Recommended diversions

Rock On: An Office Power Ballad

Written by Dan Kennedy, this venture into life in the corporate music business isn’t available to the general public until Feb. 12, 2008. But that’s OK. That just means that you can go ahead and mark it down as a Valentine’s Day gift for the cynic and/or music lover in your life. Perhaps Todd Hanson, editor of The Onion: America’s Finest News Sources, says it best, “A delirious evocation of the love/hate relationship virtually my whole generation has had with the music industry. The rest of may have dreamed it, but Dan Kennedy actually lived it out in the trenches. The results aren’t pretty, but luckily for him, and us, they are hilarious.” Rock On is an easy read and a must for fans of Augusten Burroughs, Douglas Coupland and Sarah Vowell. (And if you haven’t read their stuff, just go ahead and pick it up too while you’re at it.)


Mangoes in Lemongrass Syrup

Found a Thai cookbook on the clearance rack at City Lights Bookstore one day and have greatly enjoyed working my way through it. This super easy dessert is alive with flavor and goes great over vanilla frozen yogurt. You’ll need two large ripe mangoes, one lime, one lemongrass stem bruised and roughly chopped and three tablespoons of sugar. (Note: I can’t seem to find lemongrass west of Asheville, but they do have it at EarthFare and from what I’ve found you can freeze it and it will maintain relatively well.) Halve the mangoes, remove the pits and peel off the skins. This is somewhat slippery business, so do take care. Slice or cube the mango. Zest a bit of the lime rind for decoration, then cut and squeeze the juice into a small pan with the lemongrass and sugar. Heat gently until sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Strain mixture from pan over mango and gently stir. Sprinkle with lime zest and chill before serving.


This American Life, Episode #218

In this episode of the classic radio storytelling production, This American Life finds that “Hamlet” endures, as evidenced by a dozen performances of the play by various theater companies in just one month’s time. However, the most notable performance is that by a group of inmates at a high-security prison who bring to life the story — one about murder and its consequences — performed by murderers living out the consequences. This is one of the best episodes of This American Life on record in my book, one that has been the topic of conversations with various people at various times, each of whom have been touched by the bitter irony and amazing lessons learned as Shakespeare connects with these inmates on the closest level. Find it, download it to your iPod, listen. English teachers of any level — take it to your classrooms, I promise your students will remember the story this go around.

— By Sarah Kucharski

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