28 December 2006

'Tis the Season

Gift giving continues ... you simply MUST check out Pandora.com. Free music listening online. Define a channel of stuff you dig, and Pandora plays like stuff you may not know, albeit potentially diggable. So far I have two channels: EFO, for all music vaguely acoustical; and XTC for all things vaguely electric. Plan to add Jazz and Blues tunage channels directly.

26 December 2006

Word Power

Get Fuzzy from 22-Dec-2006, by Darby Conley.

A tip o' the hat to CarolinaMom for starting my love of words. Pre-kindergarten library afternoons, reading languidly and racking up the gold stars as the completed tally grew. Another shout out to Jill Rock, who suffered upon the 12th grade English Literature class my first paperback school text: Word Power, the only book I've ever burned. Don't get yer knickers in a twist - tradition was to cathartically light that weekly quiz-driven pain in the *ss and watch it smolder.

This post is more about the stars than the burning. For many years now, I've enjoyed A Word a Day. Words known and new, with a quote nestled inside (usually of the provocative variety). It joins the vaulted Links That Don't Suck, and I hope you'll consider subscribing to enjoy it every morning as I do.

The power of words is rather stunning. We can't think, feel, or connect with others without them. Wit can't exist in their absence. Poetry may not be universally cherished, but without its lyrical form in music the human race would be SO missing out. Learning is utterly, ultimately dependent on them.

So, words = knowledge. knowledge = power. low word knowledge = ignorance. From here, if you choose to maintain low word knowledge, that equals being clueless (without clue and damn proud of it to stay that way). Clueless = Stupid, and stoopid people suck. If you take the road less traveled and opt for expanding the vocab, then your state can change from cluefree (currently without clue but willing to seek one out), to clueful. Clueful people are the cheekier kind, in general.

G'head. Be particular. Choose not to suck.

Merry Ho Ho

James, by Mark Tonra.

Merry Ho Ho to all y'all.

28 November 2006


More things that don’t suck: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, both on Comedy Central. Colbert’s smarmyness sends my wit-o-meter off the charts. His show is usually the superior tingler of my language coconut, but this month’s Kernan the Grammarian specialness moment goes to Jon Stewart, hands down. Was Stewart intimidated by Seinfeld’s comic legacy, or does he regularly c*ckup words and I’m too new a viewer to see a pattern? Joyful mockery, either way.

Word candy also buzzes brains on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Have dug Aaron Sorkin’s writing since Sports Night (d*mn gotta find the box with DVD set from BroBuckwheat!). To wit:

Conservative: "Why do our sides hate each other?"
Liberal: "Your side hates our side because you think we think you're stupid. Our side hates your side, because we think you're stupid."

And speaking of thinks that don’t suck: The Dilbert Blog. It’s my holiday gift to you. Don’t be a graceless receiver – you can’t return it. Tear off the shiny bow and paper every morning and cackle with glee at what’s inside. No slack*ss excuses accepted when Cheek next sees you. Expect pop quizzes.

So give back. What cranks your linguistic squirrel cage? Share what’s vivid and pithful.

13 November 2006






e.e. cummings

Fall has arrived in Atlanta. The weekend’s wind felled many leaves whose riotous colors haven’t been enjoyed in years due to summer droughts. The deep, vibrant reds in the crape myrtles and pear trees are my favorites. Saturday was Veteran’s Day: read my blogmother’s post .

Autumn’s smells also arrived for me this weekend. Glorious wood fairies brought oak from the trees felled in their own yard, and visiting Florida Dad has been the fire master in addition to working repair and installation magic in the new abode. Quaffing hazelnut hot cocoa (with whipped cream, natch!) by the fire is great stuff.

I’m no Becky-homecky, but I’m compelled to share this seasonal smell druther that doubles as a winter humidifying service. Carolina Mom got me hooked years ago, and my first pot brewed yesterday to much olfactory satisfaction:

Orange Potpourri:

- Dedicate a large pot for the season; fill with water
- Slice 4 to 6 oranges, quarter, squeeze juice in the pot, then toss in the quarters
- Add copious amounts of whole cloves and cinnamon sticks (buy in bulk at CostCo, Sam’s, Whole Foods, etc.)
- Bring to a boil for a few minutes to get things airborne, then simmer on low all day
- Add water periodically; shutoff overnight
- Next morning, boil again, then simmer all day
- Change the pot once a week, tossing the contents into the garden or a compost pile

When you visit chez Cheek, this scent will welcome you. Now I just need my annual supply of roasting chestnut candles and I’m set.

05 November 2006


Something I read a couple of weeks ago has stuck with me. A German man “freed” in 1992 from his prison term for a murder sentence refuses to leave the joint. Seems rules there say he doesn’t have to leave if he doesn’t wanna.

What is up with that?

Is change so bad, so much to be afraid of, that being locked up is better? Is accountability and living your life based on your own choices more heinous?

And Heinous Bienfang, where are you?

Changes a’plenty have been on tap in CheekDom. Personal, professional, abode. Balking was indeed my first response to each of these changes, but the rightness of them made themselves evident. Eventually. Perhaps my resources aren’t as stretched as Prisoner Heinous, as I have friends, countrymen, furriners, and family (you know who you are) with which to discuss and touch and know migrations, evolutions, and conclusions. Those without such resources are … outlaws, I suppose.

Heinous, there’s beauty in the breakdown. Count some crows, let go of your murder of one, and fly. Purposefully seek happiness with reason as your absolute. Lather, rinse, repeat.

28 September 2006

Kernan the Grammarian

Some old dish: I'm an FSU grad. And a big college sports fan, albeit not in favor of FSU football. My passion was ACC basketball, and as my last semester was FSU's first in the ACC, I unabashedly cheered on every opposing team. Go 'Heels!

Was an English major at aforementioned "institution". Years later, was dubbed a Grammarian by a beer fairy, and yes, I resemble that remark. Last week, my alma mater solicited funds under the guise of pride. Those lame bastards aren't getting one red cent outta me. Why? Kernan's pet peeve, that's why. See below. If you can't figger out what's wrong with this picture below, you suck. Mebbe not completely, nor as much as FSU does, but you suck nonetheless.

The English department should serve as editorial review staff for outward bound communications, methinks. Or is this an overreaction as a Grammarian? After all, who needs Two Weeks Notice, or Eats, Shoots and Leaves? Be careful about seeking out they're form of education for you're learning. Supposably their folks get it right most of the time, irregardless of the occasional mistake or three.

Grrrr. Aaaack! Thhpptt!

03 September 2006

By request: Things to eat before you die

A sister in the wankosphere has challenged me to scribe in spirit of her recent post. To wit, another blogger’s “Guide to the Globe: Things to eat before you die.” Oh, Sheena. Know ye of whom you challenge to such a task? The self-proclaimed, most-particular picky eater of my own acquaintance?

Thankfully, my taste buds have been recently awakened. My Dad & stepMom Judy sojourned with me over the summer, preparing most dinners for two months. I eat things once scoffed at, picked around on the plate, and avoided. Going to restaurants now requires more time, as I look beyond the appetizer section and can sit at the big kid’s table. Onions, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes: bring ‘em on! No shit. You laugh, but this is revolutionary stuff for one famous for ordering pizza, light on the sauce.

So, I’m not a foodie. Yet. Give me time. My must list pre-dates my taste revolution. I’ll have to leave off the obvious ones that others glom onto: fresh glazed off the conveyor belt from Krispy Kreme; Hostess HoHos, and more. But I do have some foodgasm musts:

1. Chicharron de Pollo from Roberto’s Little Havana in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Ask for extra mohito sauce to get the requisite garlic/lemon zing and to dip your fried yucca. End with Tres Leches cake and roll yourself home.

2. A grilled cheese sammich with crisp bacon on sourdough bread. Had my first at the Fog City Diner in San Francisco, sitting at the counter while Johnny Bench (Cincinnati Reds catcher & MLB hall of famer) and Ed O’Neill (Married with Children) dined in the booth behind me. Good with tomato as well.

3. Bacon. Glorious, wonderful bacon. Good with everything except chocolate. Prefer it fried, but often microwave it at home.

4. Garlic. Roasted and spread. Minced or chopped, and in everything (again, except chocolate). Garlic makes everything great and can forgive other weaknesses. Hope vampirism isn’t catching, cuz I’d be so screwed.

5. Chicken Piccata, done right. Meat beaten flat to less than a quarter inch thickness, lots of lemon and garlic.

6. A Chocolate Dipped Cone from Dairy Queen. A treat of my youth, rediscovered in adulthood. Zesto in Atlanta serves a gourmand version.

7. Brie and Fruit in Phyllo Pastry. Not only good in restaurants, Super Target’s own splendid Archer Farms brand in the frozen food section, with pears.

8. Potato Paradise: Shoe string fries (Houston’s), Freshly made potato chips with sesame ginger dressing (Village Tavern), The Swede's Mashed Potatoes (real butter, half and half, and secret spice), and Rosemary Garlic New Potatoes (chez moi, Judy’s recipe). After all, I haven’t met a potato I didn’t like.

9. Smoked gouda beer batter cheese fondue. Visit me, and in 10 minutes you’ll have warm heaven over crusty bread and granny smith apples. Yes, lots of garlic.

10. Olive Tapenade. First sampled in New Orleans with mushroom paté. Love it on bread, with veggies, or by the spoonful.

And I agree with Sheena: Dill pickles are among the highest on my “ew!”-o-meter – will send my grilled cheese sammiches back to the kitchen to decontaminate the damn plate and ding the server on the tip for not listening when I said NO PICKLE!

29 July 2006

Running on Empty

Too many occasions of being empty recently. Trip to Carolina Mom’s in The Swede’s 8 cylinder, petrol-guzzling SUV brought pump sticker shock to this 6 cylinder, higher mpg girl. Over $50 US to fill the tankage each time – ouch! – and price has gone up since. My ’95 Mazda keeps-on-goin’-with-no-car-payment model receives daily affirmations and praise, but when I have to heave it into the crush yard, these freakin’ prices have me wanting more choice and less cashola for hybrids.

The perky little beverage fridge recently purchased at CostCo is now sadly empty of the case of wee 8 ounce Coca-Cola bottles, chilled to perfection and the right refreshment skosh after watering the potted plants in the scorching late Atlanta afternoons. Having seen some SPECT scans of brains on caffeine, I momentarily swore off the stuff. But those bottles and that cold taste take me back to my Grandma’s house in Buckroe Beach, when the bottles were bigger (and you could return ‘em for cash) and she put ‘em in these black and gold lamay koozies to mind the sweat potential on her cherry furniture and piano. I’d set one down next to the typewriter in her attic office, where I’d write a missive asking yet again for a sleepover (as if my folks didn’t expect it every time). I’ve learned since that Grandma didn’t have a lot of patience for little kids – her profession of teaching calculus at Hampton University was the right audience age for her liking – but she won an academy award for putting up with my antics. Or was it more the Nobel prize for toleration? Her house and the former institute, now university are still there, tho' Fort Monroe nearby has been decommissioned and will soon be full of park goers or snob residents, depending on how the wonks lobby (and empty of Army staffers).

Empties have been rattling in my car as well. No, no alcoholic binges in the present. Just the aluminum bones from the drained cans of sparkling water, which I’m trying to fake my body into believing is my new soda. It’s fizzy! It sparkles! But my grumpy, caffeine-addled brain ain’t buying it.

But the big empty peeve? My HP OfficeJet LX, circa 1993, is out of ink. I’ve gone practically paperless – I read & review everything on my laptop, and print occasional directions and errant expense reports. I haven’t bought a new ink cartridge for the printer in – oh, mebbe 3 years? Well, damn if they don’t make the suckers any more. I can find after market knock offs and refill kits for about $50 US. But a new printer costs about that, and now the printers are so cheap and it’s all about refilling the empties. Where the hell was my ingenuity not to get in on THAT racket?

So, fill ‘er up. Load the gas tank: cha-ching. Trip down memory lane with the case of coke bottles. Bribe the brain to let go of the sugar buzz. Acquiesce and buy the new printer. But when I slip, I do have a place to fill up. My new wow can be found at QuikTrip, where for 59 cents you can get a 32 ounce drink with your choice of ice – crushed or cubed. Heaven! The crushed is almost as good as the “rabbit pellet” ice I loved at the cafeteria at the HQ building at Kennedy Space Center. One of these days, I’m gonna get me one of those rabbit pellet ice makers installed where I live, and I will be able to fill up my cup any damn time I please. Yeah, I’ll lose my teeth faster, but my cup will always be full.

05 July 2006

Yankey Doodle Damdandy!

Summertime in the South. Despite the drought conditions, the potted hydrangeas are faring well enough.

So, my pop is a Yankee Doodle Dandee. He’s been visiting of late, and in honor of his happy to you day (and, oh yeah, the American Independence holiday), The Swede and I hosted a cookout. How many blokes DOES it take to mitigate the unintended hickory chip fire on the chargoal grill?

A small crowd, albeit most enthusiastic enough to stay for the fireworks in the distance at the municipal park. Despite the rainout for the finale, which my father watched as a lightning magnet under his golf umbrella.

In the midst of heading abed, the phone rang. Carolina Mom sounded sleepy, scared, and disoriented. Righteously so. Two trees had fallen on her home, and she was awakened by the cacophonous noise and the sights and smells of the electric box on her house dancing an Irish jig. Good news: no loss of life, hers or the sweet girls Duchess and Druscilla (of the feline variation). Bad: much house action. Heading there to lend labor, TLC, etc.

The occasion for this post draws me to the date, and a folk band. The Fifth of July, and Eddie from Ohio. They are on the evergreen list of things that don’t suck, with wondrous harmonies, fantastic live performances, and clever lyrics. Known entities since my teenage years. To wit, I share the following "Fifth of July" song lyrics:

One if by land,
Two if by sea,
Three if by phone or facsimile.
Four if by plane,
Five if by boat,
Six if bilingual,
Seven by goat.
Eight by ten glossies of me ….

Happy to you day, wherever you are, be you Yankee Doodle Dandee or otherwise.

20 June 2006

Paris: Smokers, Big Sunglasses, and People Watching

June 15-19: Final stop, Paris, and the best hotel of the trip ... the free one, via cashing out hotel points. Was greeted by an herbal statue, and am still working on The Swede to add one to our yard chez nous.

The mad dash included greatest hits - Arc de Triomphe, Tour Eiffel, Musee d'Orsay, Louvre, Notre Dame, Sainte Chappelle, Musee Rodin - and a few Monet showcases - L'Orangerie in the Tuillieries and Musee Marmottan. But people watching was the most enjoyable. On the walk from the Marmottan, we ducked for cover from the weekend urchin water balloon war. Sunset over Place de la Concorde and the Tuillieries had locals and tourists milling, while we enjoyed a picnic.

Everyone smokes in Paris. Trip to Italy last fall didn't see nearly as much. All the girls are into Jackie O, big-A sunglasses, and iPods a'plenty. English speaking is more obvious and less resisted by shop owners, urchins, and average strangers. The city is still dirty - littering in museums next to priceless art was commonplace and disturbing. Graffiti is up, big time.

Our last night - street cafe hopping in Place St. Michel, where the requisite art nouveau metro photo is not without its own guest - the wee chat on the bar awning spied as we dined below. We were off the next day back home to our own, not so wee chats.

Packing included the use of one of my favorite things that don't suck - the "oh crap" duffel bag (OSB) that folds into nothing, but stows away a week's worth of laundry. We managed to make the trip home without breaking into the Belgian chocolate meant for The Swede's office mates and my visiting family, but it's doubtful either portion will last long upon arrival.

Brussels: Beer and Chocolate

Dateline: Wednesday, 14-June: Laundry day, in Brussels. Home of the EU, the Smurfs, and the impertinent Mannekin Pis. The clean but rank laundromat was made pleasant by an al fresco breakfast: pain du chocolat and juice outside on the street, where the air was consumable. The rain caught us on the way back to the Hotel Ibis. Gaufres with nutella as a breakfast second course, some Rick Steves recommended sights, and then we hit the 4 chocolate shops on the Grand Place and acquired 100 grams each of Godiva, Neuhaus, Galler, and Leonidas, quaffed with Kriek and Framboise beers. The white chocolate from the latter two were deemed superlative. Cards, Hoegaarden, and world cup soccer in the hotel pub during the afternoon rainshower, Italian pub grub, and better sleep, as the sky approached darkness compared to the Swedish light fest. Chocolate and beer, yummm. Homer Simpson heaven.

Swedish Baby Bling

Ok. So perhaps I identify a bit too much with Eddie From Ohio's song "1,000 Sarahs", where a girl isn't allowed to get her ears pierced until she's 12, no matter what. I mean, really. What does it hurt to let a prepubescent youth put on some lip gloss, pierce her ears, and rush just a bit headlong into being a bit too glammed up for her britches? "Because your sister didn't have them done until she was 12" is not parental righteousness; it's the I told you so defense.

Still, I suppose some parents could be too lax in letting their kids adorn themselves with piercings, tattoos, and such. The Swedish seem to be more flexible than the average American. You decide.

17 June 2006

A Helan Gar Utfart

The evening of Saturday, June 10th found us with jumbotron action for Sweden’s first game in the World Cup. A disappointing 0-0 tie, but a spectacle by the water in Sodertalje, nonetheless.

Sunday, we dined with The Swede’s uncle and family; a grand affair, with a table spread the likes that found us wondering which glass housed which alcoholic beverage. Since herring was served, “snaps” was in order, as well as the traditional Helan gar song. The natives sang first, and our hosts graciously provided “Svenglish” lyrics but righteously mocked our attempts to sing along.

The afternoon’s Bocca, warm weather, and company found us reluctant to go.

Monday, we took a chance on a tour of nearby Stockholm. And Mamma mia, we found a great street perch to catch the changing of the guard. The marching band, who struck up a tune that took a while to figger out its Fernando familiarity, only to finally pin it down as ABBA’s “Waterloo.” Who knew? We chased it with a great tour of the Vasa museum and the oldest ship that never quite sailed. So ended our Swedish sojourn, and we were off to Brussels.

09 June 2006

Välkommen from Sweden!

Well, we started out fresh. Freshly showered, a fresh repast, and connections begun. We wung ourselves eastward to Scandinavia for a familial trek to Sodertalje, Sweden. Plane to Stockholm was diverted 250 km southwest due to air traffic control system failure, but a few hours, another flight, some trains and automobile, and my own handsome Swede sherpa'd us into lodgings and the rendez-vous with famdamily. Light knoshing at the local Australian pub, and sleep. Today we sojourned about the town, haunting the hometown of Bjorn Borg and the Swede's father, visiting festival grounds, observing Swedish fowl

and foul Swedes all about the village - albeit, high school grads celebrating, so we gave 'em some slack. Grub at a Croation-owned pub, where English was short on the menu, but World Cup action in large relief. Twilight on the Swede at 10 pm finds us saying hey da for now.