Calorie Counts on Menus, 1915 Style

Calorie Counts on Menus, 1915 Style

As I’m working on my next novel, I’m spending a lot of time in 1915–and it turns out that absolutely nothing has changed in 100 years.  Here, for instance, is a big announcement in the New York Times about a brand new idea:  Put calorie counts on menus! It’s only one restaurant–the lunchroom at the Department of Health–but the hope was that the idea would spread. “It might not be possible to state the...

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Tales of the Cocktail Notes

Tales of the Cocktail Notes

  This post will only make sense to you if you were in the talk I gave at Tales of the Cocktail called The Drunken Botanist:  A Preview. It was a sneak preview of my new book, coming out in March 2013, called The Drunken Botanist:  The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks.  I promised to share links to a bunch of sources, so here they are: Handbook of Alcoholic Beverages — this new two-volume set covers a wide range of...

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The Portland Diaries, Part 4

The Portland Diaries, Part 4

This was me the very moment I woke up this morning: I do not like my state of mind; I’m bitter, querulous, unkind… I am not sick, I am not well. My quondam dreams are shot to hell. My soul is crushed, my spirit sore; I do not like me any more. I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse. I ponder on the narrow house. Except that unlike my drinking buddy Mrs. Parker,  I had no excuse. I was not due to fall in love again.  I was just a foul,...

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The Portland Diaries, Part 3

The Portland Diaries, Part 3

Add this your list of great last lines in literature: “When I hung up I felt as if I was an astronaut who had completed his orbit of the earth and now I was pulled by some new gravity into a cold clean darkness.” That’s Walter Mosley at the end of A Little Yellow Dog.  I stood in my pretty little Tin House apartment this morning after I read that and said it out loud three or four or a dozen more times.  Saying it out loud...

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The Portland Diaries, Part 2

The Portland Diaries, Part 2

I went the wrong way at the Rothko exhibit at the Portland Art Museum, turning right instead of left, which meant that I saw his last work first.  I have an excuse, though:  when I walked in, I looked to the left and saw a bunch of stuff I didn’t recognize.  Nice paintings, but not Rothkos.  Must be some other exhibit. Works from the permanent collection or whatever.  But over to the right I saw some Rothkos, so I went that way. You...

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The Portland Diaries, Part 1.5

The Portland Diaries, Part 1.5

I should be back at the apartment writing The Great American Something right now, but instead I’m in a coffee shop writing yet another blog post. Actual conversation overheard a few minutes ago: Customer asks what kombucha is. Man and woman behind the counter take turns trying to answer. It’s…uh….it’s this stuff– It’s alive, kind of. Yeah, no, it is alive.  It’s got these...

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The Portland Diaries, Part One

The Portland Diaries, Part One

So here I am in Portland, occupying a totally charming apartment courtesy of Tin House, whose offices are right next door.  (press release, which explains everything.) Actually, the magazine is on one side and the book publisher is on the other, so I am surrounded by literary wonderfulness.  On Tuesdays I teach a nonfiction workshop in Portland State University’s MFA program; that happened for the first time last night.  Damn, those...

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What This Small Business Needs

Dear President and Congress, I'm so glad to hear everyone talk about small business and job creation.  And by "everyone," I mean everyone except small business owners themselves.  We're too busy running our businesses to take time out to talk policy.  But I was pleased to see this article about how a survey of actual small businesses finds that regulations and taxes aren't our biggest problem.  I...

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