Andrea Harner
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February 28, 2005

Oscar Party 2005!

How to be good Oscar Party hosts brought to you by Andrea & Jonah:

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*Good viewing. You must use a projector, God's greatest gift to this earth:

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Check out projector power - This really isn't fair of me to put Kathy Griffin up against Sparky just to demonstrate this point:

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The boys always choose Sparky over Kathy:

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*Enough seating. Living room turned home theater with seating for all!

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*Be prepared for that one guest who shows up early and sneaks in a "Reserved VIP" sign!

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Duncan isn't a tenured professor for nothing!

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*Good drinks a aplenty! Jonah is a man of many talents however we found his true calling last night - rum punch maker. Recipe in the spirit of the Open Source movement: Strawberries, oranges, blackberries, mangos, fresh fruit juices, good rum and dry champagne:

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Here's the cutest person in the world sampling his creation. It's still delicious as I drink it now!

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*Appropriate reading material must be assembled and displayed within easy reach for quick conversation starters. The bobble headed Arnold is the special touch that brings it all together:

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*Dress the part. Even if no one else does and you're quickly becoming that delusional friend who thinks she's at the Oscars, you must be true to the glamourous integrity of the Oscars:

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*Betting opportunities. Human beings are competitive and money hungry. Work with that. In the end, no one guessed that it would be such a sweep for Million Dollar Baby! Go Clint!!

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*Let your guest have a crazy eyes moment. Sally Rumble, ladies and gentlemen:

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*In the name of art, harass your too cute guest into picture after picture...Lily Whitall in front of a Cory Arcangel poster:

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End of hosting lesson but continued fun!

It was a little wierd when Sean Penn and Hilary Swank got in that tug of war with the Oscar, wasn't it?

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Hilary, Hilary, Hilary...you did it again!! I didn't know you grew up in a trailer. Was that really you or Mo Cuishle? All I know is that you are: A phenomenal actress. Classy. Solid. Good person - I can tell. Look like a horse but in a beautiful way.

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Johnny Depp is still the hottest...even fuzzy and in wierdo clothing...although...Orlando Bloom, I've caught on to your star quality!!

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Ok, we get it! YOU'RE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN ON EARTH.

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Prince was the highlight of the Oscars and is the highlight of this world. He strutted all 5 feet of his fine ass self onto stage in a purple blazer, pink pants and pink heels:

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Now, back to planning for Oscar Party 2006!!

February 25, 2005

Colonial Paradise

Check it out - my Dad's new home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia while working on a two-year project.

From $39 a day???!!! AndreaHarner.com is investigating blog studio set ups out of Colonial Mansion...

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February 24, 2005

The Theory That Self-Interest Is the Sole Motivator Is Self-Fulfilling

A good NY Times article on a very interesting topic...

February 23, 2005

How to Good-Bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way?

Why didn't I ever think of this? Stupid, stupid me! Well I'm giving it a go and so far so good and constricted! 34, 35, 36...

Only 1 left in stock!!! Who'll be the lucky depressed friend to receive your your LOL/insensitive gift?!

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and yes, of course, this is a Japanese creation.

February 22, 2005

The Gates & The Other Gates

Here are the original Gates in Central Park. Made for $20 million, they still look like shower curtains or train window curtains and as many times as the artists say they're saffron, they're still orange. They have however provided a nice bonding experience for New Yorkers for which I'm grateful:

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And here are the other Gates, biaaatch! Made for $3.50 here's the Somerville Gates story.

Click on the little gates for more little gates:

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Where do you stand on the Gates??

February 21, 2005

Andrea & Surfer Man in Costa Rica

It's not everyday that you meet and fall in love with a super hero...while in Costa Rica, I met and fell in love with Surfer Man!

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Jonah fights the telemarketers!

~ring ring~

Caller ID says: Arizona

Jonah picks up and says: Arizona Better Business Bureau, how can I help you?

Arizona hangs up.

~ring ring~

Caller ID says: MCI

Jonah picks up and says: ATT Wireless, how can I help you?

MCI hangs up.

:-)

February 18, 2005

Toby the Rabbit needs to be removed from his owner!!

Please don't give $ to this guy!!!

Toby the victim:

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February 17, 2005

People really are sheep!

SPIRITS OF THE TIMES; A Humble Old Label Ices Its Rivals
By ERIC ASIMOV (NYT) 1889 words
Published: January 26, 2005

IT was not exactly a victory for the underdog, but chalk it up as a triumph of the unexpected.

The idea for the Dining section's tasting panel was to sample a range of the new high-end unflavored vodkas that have come on the market in the last few years in their beautifully designed bottles and to compare them with a selection of established super-premium brands. To broaden the comparison, or possibly as a bit of mischief, our tasting coordinator, Bernard Kirsch, added to our blind tasting a bottle of Smirnoff, the single best-selling unflavored vodka in the United States, but a definite step down in status, marketing and bottle design.

After the 21 vodkas were sipped and the results compiled, the Smirnoff was our hands-down favorite.

Shocking? Perhaps. Delving into the world of vodka reveals a spirit unlike almost any other, with standards that make judging it substantially different from evaluating wine, beer, whiskey or even root beer. A malt whiskey should be distinctive, singular. The same goes for a Burgundy or a Belgian ale. But vodka? Vodka is measured by its purity, by an almost Platonic neutrality that makes tasting it more akin to tasting bottled waters, or snowflakes.

Yet in just a few decades vodka has become the most popular spirit in the country. It is now the default liquor in cocktails once made with gin, and with its glossy merchandising it has set a marketing standard for high-end spirits that the other liquors are all struggling to emulate. It's quite an achievement for something that the government defines as ''neutral spirits, so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color.''

A lack of distinctiveness is a separate matter from a lack of distinction. The vodkas we tasted had character and their own flavors and aromas, even though the differences among them were often subtle and difficult to articulate.

''I'm looking for interest,'' said Eben Klemm, a cocktail expert who joined me for the tasting, along with my colleagues Florence Fabricant and William L. Hamilton, who writes the Shaken and Stirred column for the Sunday Styles section. ''Some were so unique that they stood out,'' he added, ''while others were pure, simple and austere.''

Mr. Klemm, whose heady title is director of cocktail development for B.R. Guest, a restaurant group that includes Dos Caminos, Fiamma and Vento in New York, found himself torn in two directions in assessing the vodkas. Because we tasted them straight, he judged them as solo beverages yet could not help extrapolating how they would taste in cocktails, which are overwhelmingly the vehicle for consuming vodka.

Mr. Hamilton, too, wondered whether his perceptions might change. ''When deployed in mixed drinks, these slight flavor profiles that I enjoyed might cause trouble,'' he said.

Ms. Fabricant, on the other hand, dismissed such existential issues. ''Go with the flow,'' she suggested, adding that the qualities she sought in the vodkas included elegance, neutrality and balance. ''As a vodka drinker who likes vodka on the rocks, I picked out what I would want to drink,'' she said.

I'm not much of a vodka drinker myself, although I do like a good bloody mary. I prefer gin in classic gin drinks like martinis and gimlets that have largely evolved into vodka cocktails. But I appreciate the purity and depth of a fine vodka. Those I liked best were all smooth rather than harsh, and balanced and harmonious rather than burdened by alcoholic heat. They had a presence in the mouth that we sometimes referred to as texture or substance.

That being said, at the end of our tasting it was Smirnoff at the top of our list, ahead of many other names that are no doubt of higher status in stylish bars and lounges. Some of those names did not even make our Top 10. Grey Goose from France, one of the most popular vodkas, was felt to lack balance and seemed to have more than a touch of sweetness. Ketel One from the Netherlands, another top name, was felt to be routine and sharp, although Mr. Klemm did describe it as ''a good mixer.''

More than 300 vodkas are on the market now, and of course we could not taste them all. Notable brands that we omitted included Chopin, Finlandia, Rain and Tanqueray Sterling. But our tasting included 5 of the 10 best-selling unflavored vodkas in the United States and the 5 best-selling imported vodkas.

What set Smirnoff apart, we agreed, was its aromas and flavors, which we described as classic. Smirnoff of course has a long history. The company was founded in Russia in the 19th century, and after the Russian Revolution the family, then spelling its name Smirnov, left the country and eventually ended up in France. The brand, now owned by Diageo, was introduced in the United States in 1934 and eventually became the best-selling brand with the slogan ''It will leave you breathless.''

Perhaps our description of Smirnoff as classic was nostalgic, possibly a result of the imprinting of its flavors and aromas on our brains in some early quest through our parents' liquor cabinets. But its smooth neutrality and pleasing texture also won it points, and its success illustrates a vital truth about vodka.

Unlike most other spirits and certainly unlike beer and wine, vodka does not necessarily benefit from artisanal manufacturing. The bearded bumpkin who minds the barrels in the ad campaigns for bourbon has no place in the production of vodka. In fact most so-called vodka producers do not even distill their own spirits.

In the United States almost all vodka producers buy neutral spirits that have already been distilled from grain by one of several big Midwestern companies like Archer Daniels Midland. The neutral spirits, which are 95 percent alcohol or more, are trucked to the producers, where they are filtered, diluted and bottled. In our tasting only one brand, Teton Glacier Potato vodka, was distilled by the producer. Another producer, Hangar 1, distills a portion of its spirits and buys the rest.

What sets vodkas apart from one another are essentially the base ingredients used in the distillation and the water. Most spirits can be made only from certain prescribed ingredients, but vodka can be distilled from just about anything that can be fermented into alcohol: grains, vegetables, even fruits.

Our tasting included vodkas made from wheat, rye and potatoes, even a couple that used grapes. Hangar 1 is distilled partly from wheat and partly from viognier grapes, which perhaps lend the slight sweetness the panel detected. Possibly the combination results in a complexity, which we all liked. Another vodka, CÓroc Snap Frost from France, is distilled entirely from grapes, but we sensed a disjointedness in it that kept it off our list.

Like gin, vodka can be produced just about anywhere, and our tasting included four from the United States; four from Poland; three each from Russia, France and the Netherlands; and one apiece from Switzerland, Estonia, New Zealand and Sweden. Russia and Poland both claim to be the originators of vodka. None of the Russians made our list, but two of our Top 3 were from Poland. The Wyborowa, which comes in a striking bottle designed by the architect Frank Gehry, was elegant and mysterious and seemed to keep drawing us in. The Belvedere was exceptionally pure and smooth.

All four entries from the United States made the list. In addition to Smirnoff and Hangar 1 they were Skyy, which Ms. Fabricant suggested would be superb ice cold, and Teton Glacier Potato vodka, which seemed to conform to the government definition of tasteless and odorless.

While we chose to focus on unflavored vodkas those blended in the factory with flavorings like lemon, black pepper and even chocolate may be the fastest-growing category of all. Given the government definition of vodka, the success of such flavored vodkas may raise the philosophical question one day of exactly what constitutes a vodka.

The prices of these vodkas ranged from a low of $13 for the Smirnoff to a high of $34 for Potocki, a Polish vodka that did not make our cut. The Belvedere also cost $34, but that was for a liter rather than the usual 750 milliliter bottle. Imported vodkas tend to cost more, partly because of taxes levied by various governments, currency exchange rates and, not least, marketing concerns: as has been proved in many industries, wine not least of all, raising the price of a product increases its status among consumers.

Possibly with that in mind Stolichnaya has just introduced a new vodka, Elit, for $60 a bottle. Because Elit was not available in New York at our tasting, the panel did not sample it. Its marketers say it is ''carefully crafted using a centuries-old Russian recipe and a revolutionary 'freeze filtration process.''' The bottle is certainly sleek. What's inside may be another matter.

Tasting Report: In the Best-Selling Category, a Best Seller Stands Out

BEST VALUE
Smirnoff United States Grain $13
[Rating: Three Stars]
80 proof
Pure, clean and ultrasmooth, with pleasing texture and classic vodka aroma.

Wyborowa Poland Single Estate Rye $30
[Rating: Three Stars]
80 proof 1 liter
Elegant and intriguing, with mild flavors and great persistence.

Belvedere Poland Rye $34
80 proof 1 liter
[Rating: Three Stars]
Great smoothness and purity, with good texture and body.

Absolut Sweden Level Grain $24
80 proof
[Rating: Two and a Half Stars]
Smooth and substantial, with flavors of flowers, lemon grass or nuts.

Hangar 1 United States $30
Straight Wheat and Grain
[Rating: Two and a Half Stars]
80 proof
Pleasing, with complex flavors and a suggestion of sweetness.

Vox Netherlands Wheat $23
80 proof
[Rating: Two and a Half Stars]
Smooth and neutral, with savory flavors and a touch of alcoholic heat.

Olifant Netherlands Grain $17
80 proof
[Rating: Two Stars]
1 liter
Subtle, yet rich and complex.

42 Below New Zealand Wheat $24
84 proof
[Rating: Two Stars]
Straightforward, pure and smooth.

Skyy United States Grain $16
80 proof
[Rating: Two Stars]
1 liter
Unusual flavors of mint and lime.

Teton Glacier United States Potato $20
80 proof 1 liter
[Rating: Two Stars]
Clean and light on the palate; odorless and tasteless.

WHAT THE STARS MEAN
(None) Pass it by
* Passable
** Good
*** Excellent
**** Extraordinary

Ratings reflect the panel's reactions to the vodkas, which were tasted with names concealed. The panelists this week are Eric Asimov, Florence Fabricant, William L. Hamilton and Eben Klemm, director of cocktail development for the B.R. Guest restaurants. The tasted vodkas represent a selection generally available in good retail shops and restaurants. Prices are those paid in liquor shops in the New York region.

Tasting Coordinator: Bernard Kirsch
nytimes.com

Recent wine columns from the New York Times are online: nytimes.com/wine. This week, members of the panel discuss their favorite vodkas.

Photos: SIPS DON'T LIE -- In a blind tasting of 21 vodkas, Smirnoff was
favored over newer brands. (Photo by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times)(pg. F1); PRETTY BOTTLES, BUT ... Differences among the vodkas that were tasted were subtle, but each nevertheless had a distinctive flavor and aroma. (Photo by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times)(pg. F8)

Copyright 2005

February 15, 2005

Cat Naps Are Cute!!!

Catnapping just entered a whole new level of crazy cuteness.

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Thanks to Jodi for the link!!

February 14, 2005

~Harshing My Mellow~

While in Costa Rica this past week I learned an important life lesson: I don't like people or situations harshing my mellow.

Here's John the orchestrator of the Costa Rica retreat, demonstrating a mellow...his fingers are interlocked with his wife and partner in crime Susan who knows that John doesn't like his mellow harshed either...who really does anyway?

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February 5, 2005

Modern Pooch Guest Blogger!

Be sure to check out Modern Pooch as guest blogger, funny lady and dog lover Chelsea Peretti will be taking the doggy reins from me for one week...I'll see you and the doggs in a week!

February 4, 2005

I'll be in Costa Rica for a week with this guy

I really don't think it's my fault. I gave Perry a gift in a Bliss bag and there was a banana in reach and this is what happened.

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We're off tonight to Nosara, Costa Rica for a one week work retreat!! / I'm accompanying Perry in search of a rare Costa Rican banana...

February 3, 2005

Nobody Knows

Last night I saw a screening of Nobody Knows and all I know is that this is a beautiful, crushing movie, truly worth seeing. It opens in theaters tomorrow...I can only hope and dream of ever being involved in such a terrific film!

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Warren Buffet Wisdom

I love, love love this.

A Blogger learns from Warren Buffet.

via Kottke.org.

February 2, 2005

02.02.05

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February 1, 2005

28 year old girl killed on Lower East Side.

This is so fucked up.

I just want to go on the record as saying I will never say to a mugger, "What are you going to do, shoot us?"

:-(

Happy Birthday Harmony Davis!!!

You're the best cousin & friend ever and I love you truly...

I'm a really good cousin so that's why I won't just post this photo of you with a cold...

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I also have the heart to post this sexy pic...

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Happy Birthday Harmonious!!!

How Q Found Her Groove

The draw of New York City for Japanese youth and older.

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Personally I am so grateful for the slice of home-Japan that exists in my new home-New York City!

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