry bread crumbs

Sauce

1/4 cup butter                                    1 cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons flour                             2 cups sour cream at room temp.

vegetable broth or milk                   1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill weed

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. For the coulibiac, melt butter in a large heavy skillet, add onion, and cook until tender but not browned. Add mushrooms and celery and cook, stirring frequently, over high heat until liquid has evaporated.

2. Stir in soybeans, brown rice, cashews, dill, parsley, salt, pepper and eggs. Mix well and check seasoning.

3. Place phyllo on a damp towel and cover with a second damp towel. Take one sheet of the pastry and place on a third damp towel. Cover remaining dough as you work. Brush the sheet with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Place a second sheet on top of the first, cover with butter and bread crumbs. Repeat layering until you have 10 to 12 sheets.

4. Pile half the soy bean mixture along one of the long sides of the phyllo about 3 inches from the edge and leaving about an inch on the short sides. Using the towel underneath, roll the filling in the pastry to make a strudel-like roll, tucking in the sides.

5. Roll the coulibiac onto an ungreased baking sheet, preferably one with an edge. Cover with a damp towel as you repeat the procedure with 10 to 12 more sheets of the pastry and the remaining filling.

6. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes or until the rolls are crisp and well browned. Let stand for five minutes before cutting into thick slices.

7. While the rolls are baking, make the sauce by melting butter and cooking the onion very slowly until it is golden brown and tender. This will take 20 minutes.

8. Sprinkle with flour. Add sour cream and bring to a boil while stirring. Thin the mixture with broth or milk until it is the consistency of a sauce. Add dill, salt, and pepper and serve over the coulibiac.

Notes

One cup of dry soy beans equals 2 1/2 to 3 cups cooked. Soak beans over night in water to cover. Rinse and cook in salted water to cover plus 1/4 cup oil for 20 minutes in a pressure cooker or without oil in a covered saucepan for 2 to 3 hours until tender. You can reserve some of the cooking water to thin the sauce. (My experience: if you boil water in a pressure cooker and add rinsed beans, you can omit the soaking and the oil.) Also, the brown rice should be the long grain variety that takes about 50 minutes to cook.

To cut the fat content, I use a combination of olive oil and canola oil to sauté the vegetables and save the butter for the sauce and layering the pastry. I also  substitute lowfat yogurt for the sour cream. I use about half the amount of salt in the main part of the recipe. One year I omitted all salt and it didn’t seem to affect the flavor.

I substitute wheat germ for the bread crumbs.

I often prepare filling the day before. The mixture sits overnight in the refrigerator. It also works to make mix up everything several days ahead and freeze it. On Turkey Day, I heat the filling on the stove before I put it in the phyllo. It smells just like turkey when it’s baking.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Dressing? Stuffing? Oysters? Sausage? White Castle?

November 25, 2009

Spent a good part of the morning getting rid of the markups and track changes in a Word document. I did not invite them, and it was beyond annoyance to evict them.

This entry is not one of the food, food, food items I had in mind yesterday in yesterday’s blog, but the issue surfaces every year, so I thought it would be worth exploring. As Turkey Day nears, I’m again pondering dressing vs. stuffing, and the varied contents of said accompaniments.

The consensus seems to be that geography determines the terminology. North of the Mason-Dixon line, it is generally stuffing, and it includes bread, celery, and onion with a heavy dose of herbs. It is always cooked inside the turkey, food scares notwithstanding. South of the M-D line, it is called dressing and often contains cornbread or oysters or other exotica local to the area.

One person on Chow Hound said in Amish country it was called “filling,” which I vaguely remember from visits to the food counters operated by the Plain People at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.

These descriptions of stuffing and dressing are gross generalizations of course. Several Hounders had a great theory: It’s stuffing if it goes inside the bird, dressing if it doesn’t, even if the ingredients are identical. I wish the other folks had indicated where they were writing from, or at least the origins of their families when they voted for one or the other.

A history of the terms suggests that it was all called stuffing until the Victorians decided the word wasn’t delicate enough for their sensibilities, so the term “dressing” came into vogue.

All this theory is fine, but the contents are what’s important. I don’t know what our family did in the early years, but by the time I became aware of Thanksgiving cooking, my mom always started with Pepperidge Farm stuffing (not dressing) and then added ridiculous amounts of butter, in which she sautéed onions and celery, added some sage, thyme and whatever. I think she used chicken broth to moisten it, but usually the stick (or more) of butter took care of any dryness. As noted, the stuffing always went inside the bird, though whatever didn’t fit in the bird went in the oven when the turkey was almost done. Even though we lived an area that should have used oysters, we avoided them. When I was a kid, there was a serious ban on shellfishing because the Sound was so polluted. I am happy to report that Connecticut blue-points are back, but I still haven’t tasted a turkey stuffing with oysters.

Daddy said when he was growing up in New Iberia, Louisiana, his family ate turkey for Thanksgiving. I don’t remember that he ever declared in the stuffing/dressing issue. He did say they always had goose for Christmas with an oyster-cornbread stuffing. I’m going to have to try that sometime, even if I don’t eat the goose.

Of course regional variations abound. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that California recipes might include wild mushrooms and chestnuts, or even artichokes (yum!) in a base of sourdough bread (double yum). Southern recipes might substitute rice for cornbread, with ham or tasso and maybe chicken livers. (That’s getting awfully close to Dirty Rice, which would probably make a good stuffing.)

Other possibilities include the addition of apples and dried fruit, which seems to be duplicating the contents of mince pie. And the Spiced Apple-Sausage Stuffing with Cranberries and Brandy horns in on the mince pie and the cranberry sauce. On the other hand, Lemon Barley Stuffing with Shiitakes, Hazelnuts and Chive Butter sounds fabulous if a bit light on the flavorings to stand up to the turkey.

The weirdness increases with a recipe that calls for 18 White Castle hamburgers, and one from Epicurious that includes red mustard greens and currant and another called Aloo Gobhi Stuffing with potatoes, cauliflower and curry powder. This last one seems a bit of a disconnect since the recipe is clearly from India – shouldn’t those folks be celebrating their liberation from the Brits and not the Brits’ conquest of the Native Americans in the New World? In that same list the recipe with crawfish and collard greens (called “stuffing” I note) sounds fabulous – I’d skip the bacon. Ditto with the artichoke and Parm cheese, minus the sausage.

I’ll provide my recipe for vegetarian (not vegan) Thanksgiving tomorrow, after the onions and mushrooms have sautéed, the rice has steamed  and the soybeans have pressure-cooked.

Upcoming

November 24, 2009

I have been trying for more than an hour to file this post without being tangled in all sorts of weird editing marks. Also can’t post on Facebook. So here’s the summary of the summary. My housecleaning efforts over the weekend included moving a huge pile of clippings from the table by my reading chair to my study. This morning I sorted through the pile and started to figure out what to do with the various pieces of paper, large and small.

Since the next few days will be filled with shopping, cooking, delivering pies, and more of the same, here’s a brief summary of blog entries to come, in no particular order.

How much anxiety is good for one?

Food, food, food – including my stab at tapas, “Julie & Julia,” reviews of the first shipment from the USA Today wine club

Monty Python

Google Settlement update (this one may wait till after January

the magazine Granta

Anna Deavere Smith

Claude Levi-Strauss (if I can make a little sense of what this man was up to)

 

 

My housecleaning efforts over the weekend included moving a huge pile of clippings from the table by my reading chair to my study.

Pandora Radio

November 21, 2009

What a great find! Pandora Radio allows anyone to create her own radio stations based on the type of music she likes. I started last night with Miles Davis Radio. As I mentioned at the end yesterday’s entry, the first song up was “Freddy Freeloader,” totally appropriate because the service is free. Pandora supports itself with display ads. Netflix interrupts occasionally with a few seconds of audio, but it’s not intrusive. A premium Pandora ($36 a year) eliminates the ads. It may be my Christmas present to myself.

So after the intro number, Miles Davis Radio played ’Tranes’ “Too Young To Go Steady,” followed by Cannonball’s “Autumn Leaves,” the predictable “Take Five,” followed by one of my favorite jazzmen of all time, Freddy Hubbard, playing “Birdlike.” I was expecting something by Charlie Parker next.

All terrific, but I was disappointed because there was nothing new here. In fact it was stuff that I’ve heard over and over. The site promises “discovery,” i.e., new artists or songs based on selections one chooses. Maybe as I listen I’ll get something besides the ubiquitous standards. The folks at Pandora Radio have a complicated method for figuring out what listeners like based on algorithms and analysis by musicians and musicologists, but it seems the jazz repertoire is pretty limited at this point.

On the plus side, I can do quick reviews by clicking little boxes that say, “I liked this song,” or, “I didn’t like this song.” When I got tired of the walk down memory lane and said I didn’t like Duke Ellington’s “Rain Check,” a little box popped up that said, “We will never play that song on this station again.” Wow! That’s power! Wonder if I can change my mind later?

In prep for the morning’s work, I set up Antonin Dvorák Radio and happily listened all day to Dvorák, some Brahms, Saint Saëns. The only thing I axed was Beethoven’s Fifth just because I am so-o-o tired of it. Here I did discover that Fauré speaks to me in a way that I never recognized before.

For my third station, as I wanted to relax last evening, I set up Alicia Keys radio. This one gave me Rhinna, Janet Jackson, Boyz II Men, and Mariah Carey, to whom I said no thanks.   Otherwise, the music was good, and I did hear new stuff.

The site also has internal links to help one manage the music with bios of the composers and bookmarks for favorite songs. A pullout window lists the genres – alternative, classical, electronic, holiday (oh, dear, not yet), new age (I’ll pass unless I’m doing Reiki), R&B, blues, country (no thanks), folk, jazz, oldies, reggae, Christian, dance (great for workouts), hip hop (ditto if one doesn’t listen to the lyrics), Latin, pop, and rock.  For the electronically overloaded, there is a video option and ways to hook to mobile media.

Larry laughed at my new toy, but it sure made the work day easier since I didn’t have to switch among classical stations every time some screechy soprano began wailing.

This and That

November 20, 2009

It’s been another day of constant interruptions, so here are few short items.

The Manchester Journal Inquirer has sued the Hartford Courant charging plagiarism over the Courant’s use copyrighted JI stories. (See “Aggregation, Plagiarism, or Theft?” September 2) The Courant apologized, and that was just what the JI’s lawyers needed. I predict the Courant’s publisher will be in some deep doo-doo  once the higher ups at Tribune finish bailing out of the bankruptcy. You go, Chris!

Thanksgiving weekend is shaping up to be very, very busy. Besides the usual Turkey Day festivities (including the baking of the mince pies), my mother-in-law will turn 85 on Saturday. The next day, a young friend of ours will turn 21. Not long ago she said, “Just park me on a bar stool and keep feeding me shots!” Her father turned a whiter shade of pale. That same day a waitress at the local diner/watering hole is turning 90. Yes, she still works there, and they’re throwing a party for her. Something else is going on but whatever it is has escaped me.

I think I finally learned why Georgia leads the nation in bank failures by a huge number. My cousin and I have been mulling (love that word!) this question for some time. She works as a bank examiner in Colorado and gets a memo from the FDIC every Friday after they’ve seized a bank. She said if there are three banks on the list, one is invariably from Georgia. We speculated that it was because of speculation from the housing boom around Atlanta. We were right on that score, according to Business Week. But there was more. The Peach State starred in brokered deposits. Those banks must have offered some great rates. Wish I’d known!

Now off to create my stations on Pandora Radio. The first song I got was “Freddy Freeloader.” Full report to follow.

Bible Blogger

November 19, 2009

This entry will be another quick hit. I know they are becoming more frequent, but between standing in line at the post office, walking to get the flu shot, and waiting for the computer to update its various parts, my day has been a bit fragmented.

Came across Frank Lockwood, the Bible Belt Blogger today. Love that his most recent claim to fame is giving the NYTimes’s Jill Abramson a new experience by taking her to a Pentecostal church in Argentina that featured snake handling and an exorcism in which he, the blogger, became a participant.

The blog in the Arkansas Democrat & Gazette covers the landscape with just the right balance of respect and irreverence. His emphasis, as might be guessed from the fact that he writes for a paper in the heart of the Bible Belt, is on the Christian God, though he does stray. He had a recent entry on the Libyan dictator trying to convert 100 aspiring Italian models to Islam. Mr. Lockwood thought The Onion made that one up. I thought the colonel was reverting to crazy mode.

The Onion had to be the source, though, for the first of two back-to-back entries on Judaism. It was a maybe bogus report about nose-picking on the Sabbath. The other, on outlawing Shabbat elevators in Jerusalem seemed far more plausible. And there’s a quasi-Buddhist entry about the furor over the selection of a “Christian-Buddhist” bishop to an Episcopal diocese.

My favorites so far: the Boston Globe article that I found through his blog indicating a belief in hell is good for developing economies. Belief doesn’t seem to matter in places like the US.

Also good, “Satan causes cavities and weight gain, too.” That one of course was filed two days before Halloween and came from the Christian Broadcasting Network. I had heard that one before, but it’s nice to have another laugh.

Shots or Not?

November 18, 2009

It’s been an up and down sort of thing – flu shots that is. Until last year I had received only one shot. Despite what everyone said it was the one winter that I felt semi-ill from about two weeks after I received the shot until the end of February. Of course it could have been the bad air at the newspaper where I worked just grew worse. I found it depressing to walk in every day and smell the solvents they used to clean the presses wafting through the ventilation system. Someone did a test and found out that only ten percent of the air came in from outside. I started to write “fresh,” but we’re talking Hartford, Connecticut, here, just a few feet from Interstate 84, which could be a parking lot at almost any time of the day. Fresh was a relative term. That 90 percent recycled air was full of solvents. God knows what else just kept bouncing around the duct work. I got the message every Monday morning when I’d find my computer screen covered with a delicate black film, compliments of every Saturday-night/Sunday-morning’s extra heavy press run.

After I received that shot, the nurse made me sit around for 10 minutes to make sure I didn’t go into anaphylactic shock even though I assured her I had been eating eggs in a great many forms all my life without any problems.

That was my last flu shot until last winter. I had begun doing Reiki at the hospital, which offered the seasonal flu vaccine gratis. I accepted the offer, partly to protect myself, but mostly to keep from infecting the patients. The last thing they need is flu on top of whatever else ails them. I got the shot and had no problems, most likely because I’m no longer breathing the solvent-laden air at the Courant.

This year when all the stuff started about the H1N1 vaccine I went back and forth. No, I wouldn’t get it because I’m in the “protected” age group with no “underlying health problems.” Yes, I would to keep from infecting the hospital patients. The whole argument became moot, of course, once everyone ran out of the vaccine.

My decision was reinforced when I received a letter from the hospital saying sorry, no vaccine, for H1N1 or seasonal flu. There was none for the staff, and none for the volunteers. We were all urged to get shots from our health providers. Of course that wasn’t going to work, either. I didn’t know anyone in the area who was offering shots to the public. The local supermarket had a big sign saying that all flu-shot clinics had been canceled until further notice.

Larry and I decided we’d get the seasonal flu shots when the time came, if we could find any. He’s mostly at risk because he pats the dogs he trains, then their owners pat the critters. He usually picks up one good bug a winter from places where there are little germ factories who bring the beasties home from school and keep recycling them around the house, including onto the pets. Once we decided to go ahead with the shot, we figured it would be February before the vaccine arrived.

Then today the hospital sent another letter, this time saying that more H1N1 vaccine had arrived and that I could get a shot tomorrow or Thursday because I “come in direct contact with ill patients.” No requirement but a strong suggestion.

I can take the hint, so I’m off tomorrow for shot No. 1. I’m betting that the same thing will happen with the seasonal flu vaccine, so I’ll probably be double flu-proof in a couple of weeks.

Behind the Curtains

November 17, 2009

The anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall got me thinking about curtains, not the sort one hangs in the windows to keep out prying eyes, but the metaphorical ones. Of course the Wall was the physical manifestation of the Iron Curtain, which seems to have also been the first metaphorical curtain. A brief tour.

The Iron Curtain references began, not after WWII as I had thought, but during the nineteenth century. Dispute exists as to the first uses, but the original iron curtain was a metal wall that separated the house from the stage after disastrous fires in Europe. Iron safety curtains apparently became mandatory in late nineteenth-century Austria and Germany.

The term became a metaphor in 1920 when Ethel Snowden applied it to Russia in Through Bolshevik Russia.

Before it became widely used people called the Soviet Union and its satellites the “asbestos curtain.” Everyone at that point believed asbestos had “benevolent qualities.” Now we know better, but cancer-causing toxic mineral might not have been a bad way to describe Ol’ Joe Stalin and his henchmen.

Winston Churchill popularized  the term in a 1946 speech. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe.”

The term fell into disuse after people carted away pieces of the Wall and the Velvet Revolution initiated the liberation of the countries flapping in the Soviet Union’s orbit. The usage may be coming back in a different form. I’ll leave it to the pundits to decide how different today’s Russia is from its Soviet parent. The economics have changed, and Russia is flying solo these days. But the repression seems to have returned.

Iron Curtain has another iteration. Should the Chinese “fire-wall” be called Iron Curtain 2.0? This author thinks so. because of its totalitarian implications.

A corollary to the Iron Curtain was the Bamboo Curtain. It arose when Mao’s Revolutionary Army took over and created People’s Republic of China.  Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma and North Korea joined later. Again, I’ll leave it to the pundits to decide whether the thing actually exists any more since we’re on such good terms with China and all but the last two countries have opened their borders.

The variation that I find the most fascinating, for its lack of historical reference and general lack of usage, is Cotton Curtain. I’m putting it in caps just because the other two have been written that way since Churchill’s time. But it differs from the others in a great many ways. First it sounds so much more benign. An iron curtain would be impenetrable under any circumstance. Anyone who has tried to dig up bamboo, or tried to hack through it, knows that it’s flexible but oh, so impenetrable. But cotton? It’s soft and delicate. It can be brushed aside. Even when it’s still on the plant, it’s puffy and ethereal looking. The only problem is that it defined a vast barrier that millions of black folks couldn’t cross.

It took far more digging to find out the definition, the origin, and so forth. Double Tongued.Org defines the cotton curtain (lower case) as “a political, social, and cultural divide, especially concerning race, between the American South and the rest of the country.” It gives the first reference as a Time article in 1946, which compared the head of the security police in Poland denying people the franchise with a man who was urging white people in Mississippi to “take care of” any blacks who tried to vote. That definition and history would make the Mason-Dixon line the northern boundary, but I’m not sure the Cotton Curtain should have the same rigid boundary that defined the Communist-bloc countries. That’s another topic open to debate.

I first encountered the term in Mother’s journal when she was writing about meeting William Dawson, the black conductor, composer and arranger, in 1963. She wrote: “I think in the last analysis I admired Dawson wholeheartedly – because he obviously must have had an absolute thirst for knowledge, that he taught himself the things he wanted to know, that he must have been persistent, that in the face of what he called ‘the cotton curtain’ he broke through it.”

Not long before Mother met Professor Dawson, Ebony published an article called “Behind the Cotton Curtain.” The article makes clear that the cotton curtain referred most specifically to the divide that separated slaves on the South’s plantations from everyone else, even their counterparts in cities – and their northern brethren.

I’m hoping someone will update the Ebony article and do a more comprehensive study of its meaning and history.

Quick final note: There are far more sites selling bamboo and cotton curtains than there are discussions of their history but not a one selling an iron curtain that I could find.

A Little – Very Little – Bit of Comedy

November 14, 2009

It’s Friday (the 13th). We’re having the tag end of a hurricane that snuck in two days before the official end of the season. I guess the next one will just be a nor’easter. The research I’ve been doing for the past two weeks just blew up in my face. And it was dark enough at 3:30 to turn on the lights.

So here’s a little (very little) humor based on the classic “Who’s on First?” Here’s the 21st century version. It’s a little dated but still funny and also depressing.

If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today “Who’s on first?” might have turned out something like this:

COSTELLO CALLS TO BUY A COMPUTER FROM ABBOTT

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I’m setting up an office in my den and I’m thinking about buying a computer.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: No, the name’s Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don’t own a computer. I want to buy one.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: I told you, my name’s Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don’t know. What will I see when I look in the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What have you got?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: For my office?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, lets just say I’m sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?

ABBOTT: Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue “W.”

COSTELLO: I’m going to click your blue “w” if you don’t start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. … What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That’s right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What’s bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn’t it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?

ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT!

A FEW DAYS LATER .

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click “START”…