Hello Again, National Poetry Month

Categories: News

“Poetry, like love, is something we never truly say goodbye to.”

-Robert Browning

I just made that quote up, but I’m sure Bobby Browning would agree. National Poetry Month may be officially over, but our appreciation for poetry cannot be curbed because of a silly date on a calendar. To extend your poetry fix, check out this fantastic GalleyCat interview with The Anthology of Really Important Modern Poetry authors Kathryn & Ross Petras.

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Inside the Author’s Studio: Austin Kleon of Steal Like An Artist

Categories: Authors on tour, Behind the scenes, News

In honor of the 2012 South by Southwest festival, which starts today, we’re celebrating with a visit to the Austin, Texas studio of Austin Kleon,  frequent SXSW panelist and attendee, and author of  the new book Steal Like an Artist. Here, we ask him a few questions, speed round style.

Recent book you loved/learned from: 

Jonathan Lethem’s The Ecstasy of Influence. The original piece that book is centered around had a huge influence on Steal Like An Artist, but the book is even richer.

Favorite bookstore:

It’s hard to pick just one! BookPeople and Domy Books are two amazing stores in Austin, Texas.

Hidden talent:

If it’s hidden, it’s hidden for a reason. (Wink.)

Bookmark or dog-ear?:

Dog-eared. And underlined. And scribbled in the margins… 

Book you are most ashamed never to have read:

I have a book out on creativity and I’ve never read Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit or Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way. (Whoops!)

Most frequent form of writerly procrastination:


Favorite childhood book:

Ernie’s Big Mess. (A Sesame Street Start-to-Read Book)


Alternate ambition:

Beach bum.

Your perfect meal:

My mom’s fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, a slice of cherry pie, and a glass of milk.

Big dream:

To be unemployed and independently wealthy.

Super power of choice:

Flying. I’d be having some Grimaldi’s pizza for dinner. (Like my dachshund, I’m food motivated.)

In Steal, you recommend reaching out to creative heroes who inspire you by writing blog posts, dedicating your work to them, and writing fan letters. What was the last fan letter you wrote?

The last fan letter I wrote was Steal! It’s a public fan letter to all the artists who’ve taught me so much.

What Workman book would you like to receive as compensation for your participation?

I Will Teach You To Be Rich


If you’re in Austin, Texas come by the Austin Convention Center this Saturday from 12:30 – 1:30 to hear Austin Kleon and filmmaker Kirby Ferguson discuss creativity in the digital age, followed by a book signing.


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Introducing A Manifesto For Creativity in The Digital Age (and a dog named Milo)

Categories: On blogs around the web, Video


Steal Like An Artist

By Austin Kleon

In Bookstores and Online February 28th

Don’t cry, there are enough copies for everyone.

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Bean Dip for the Courteous Super Bowl Party Guest

Categories: News

On the list of party faux pas, showing up to a Super Bowl party empty-handed falls somewhere between using up all the toilet paper and spilling red wine on the couch. There are few things worse than the guest who eats all the guacamole, but doesn’t bring any of his or her own.

While it doesn’t matter what you bring—beer, wings, Chinese food…all will suffice—there is one satisfying staple that will prevent you being “that guest”: 7-layer bean dip. But before you dig up that old recipe you learned in college, check out this new one below, courtesy of Workman’s newest cookbook Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon.  Go ahead! It’s what the courteous Super Bowl party guest would do.


7-Layer Tex-Mex Mountain

  • 3 to 4 soft-ripe Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 bunches of scallions, derooted, whites and about 3 inches of  green chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, well rinsed, stemmed, and finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons sliced pickled jalapenos, minced
  • 2 to 2 ½ cups refried beans, either homemade or canned
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp cheese, preferably a combination of Monterey Jack and Cheddar
  • 3 large tomatoes, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream or thick, full-fat unsweetened plain yogurt (Greek-style is ideal here)
  • 1 cup sliced California black olives, drained
  • A few large red-leaf lettuce leaves (optional)
  • Red, yellow, and/or blue tortilla chips, for serving


  1. Place the avocados, lemon juice, and salt in a medium size bowl and coarsely mash together with a fork. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the scallions, cilantro, and minced jalapeno. Set aside.
  3. Spread the refried beans on the bottom of a glass pie pan. Spread the avocado mixture on top, then the scallion mixture, then the cheese and then the tomatoes. Cap the mountain with the sour cream or yogurt, and lastly, sprinkle with the circle of black olives. If you like, poke a few lettuce leaves around the mountain’s base to frame it decoratively.
  4. Place the tortilla chips in a bowl (or separate bowls, by color) alongside.

Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer.

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A Final Sip of 2011

Categories: News

Tired of toasting the New Year with the same old glass of bubbly? Then try this delicious cocktail from Celebrate! by Sheila Lukins. It’s sure to impress your New Year’s Eve guests. Just make sure there’s some Bud heavy for your boyfriend.

Celebration Cocktail

A romantic, sweet, fragrant, bubbly, tangy–this dazzling sparkler is a holiday gift in a glass of champagne. Now that’s festive.

8 cubes Demerara (raw) sugar

(such as Sugar-in-the-Raw brand)

16 dashes Angostura bitters

8 ounces Grand Marnier

40 ounces (1 3/4 bottles) chilled champagne

8 twists of orange peel

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Are You Jewish? Why Not Try Something Newish?

Categories: Cookbooks, Cooking, Holiday, News, Recipes

When you think of Hanukkah nosh, you think latkes: delicious fried potato pancakes with dollops of apple sauce or sour cream. But did you know that jelly doughnuts, known as sufganiyot, are a traditional Hanukkah treat in Israel? Follow the recipe below from Judy Bart Kancigor’s Cooking Jewish to make about 3 ½ dozen of these popular pastries:

Pnina Shichor’s Sufganiyot

(jelly doughnuts)

½ cup plus scant 1 cup warm water

(105 to 110 degrees F)

3 packages active dry yeast

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs, beaten

5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour

Canola or corn oil, for frying

Jam (any flavor)

Confectioner’s sugar

  1. Preheat the oven on the lowest setting for 15 minutes, and turn it off.
  2. Pour the ½ cup warm water into a very large (at least 6-quart) bowl. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve it. Then add 1 teaspoon of the sugar, stir, and set the mixture aside until bubble, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir the scant 1 cup water, salt, oil, remaining sugar, and eggs into the yeast mixture. Add 3 cups of the flour, and mix. Gradually knead in the remaining flour until the dough is spongy and elastic but still feels slightly tacky. Remove the dough and oil the bowl (no need to wash it). Turn the dough in the bowl to coat it all over with oil, and loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  4. Let the dough rise in the turned-off oven until it nearly reaches the top of the bowl, about 2 hours.
  5. Punch down the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is ¼-inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or glass, cut out the rounds of dough. Place the rounds on a baking sheet and set them aside to rise, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  6. Pour oil to a depth of 1 inch into an electric frying pan (preferred), deep fryer, or large, heavy skillet and heat it to 365 degrees F.
  7. Dip your fingers in flour, and lift up a round of dough. Move it back and forth between your two middle fingers to stretch the center of the round quite thin without tearing it. This will be the depression for the jam.
  8. Quickly drop rounds in the hot oil, depression side down—a few at a time, without crowding. Cover the pan and fry until the doughnuts are golden brown but not dark, about 30 seconds. Quickly turn them, cover the pan, and fry until the other side is golden brown, 30 seconds more. Drain the doughnuts on both sides on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining rounds of dough.
  9. Fill the depressions with jam, and dust the doughnuts with confectioners’ sugar. These are best when eaten warm. They don’t keep well, but no matter. You won’t have any leftovers.
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Happy Holiday Interim Period!

Categories: Events, Family, Holiday, Humor, News, Video

Now that Thanksgiving’s over and the family has scattered  (at least for now), there’s a good chance they somehow manage not to feel so far away. Between FaceTime, Skype, email, and other modern modes of conversation, it’s fairly likely you’re not missing a beat — either you’re texting them or, more likely, they’re texting you. So, in celebration of this in-between holiday time and the When Parents Text blog’s 1st year anniversary (a holiday in itself!), we present you with this lovely video:


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Lives of the Incredibly Awesome: The Real Indiana Jones

Categories: News

Patrick Leigh Fermor was regarded by many as one of the greatest travel writers of his generation, as evidenced in his two finest works, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. Some facts about the incredibly awesome Fermor, a man the BBC once described as “a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene”:

  • His mother joined his father (a geologist working in India and the first president of the Indian National Science Academy) within several months of Fermor’s birth, leaving him in England with a farmer’s family.
  • He was expelled from King’s School, Canterbury for holding hands with a local greengrocer’s daughter.  His housemaster wrote him up as “a dangerous mix of sophistication and recklessness which makes one anxious about his influence on other boys.”
  • In 1933, when he was 18, he set off across the English Channel to wander Europe with only a backpack and a copy of Horace’s “Odes.” He traveled on foot, by train and automobile, even on horseback, bunking with strangers that included “Orthodox Jewish woodcutters in Transylvania, Hungarian Gypsies, White Russian exiles, German barons, French-speaking monks in Austria, and Romanian shepherds along the Danube.” His journey finally ended in January 1937, when he reached Constantinople.
  • During World War II, he joined the Irish Guards and was chosen for a Special Operations unit created by Winston Churchill to “wage war by unconventional means.” In an attempt to lead a Greek resistance to German occupation in the Aegean, he lived disguised as a shepherd on the island Crete for over a year until he kidnapped the island’s German commander. The feat earned Fermor the Distinguished Service Order and inspired the film Ill Met by Moonlight.
  • Fermor’s only novel, The Violins of Saint-Jacques, which was published in 1953, was turned into an opera in 1966 by the Australian composer Malcolm Williamson.
  • He finally accepted a knighthood in 2004, after having turned it down in 1991. The Greek government awarded him its highest honor, the Commander of the Phoenix, in 2007.

For more on Patrick Leigh Fermor and other amazing lives, buy The Obits: The New York Times Annual 2012, the best of The New York Times obituaries from the previous year.

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Lives of the Incredibly Awesome: “The Dragon Lady”

Categories: News

As official hostess to the unmarried president of South Vietnam—her brother-in-law, Ngo Dinh Diem—Madame Nhu was anything but diplomatic. She was known for threatening Diem’s aides, allies, and critics; referring to the public self-immolations of Buddhist monks as “barbecues;” and wasn’t shy about pointing a gun around. While American soldiers and journalists called her “The Dragon Lady” because of her resemblance to the villain in the comic strip “Terry and the Pirates,” Madame Nhu wasn’t all bad. For example, after winning a seat in the National Assembly in 1956, she pushed through measures that increased women’s rights. Below are more instances of this complex and complicated character’s awesomeness:

  • She resisted an arranged marriage, choosing instead to marry Ngo Dinh Nhu, who would eventually become the chief political adviser to his brother and head of the secret police and special forces.
  • Petite and glamorous, she made the form-fitting ao dai her signature outfit, modifying the national dress with a low-cut neckline. When President Diem questioned the modesty of her dress, she snapped back: “It’s not your neck that sticks out, it’s mine.” Over stepping her bounds more than once, she was eventually exiled to a convent in Hong Kong. However, the president soon reconsidered and brought her back.
  • After overhearing the head of the army, Gen. Nguyen Van Hinh, brag that he would overthrow the president and make her his mistress, Madame Nhu confronted him at a Saigon party. “You are never going to overthrow this government because you don’t have the guts,” she told him “And if you do overthrow it, you will never have me because I will claw your throat out first.”
  • She survived being held hostage for four months by communist troops, an air-raid on the presidential palace, in which she fell through a bomb hole in her bedroom to the basement two floors below, and the coup d’état that killed her brother-in-law and husband.

For more on Madame Nhu and other amazing lives, buy The Obits: The New York Times Annual 2012, a new annual that collects the best of The New York Times obituaries from the previous year. And check back next week, for the final installment of Snippets of the Lives of the Incredibly Awesome.

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Lives of the Incredibly Awesome: “The Spy Who Came In From the Emmentaler”

Categories: News

As the leader of Swiss military intelligence, Albert Bachmann (aka Henry Peel or Black Hand) was regarded as a visionary by a select few and dismissed as paranoid by most. His belief in an imminent Soviet invasion of Switzerland led him to create a secret intelligence service unknown to his own government.  Further debriefing below:

Albert Bachmann, Swiss Spymaster

  • After the 1968 Soviet takeover of Czechoslovakia, Bachmann co-wrote the “Civil Defense,” a worst-case scenario guide meant to prepare the Swiss against a possible invasion. 2.6 million copies were printed.
  • Appointed to run Swiss intelligence in 1976, he created Project 26, a secret army of 2,000 resistance fighters trained to wage guerrilla warfare against Soviet troops.
  • In the event of a Soviet invasion, Bachmann bought Liss Ard, a 200-acre estate near Cork, Ireland, to serve as a refuge and headquarters for an exiled Swiss state government.

For more about the life of this Swiss spymaster, read The Obits: The New York Times Annual 2012, a new annual that collects the best of The New York Times obituaries from the previous year. And check back next week, for another installment of Snippets of the Lives of the Incredibly Awesome.

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Posted by at 2:46 pm
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