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I got a free subscription to Newsweek the last time I gave money to Chicago Public Radio. I don’t care for Newsweek, and there is no room in my life for a weekly news magazine, but I thought, “Eh, fuck it. Maybe I’ll read it in the bathroom.” Mostly, though, I flip to whatever, if any, front cover article catches my fancy and then throw it out, waiting patiently for my gift subscription to run out.

With the arrival of the October 29, 2007 issue, I’m finally moved to cancel it. The headline reads “The Most Dangerous Nation In the World Isn’t Iraq. It’s Pakistan.” Pictured under this headline is the typical representation of Middle Eastern men in the news – an emotive, bearded, brown-skinned mob with arms raised, mouths open, looking both dangerous and supliant at the same time. In the middle of this group of “[s]tudents chanting anti-American slogans at the Red Mosque in Islamabad” is a man looking directly at the camera, his snarling features distended in rage, his hand reaching toward the camera like a nightmare man reaching out of the cover. Reaching right. for. you.

Give me a fucking break.

Look, is Pakistan the Most Dangerous Nation In the World? I don’t know. But I’m sure as hell not going to look to Newsweek for anything resembling decent, reasonable coverage of the issue. Not the Newsweek that is willing to manipulate its cover photos to achieve a certain emotional effect, which is what I strongly suspect is going on here.

This cover isn’t up on their website yet (linked above), but check it out at your local newstand and let me know what you think. Regardless, I’m canceling my subscription. Even if I didn’t pay for it, I don’t want to boost the circulation numbers of a magazine that would pick such an absurdly incendiary photo, manipulated or not, to illustrate a cover story about a scary Middle Eastern nation. We really don’t need any more war mongering in this country.

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Okay, after all that rending of garments and gnashing of teeth, I got inspired by the Rotund’s love of pot roast and thought of something to post about: Macaroni and cheese.

Macaroni and cheese is my favorite food, and has been for as long as I can remember. In my family, oven-baked mac and cheese was a special occasion dinner staple. No Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter dinners were complete without a hot dish of ooey, goey noodles and cheese topped with a crunchy crust. I started looking forward to any holiday dinners months in advance because I couldn’t even fathom how to make macaroni and cheese happen all by myself, plus? Mac and cheese is like the worst and most evil fat-making food in the world and if I ever ate it on a day that was not a major holiday I would suddenly swell to roughly the size of house and nobody would love me anymore. Yeah!

As an adult, I have made macaroni and cheese, to varying levels of success, a number of times. The version I made the most is a Weight Watchers recipe that was actually pretty decent, all things considered. Most recently, I made the Cook’s Illustrated version and it was close, but not quite perfect – too creamy, and the breadcrumb topping tasted like bread.

And so, for love of cooking and food and to prove to myself that macaroni and cheese is not evil but rather possibly the most perfect distillation of all that is good and right on earth, I am now on a mission and that mission is this: create the perfect macaroni and cheese. I want to make a mac and cheese that evokes the magical casseroles of my childhood, that lives up to my memories, that is super delicious, that my hypothetical grandchildren will demand the recipe to lest I take the secret of such an amazing foodstuff to my grave.

I plan to try different cheeses, different shapes of pasta, different binding agents, different sauce bases, and different toppings. I’ve got a block of two year cheddar that I bought at the Federal Plaza farmer’s market today and will sally forth this weekend. I will, of course, document my progress here.

If nothing else, this can be Ottermatic’s Macaroni and Cheese Blog.

So, mac and cheese fans, if you have any recipes to share, suggestions, or just want to revel in a shared love of cheesy pasta casserole, comment away!

Blogging sure has changed since the last time I had a website. In the olden days, in addition to having to walk barefoot to the internet cafes in the snow uphill both ways, most people just didn’t notice what I was writing. And those that did were internet people, not real life people. I could talk about pretty much whatever floated my boat at that particular time and, with a little nominal obfuscation, the subjects of my blog posts would be none the wiser.

Now, I don’t know if it’s WordPress and its clever tagging scheme or the robustitude of Google or the ubiquity of the internet or what, but even with a quiet little low traffic anonymous blog, people find me. This was brought to light when the Dog Fish Head rep that I talked shit about a few posts back stopped by to call me out on my shit talking. It had never occurred to me that he’d find this, or even look for it. I’m used to assuming that the majority of people I meet on a daily basis check their email or maybe read MSNBC or whatever news portal is the manufacturer’s default homepage on their browser and that’s the extent of it. To my chagrin, I find this is not true.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about what I am comfortable writing about and what I feel like needs to be off limits, just in case. And there’s a lot that I really feel is off limits. The only person that I know in real life who knows about this website is my husband, but most of my friends are super internet savvy so how long before they find it? I wear my politics on my sleeve, and it’s pretty clear to any body who has seen me in person in the last six months that I’ve accepted my fat, so it’s not the mere existence of these things that I would be loathe have my friends to discover but the depth of my feelings about them. Some of the things I write about are not open for debate or discussion with friends.

Basically, I worry that people are going to read my blog. But then see, I’m also worried that people won’t read it.

I’d decided from the get go that I would not blog about my job, the organization where I volunteer, the details of my personal activism, organizations of which I am a member and with whom I occasionally do interesting things, or any leisure activity thats description would suffer for lack of detail if adding the detail would be likely to alert someone to the presence of this blog and my identity. That basically leaves meals, cats, crochet (which I’ve not been doing much of lately), fat issues, and what I watch on TV. For example, here are some things I’ve wanted to blog about REALLY BAD but felt it prudent not to:

  • My friend’s documentary opening at a well-known local theater.
  • My friends’ bands playing at various venues.
  • My friend’s stage debut at a very well known Chicago theatrical institution (although not her stage debut in general).
  • My friend’s new dance number, and her dance troupe. (And yes, I have some f’n amazingly talented and beautiful friends!)
  • My love of and frustration with the organization that I volunteer for as they struggle for funding and I struggle to create boundaries around my free time and avoid having a nervous breakdown.
  • A yoga class that I signed up for and dropped out of because the teacher passed out weight-loss materials to the students.
  • Some neat new developments in my professional life.

I’ve been unmotivated to post about political issues, too, for a couple of reasons. For one, I think other bloggers do it much, much better than I ever could. For two, I want to do these posts justice, to give them the attention and detail that they deserve and I rarely have the time or energy to do so. And for a special bonus reason, while I still read the news and the blogs and strive to be informed and aware, because that is almost literally the least I can do, processing that information and really thinking about what is happening in our world… well, it’s depressing. I mean that in the literal sense – sitting at the computer ready to write and then WHOOSH here come the waves of despair and I just want to go watch cooking shows on television.

I had something else I was going to write but I forgot what it was, so here is a picture of my cat, post vet visit, coming down off her kitty Valium that we have to administer to keep her from eating the vet’s face, because I am confident that she does not read the internet:

This is your cat on drugs.

I really needed something to bolster my flagging spirits and this article at Junkfood Science totally did the trick. The way over-simplified gist? You’re less likely to succumb to age-related dementia if you have a little extra padding on you. Also? Fat people are smarter.

DUH.

This pretty much sums it up:

Comic

Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller

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