Category: Raves

John James Audubon, murderer of children.

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

I started this post on my birthday, but it was shelved shortly thereafter when Jayne, always with the excellent timing, ate my book. $7 and a used copy later, and I’m back in business!

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So this is pretty cool. The very first piece in My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales casts John James Audubon (yes, that John James Audubon) as the story’s villain: the embodiment of evil, Audubon is a mass murderer of birds – and a child-killer, to boot (the titular pelican child is but one of his many countless victims).

Joy Williams, the author of “Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child,” explains the origins of her story:

When I was doing some research for a book on the Florida Keys some twenty years ago, I discovered that John James Audubon, despite his revered status, was a great slaughterer of birds. (Perhaps everyone was aware of this.) He killed tirelessly for pleasurable sport and would wipe out entire mangrove islands of its inhabitants because…well, because I guess it was easy once he got started. I do hope the curse of history will catch up with him. Perhaps Baba Iaga will be the great facilitator in that regard.

By story’s end, the anti-hero has taken to the skies, shining a magical lamp on everyone she meets, illuminating that which they’d rather not see – namely, the “humanity” present in all animals, not just those of the human variety:

[…] Baba Iaga continued to fly through the skies in her mortar, navigating with her pestle. But instead of a broom, she carried the lamp that illuminated the things people did not know or were reluctant or refused to understand. And she would lower the lamp over a person and they would see how extraordinary were the birds and beasts of the world, and that they should be valued for their bright and beautiful and mysterious selves and not willfully harmed for they were more precious than castles or the golden rocks dug out from the earth. [More so, actually. – ed.]

But she could reach only a few people each day with the lamp.

Once, seven people experienced its light but usually it was far less. It would take thousands of years, tens of thousands perhaps, to reach all the human beings with the light.

Baba Iaga came home one evening – so tired – and she gathered her little family around her, the pelican child and the dog and the cat and said, My dear ones, I still have magic and power unrealized. Do you wish to become human beings, for some think you are under a hellish spell. Do you want to become human? The dog and the cat spoke. The pelican child had not spoken since the day of her return.

The dog and the cat said – well, I won’t tell you what they said.

But I will tell you this: I cried.

Vegan Shoe Shopping @ Zappos!

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Before we begin, allow me to share this visual approximation of myself, shoe shopping:


Simply replace the hair brush with a suede-covered shoe and BAM! The resemblance is uncanny. (FYI: This is also my “FEED ME, I’M HUUUU NGRY!” face. You’ve been warned.)

Shoe shopping is bad enough on its own, but it’s especially tedious as a vegan. Is it just me, or are there fewer vegan options available in local, brick and mortar shoe stores than just a decade ago? Maybe it’s not fair to make comparisons, since I grew up in New York and now live in the Midwest, but still. EVERYTHING IS LEATHER!

When the soles finally bottomed out of my cheap synthetic sneaks, I hit up the chain stores in search of a replacement. I searched far and wide, north of the city and south, throughout all of spring and summer and even into the fall. Finding but a handful of options, I finally settled for a pair of cheap $20 synthetic sneaks from Target. I wore them maybe a dozen times before I realized that the chafing and pinching and general discomfort wasn’t going to go away with use. Back to the drawing board. And, in the meantime, sneakers duct taped together. That’s how I roll, people.

Anyway, an interview with Zappos’ C.E.O. Tony Hsieh on The Colbert Report piqued my interest. They have a generous return policy which includes free shipping – both ways – as well as a year to return unwanted, unused items for a full refund. Unbelievable, right? I’ve always been a little suspicious. Too good to be true and all that jazz. But I seriously needed some new shoes, and the free shipping dealio is perfect for someone who rejects 90% of the shoes she tries on (which is why I’d been avoiding online stores up to this point), so I decided to try it out.

I started by searching for vegan sneaks – easy enough, since there’s a dedicated category for vegan shoes on the site (look in the left-hand column, under “specialty”) – and quickly narrowed it down to three choices: the ASICS GEL-Euphoria® Plus; the Kalso Earth Glide Vegan; and the Saucony Originals Jazz Low Pro Vegan. Since I’m unsure of my shoe size, I bought two pairs of each, in a size 7 and a 7.5. All told, my order came out to $407.98. (Eeeks!)

Long story short: I ended up keeping two pairs (a size 7 in each the Saucony Jazz and Kalso Earth) and returned the other four (the larger Saucony Jazz and Kalso Earth, as well as both pairs of Asics, which weren’t terribly comfortable and seemed to be poorly made). I hung onto all six pairs of shoes for more than a month before reaching a decision (so anal!), and even wore the Kalso Earth sneaks around the house for few days to try ’em out. (The “negative heel” “technology” took a little getting used to.)

When it came time to return over half my order, all went smoothly. The process is automated; simply log into your account, access the order you’d like to return, and then follow the instructions from there. Zappos sent me a return shipping label via email immediately and issued a refund promptly – I think the money was back in my account less than a week after I dropped the package off at UPS. The entire refund came to $274.99, no quibbling necessary. Yay!

So yeah, this skeptic is sold. Assuming they add some more vegan shoes to their selection (it’s okay but hardly outstanding), I’d definitely shop there again. The only major downside is that you have to have enough money to put up for the initial order, which of course not everyone does. And the free return shipping is option is only available in the US, so there’s that.

Anyway, I reviewed both of my new purchases on Amazon – so rather than reinvent the Vegg, I just copied and pasted ’em below. You know the deal: hop on over to Amazon and vote my reviews helpful, pretty please with Dandies on top, and only if you’re so inclined. As you can imagine, my vegan reviews don’t always fare well on mainstream sites. Slaters gonna slate.


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(More below the fold…)

Vegan Junk Food Cookbook Review: Riots, not diets!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold (2011)


five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food is my new favorite cookbook. (The previous title holder? Wheeler del Torro’s The Vegan Scoop – which should tell you a little sumthin’ sumthin’! Namely, that I like my vegan food filled with empty calories.) At my request, I was lucky enough to receive a review copy – along with two copies to give away – from the publisher, Adams Media. With a name like “Vegan Junk Food,” I figured it couldn’t disappoint.

Whether you like your junk food sweet or savory, chocolaty or cheesy, Lane (can I call you Lane?) has got you covered. The 225 recipes in this collection are divided into ten categories: breakfast foods; deli favorites (i.e., sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and sliders); comfort-meets-takeout foods (entrees); crusts and carbs (pizzas and breads); festive grub (party foods!); dips, hummus, and sauces (including sundae toppings!); savory treats; cakes; candies and cookies; and grab ‘n’ go sweets (brownies and bars). As you can see, the recipes are roughly divided between meal-type items (entrees, main courses) and snacks/desserts.

The husband and I tried out about twenty recipes before I sat down to write this review; and, while I don’t usually review cookbooks, this is easily the largest number of recipes I’ve sampled for a cookbook review, like, ever. (I just couldn’t stop myself; everything looks so good!) Possibly it’s the most recipes I’ve made from a single cookbook, period. Though I own a ridiculous number of them, I don’t use cookbooks with much frequency; more often I cook from memory or pull recipes off the internet. But Vegan Junk Food? Most definitely joining my repertoire!

The book’s obvious strength, of course, is the food: oodles and oodles of junk food! Pizza. Pasta. Tacos. Pot pies. Casseroles. Cupcakes, pies, and brownies. Empty calories as far as the eye can see! Wait, that’s not entirely fair: some of these foods aren’t all that bad for you. Ironically, many of the recipes in Vegan Junk Food are actually healthier than my own versions. The Mac and Cheese Bake, for example, uses a vegan Velveeta-like cheese sauce made of potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, nutritional yeast, and soy milk. Even factoring in the additional vegan cheese shreds in this dish, it’s still way better for you than my own mac & cheese recipe, which is basically just pasta and processed vegan cheeses (namely, Daiya and Follow Your Heart). Don’t let the book’s title fool you: while these foods may look and taste like junk food, they’re not all super-trashy.

With options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, Vegan Junk Food is versatile. Mix and match the recipes for something new – or experiment to make them your own. For example, I used leftovers from some of the recipes to create new banana ice cream dishes!

While some of the recipes call for pricey vegan meats and cheeses, Gold doesn’t rely on these products exclusively. (Unlike the PPP blog, Vegan Junk Food doesn’t read like a Lightlife ad!) In fact, she offers diy recipes for many of these vegan staples so you can make ’em your own bad self, oftentimes at a fraction of the price! See, e.g., gravy (page 61); ricotta (pg. 120); sour cream (pg. 120); cheese sauce (pg. 121) basil pesto (pg. 124); and ranch dressing (pg. 126), to name just a few!

My complaints are few and relatively minor. Some recipes reference other recipes – to return to the Mac and Cheese Bake, the Cheese Sauce is its own recipe, located in a different section of the book – but don’t include a page number alongside the recipe title, thus forcing the reader to consult the index in order to find it. A minor annoyance, compounded by the index’s lack of user friendliness. (I find it counter-intuitive and difficult to use.) An estimated cook time and rating for difficulty on each dish would have been nice too, but I suppose both are easy enough to gauge by reading through the instructions.

I also ran into issues with two of the recipes – the Almond Joy Bar Cake and the Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion, and Hash Brown Quiche – which I’ll explain below. Still, out of twenty recipes, two small glitches? Not so bad! Especially when you consider my lackluster track record with baked goods. Brownies, why you no like me?

What follows is a run-down of all the dishes I’ve tried thus far. I’ve only tackled about half the items on my to-do list, so I’m far from done with this cookbook! I’ll post additional pictures as I take them, so keep an eye out for those.


  • Pesto Chicken Pizza with Creamy Garlic Sauce (page 85)

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    This was the first recipe we tried out, and quite possibly it’s also my favorite! The pureed white beans, seasoned with vegetable broth, nooch, and garlic, makes for a savory and filling pizza sauce, and the Basil Pesto is simple yet delicious. Enjoy this pizza with a fork and bib, though – it’s a messy one!

    (More below the fold…)

  • Small victories!

    Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

    Good news can be hard to come by in the animal advocacy community, which is why I want to share this little victory with y’all. It’s not much, but it’s more than enough to get me through today, and possibly the rest of the week as well.

    Over on the Kansas City Freecycle blog, I feature a local adoptable animal every Wednesday. (Elaine is my inspiration for this, but I don’t credit here there because I’d rather the other freecyclers not know that I’m one of “those” animal rights “extremists.” So I’ll totally credit her here. Thanks, Elaine!)

    I’ve been doing this since May of ’08, and a sweet lil’ pit bull named Gramby was the second animal I blogged about. Seven months later, and Gramby still hadn’t been adopted, so I featured him a second time. At this point, Gramby had been staying with Animal Haven, a no-kill shelter, for more than two years. Being a young guy, he’d essentially spent the majority of his life caged in a shelter. Many localities ’round these parts have passed BSL (he was found as a stray in a city with an anti-pit bull breed ban), which probably goes a long way towards explaining his sorry situation.


    Well, while clicking through the old listings this morning, searching for some hopefully happy updates, I was absolutely overjoyed (and that’s an understatement, for reals) too see that Gramby had finally been adopted. After almost 2 1/2 years as an orphan, Gramby has a new family. I’m so, so happy for him.

    In fact, Gramby’s adoption is such momentous news that Animal Haven blogged about it, too:

    Gramby was our longest term dog here at Animal Haven and was recently adopted. Gramby was found as a stray from a city with a breed ban on October 13th, 2006 when he was just a pup. Last week he was adopted out by a fantastic lady from Blue Springs. He has adjusted very well to life with his new mother and is having the time of his life now that he finally has his lifelong home. He even gets to cuddle with his mother’s baby granddaughter for nap time.

    And, what a wiggler he is too! Our ants-in-the-pants pal Gramby is always on the lookout for something interesting. Who can blame him? Gramby’s dedicated friends here at Animal taught him a few things before he went to his new lifelong home, and he’ll sit for a treat (though he likes to be sure it’s abundantly tasty).

    Animal Haven went all out to find him a new home; they even made Gramby their “mascot” for a fundraising event, featuring him on t-shirts and stuff. Even after all that, it was still more than a year before he was adopted. So sad.

    But no. This is good news. I refuse to get sniffly here.

    Thank you, thank you, THANK you, anonymous “fantastic lady from Blue Springs,” for opening your home and your heart to this “vicious” dog. For this, you are my hero of the day. And thank you, Animal Haven, for never giving up on this precious boy.

    *smiles*, {{hugs}}, and all that good stuff!

    (More below the fold…)

    He is so getting laid tonight.

    Sunday, July 1st, 2007

    The husband spent the weekend in Vegas for his brother’s bachelor party. He sent me the following series of IM’s last night. Swoon. My hero.

    (00:34:59) orzonal: hey
    (00:34:59) kgarbato : Sorry, you missed me!
    (00:35:47) orzonal: eh, brb, i need to get something to drink
    (00:41:54) orzonal: eh, you’re prolly sleeping
    (00:42:04) orzonal: had an interesting evening
    (00:42:35) orzonal: josh and his friends decided to go to the playboy club..couldn’t pay me to go there, so I took off, and was taking a walk around the casino
    (00:42:40) orzonal: outside
    (00:43:29) orzonal: so I pass this car in a handicap spot, and I notice a young woman trying to, what looked like to me, feed a dog in a car
    (00:43:56) orzonal: it looked a little fishy, but I thought maybe she was locked out or something and was trying to help her dog
    (00:44:16) orzonal: turns out it wasn’t hers, but she’d been there waiting with the dog for like 45 mins
    (00:44:34) orzonal: the bike security guys wouldn’t help her, so she was waiting with him
    (00:44:53) orzonal: he had plenty of air, and I don’t think he could have died of heat..but it was in a casino parking lot?
    (00:44:55) orzonal: !!
    (00:45:17) orzonal: the woman, before I got there, went inside and got a bowl and put a water dish for him in the back seat
    (00:45:20) orzonal: so..
    (00:45:37) orzonal: i took a snapshot with my phone of the license plate and went to the concierge
    (00:46:10) orzonal: they called security to go out there
    (00:46:16) orzonal: i went back to the car
    (00:46:22) orzonal: and waited to make sure security came
    (00:46:23) orzonal: they did
    (00:46:28) orzonal: with the old couple
    (00:46:41) orzonal: the woman who had been waiting just went off of the old couple
    (00:47:18) orzonal: at that point security asked the old couple to go home, and essentially kicked them out for the night


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    Related: IDA’s My Dog Is Cool campaign