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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Learning to Laugh

I've been enthralled by Sydney's growth since before she was projected from the womb, but this latest bit is the biggest crack-up.

Seriously, I would stare in awe at the black and white pictures of the little one growing from the size of a kidney bean to the size of a head of Swiss chard. Though I never did get the food obsession when it comes to size comparisons. We subscribed to's updates, and I think the last email that came before Sydney's birth said that she was the size of a leek.

A leek? Really? I understand that it's hard to find a an object that most Americans would be able to relate to, but picking a vegetable most of us probably remember from studying Chaucer doesn't help. How about, "By now, you're baby is about as long as a MacBook Pro." And the heads reading this would nod, "ahhh, I see... 15 inch or 17 inch?"

I digress. Of course. I'm always digressing. Must I now regress?

So, while Sydney was progressing in utero through the various kingdoms, divisions and classes of the culinary world, we were expecting a little human. Thankfully, this is what we got, not a head of Chinese cabbage (week 28).

I guess I should not have been surprised by the fact that she wasn't born fully up to speed, given the fact that she was used to living upside-down in a liquid-filled belly, and we are used to arguing over morning radio and laughing at people who ride Segways. I was still amazed by the things could not do and how she learned to do them. For example, I remember the day that her tear ducts began functioning. A baby's cry is alarming, but with tears streaming down...

It was really enjoyable to watch the smile develop, but the laugh takes the cake (so far). About a week ago, Sydney giggled. Now she'll laugh if you can do something that she really finds amusing. She's a tough critic. Usually she looks at you like Jackie Mason looked at me when he said, "It that the best joke you got?"

Yeah, Jackie Mason said that to me what I was 14 and thought it would be a good joke to bump into him in the cafeteria of a Catskills retreat and drop a bunch of silverware, as if he were trying to steal them. As Alf once said, "I kill me." (Jackie Mason = Mrs. Ochmonek)

Sydney's laugh is taking form... I started to think about the laugh and realized that her laugh will likely stay pretty much the same for her entire life. The pitch will change, of course, but the underlying nature of it will stay the same. Sydney's laugh is a big belly laugh. A "heh-heh" as her stomach bounces. It takes some work to get a laugh... usually when one of us repeats a line from the Great Master, Jim Henson.

"mahna-mahna" is a good one, as is "do-do-dee-oo" from "Rubber Ducky."

She squeels and smiles plenty, but the laugh... working on the video...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ryan Victor's Senior Thesis - Part 1

Back in 1998, while a junior at the University of Notre Dame, Jeff Spoonhower and I made a mockumentary entitled Ryan Victor's Senior Thesis. The short film, which was also accepted into the prestigious Notre Dame Student Film Festival in 1999, is about a fictional student film maker named Ryan Victor, his obsession with movies, film history and himself. And ten years later I am blogging about it.

I've decided to break it into segments. Here is part 1:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Brooklyn Beet CSA

Last month, Dana and I signed up to join a newly-formed CSA that was accepting members from Boerum Hill locals: Brooklyn Beet CSA.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Members buy a share or half share and pay for the season up-front or in installments throughout the season. This arrangements ensures that the farmer will have some money in hand during spring and a guaranteed income during the summer and early fall. CSA members take on some risk, since the season's crops may not yield as much as expected, but they also benefit from healthy crops. Not to mention the benefit of weekly deliveries of fresh, local produce.

I had been looking for a CSA to join since we moved back to Brooklyn. Our diet had been evolving for a while - far less meat and much more fruits and vegetables. Whole Foods is great, but can get a bit pricey when the right things are not on sale. Farmer's markets are awesome, and fun to peruse, but we can't get to them frequently enough to get all the produce we need. Plus, CSA have the added benefit of the community of members along with the farmers.

It seems lots of people were reaching the same conclusion, and no CSAs were accepting additional members, so joining Brooklyn Beet was a no-brainer.

We opted into a full share of vegetables, which come from the Angel Family Farm in Goshen, NY. The veggies are not certified organic, but they are grown pesticide-free. (Besides, as Mark Bittman has pointed out in the New York Times, "certified organic" means less and less.) I've read that the farm is featured in the documentary What's On Your Plate, but I have not yet seen the film. The family was at the initial sign-up meeting, and they seemed enthusiastic.

And went for a full share of fruit, from Hepworth Farms. This farm is also up the Hudson, in Milton, but has been around for much longer. Amy Hepworth, an interesting personality, is a seventh generation farmer, and her farm has been around since 1818. Amy was also at the sign-up meeting - she said she had cleaned her fingernails for the event. Word on the street is that their fruit is amazing, so I can't wait. (Photo from NY Mag)

We'll be picking up our share just a few blocks away at the YWCA, and the fun begins in just a few weeks. I'll be posting about the food that comes in, the recipes that come to mind, and the meals that come out.

Also, our baby girl, Sydney, will start eating solids very soon. I'll be making much of her food from the goods we pick of from the CSA. I'll be posting comments and notes about this as well.

Leftover fruits and vegetables - if there are any - will be pickled or jammed... stay tuned! ...If your interested.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sydney & Friends

Here's a rather large gallery of Sydney with some of the many interesting people she has met. Can you pick out The Transvestite Spock?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sydney Makes Her Demands

Sydney is 4 months old, and she has decided to make her needs clear:

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Wednesday, May 06, 2009