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Quote of the Day – I agree with this one…

“I don’t think it would have made the difference. But it’s kind of like Thanksgiving at your in-laws. If you go, it doesn’t guarantee it’s going to be fun, but if you don’t go there’s going to be hell to pay.”

Paul Begala, quoted by CNN, saying it was a mistake for President Obama to skip campaigning in Wisconsin.

Of course, I find myself often agreeing with Paul Begala… and I wish more Democrats would listen to him.

Two weeks of moving start today…

Elly and Me?

We closed on our “farmette” on Friday, and now we will spend the next two weeks moving, emptying the townhouse and getting it ready for sale (say, are you looking for a nice townhouse in Shepherdstown, WV? Let me know.)

Home for Chicks

The thought of entering a life as somewhat of a farmer has been entering my consciousness as I plan to repair the very old chicken house on the property so we can go out in April (or earlier) to get a dozen or so live chicks. Sure looking forward to eggs by the end of the summer.

If this makes the blog come out at odd times of the day in the next week or so (no internet connected to the new house yet) then we will have to live with it.

Oh, the Holidays…

You know it’s the Christmas season when you notice in your spam mail that they are giving you a “holiday discount” on Viagra. I’m not sure whether it’s for me to use in my holiday celebrating, or if it’s a gift for one of my mail relatives who are having secret troubles “getting it up” (in which case, how would I know?).

It all boils down to this being purchasing season. We just passed Black Friday with a number of reports on fighting in stores (one shooting that was on the news) and crowds lining up before midnight on Thanksgiving to give thanks for early openings.

Stores, of course, make a large percent of their annual revenue this month, sales or none, and folks everywhere lower their bank totals or pay out most of their Social Security checks on things that the receivers will often never use. We hear that sales will be lower this year than last do to the Recession which “ended” last summer. People have less income and are counting on the 1% to keep up the Christmas shopping totals.

Perhaps they won’t let us down this time.

Just a comment on belief… atheists can be thankful,too.

Someone asked me how I could be thankful on Thanksgiving with no belief in a creator on high.

It’s time to reveal a reality: Atheists can be thankful,too.

We don’t thank a holy individual.

We thank our families and our friends and the celebrated and the anonymous.

We are thankful for good things that have happened to us and thankful just to be alive and surviving in the great wide world.

We are thankful to have a means of expression (like this blog, or community theatre plays, or radio shows, or art, or the basic freedom of speech.)

We are thankful that we can share all these things with each other and hope to continue to for years to come.

See? It’s not hard to conceive of a thankful atheist. It’s much harder for us to conceive of an invisible deity pulling the strings.


Just got back from WSHC…

Hard to believe, but I substituted for John Case on this mornings Winners and Losers show on WSHC radio. Thankfully, Shepherd U. police came over to unlock the door at Knutti Hall and let me into the studio, where I spent the morning playing Thanksgiving songs (mostly about Turkeys) and talking about what I was thankful for.

At 2:00 we’ll be over at my Daughter Penny’s for Thanksgiving dinner. However, right now I’m watching the Macy’s Parade, which I try never to miss (back when I lived in NYC, I always tried to see it live and in person… a great event.)

Shepherdstown is pretty dead right now… most of the students from Shepherd are home for the weekend and most of the businesses are closed. No street parking problems, though… just nowhere to go.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Be kind to an Indian today… and apologetic.

And don’t go to any stores that start Black Friday today. They are un-American.

Here’s to everyone’s families on Thanksgiving Eve…

Tomorrow, families everywhere will be getting together to enjoy Thanksgiving, and I think it is Families we should be most thankful for.

Locally, Elly and I are going over to my daughter Penny’s to have delicious locally raised heirloom turkey with her and her three boys. Not all of our family will be there… but we all got together last Saturday (from as far away as Wisconsin and Connecticut and Virginia) for Elly’s surprise birthday party over at the Entler Hotel (one of our historic sites) in Shepherdstown. So many came in that they couldn’t all afford to get here tomorrow… but we did get to see everyone during the week.

So enjoy your family tomorrow and be good to each other.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Holiday Is Here…

In 1860, American artist and illustrator Winslow Homer did a cover for Harpers Weekly depicting “The Two Great Classes” at Thanksgiving, the Rich and the Poor. This was made when the country was getting over the Depression of 1857 and rolling inevitably toward what would become the Civil War. I’m not sure Homer was very impressed with Thanksgiving where some had “more Dinners than Appetite” and some had “more Appetite than Dinners.” In a way, we are there again.

This cartoon picked up at All Hat, No Cattle:

Read the rest of this entry

OK…”Thurber Carnival” is over and the stage has been cleared off.

And we’re all putting things away or getting them stacked in places to be carried home by the various owners who donated props and furniture. Shutting down the light booth was about the easiest part of the gig. Those that eat pizza (the non-vegans) are eating the delivery from Dominoes and things are winding down all over.

I don’t think I’ll be working another show until February… I’m not going to work on “Christmas Carol” in November as I have some conflicts (it opens the day after Thanksgiving which is also the day after my Wife’s birthday and we will probably be making plans since she has a couple of days off from teaching at that time. Anyway, I’ve informed the powers that be that I won’t be doing lights in November.

Now I’m just waiting for John Case to give me a ride home… I know my dogs are waiting to be walked as Elly is out at a meeting and won’t be back for a couple of more hours. I’m sure they’ll be jumping all over the place when I get back.

Light Booth Pre-Show

Getting everything ready as the audience starts to come in. Checked my e-mail and found I had a donation to the Under The LobsterScope operating fund from a reader in New Hampshire… so I, of course, immediately sent out the Bill’s Barnhart Ornaments font package (this month’s appreciation gift) by e-mail. The tile on the left is a Barnhart Ornament.

This is the first of the last three performances of Thurber Carnival… just tomorrow night and Sunday Matinee to go and it’s over. Not sure if I’ll be working on the next show here… I have some conflicts that they didn’t bother to ask me about… I guess they just assumed I’d be here. I much prefer it when people ask me in advance to work on their shows. This next one lands on Elly’s birthday and Thanksgiving week and I have lots of other things I’m involved with, like the Film Festival, during the rehearsal weeks. (That’s another Barnhart Ornament on the right.)

We’re at the 10 minute call and there are about eight people in the audience… I don’t know if there is a last minute rush out in the lobby, but one would hope. Oooops… it hit 11 as I write this.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Thanksgiving and Politics

Couldn’t make up my mind on these… so I’ll let you do it.

Tom Toles in the Washington Post:

So we know what THEY give thanks for…

– and –

Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Naaah.. those Republicans aren’t going to pass ANYTHING!

– and –

David Horsey in the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

…and this is where we leave American Capitalism…

Thanksgiving S & M

Somehow, the vegan in me found this hysterically funny (and about as sadistic as you can imagine)… WARNING: not for the squeamish…If you’re not into violent sexual deviance, do not go here:

Oh… and Happy Thanksgiving. I’m having Tofurky.

Did you get an e-mail from Obama?

This was in my e-mail box when Elly and I got home…

Bill —

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, Americans across the country will sit down together, count our blessings, and give thanks for our families and our loved ones.

American families reflect the diversity of this great nation. No two are exactly alike, but there is a common thread they each share.

Our families are bound together through times of joy and times of grief. They shape us, support us, instill the values that guide us as individuals, and make possible all that we achieve.

So tomorrow, I’ll be giving thanks for my family — for all the wisdom, support, and love they have brought into my life.

But tomorrow is also a day to remember those who cannot sit down to break bread with those they love.

The soldier overseas holding down a lonely post and missing his kids. The sailor who left her home to serve a higher calling. The folks who must spend tomorrow apart from their families to work a second job, so they can keep food on the table or send a child to school.

We are grateful beyond words for the service and hard work of so many Americans who make our country great through their sacrifice. And this year, we know that far too many face a daily struggle that puts the comfort and security we all deserve painfully out of reach.

So when we gather tomorrow, let us also use the occasion to renew our commitment to building a more peaceful and prosperous future that every American family can enjoy.

It seems like a lifetime ago that a crowd met on a frigid February morning in Springfield, Illinois to set out on an improbable course to change our nation.

In the years since, Michelle and I have been blessed with the support and friendship of the millions of Americans who have come together to form this ongoing movement for change.

You have been there through victories and setbacks. You have given of yourselves beyond measure. You have enabled all that we have accomplished — and you have had the courage to dream yet bigger dreams for what we can still achieve.

So in this season of thanks giving, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to you, and my anticipation of the brighter future we are creating together.

With warmest wishes for a happy holiday season from my family to yours,

President Barack Obama

…and I hope your family has a lovely Thanksgiving as well. (Don’t you think it would be lovelier if you just ended the armed presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and brought everyone home now? We’d all give thanks to you… and you will have earned your Nobel Peace Prize.)

….and I got this from Franni and Al Franken:

Dear Bill,

First and foremost, a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from the Franken Family! As many of you know, apart from spending some quality (and quantity) time with the family, Thanksgiving at our house is all about the food.

That being the case, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few of our favorite recipes with all of you, so you can try them out if you’re looking for any additions to your menu. Now, it’s important for you all to know, these family recipes have been meticulously honed over time. I can say with the utmost confidence, the recipes below are definite winners.

And it’s not just the Frankens who think so!

Thomasin posted these to our campaign website in 2007 and got TONS of feedback from people who gave them a try and were rewarded with delicious results. So while some of you may have tried these in the past, our list of supporters has grown so much since then, we wanted to send them out again for everyone to enjoy.

It would make sense to make this an annual tradition, with new ideas heading your way next year, but that’s not going to happen. Al has already informed me that changing the Thanksgiving menu is NOT change he can believe in.

All the best,


It is impossible to just have one piece. Be sure to make it the night before so you can have some with your Thanksgiving morning coffee.

2 cups cornmeal
2 cups white flour
1 cup sugar
2 tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. On the first speed of a hand or standing mixer, beat together the eggs, oil, pumpkin puree, and milk.
4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry in three batches with a rubber spatula. The batter will be smooth, and is more fluffy than liquidy.
5. Pour the batter into a 9 by13 baking pan (or two loaf pans), and place in the middle rack of the oven.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick stuck in the middle of the cornbread comes out dry.
7. Let the cornbread cool for ten minutes, and then cut into pieces and serve.

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 in. cubed chunks
3 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small chunks, plus more for greasing the pan
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbs. light brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Grease a cookie sheet, and scatter the squash chunks on it.
3. Evenly spread out the chunks of butter among the squash, and sprinkle the cinnamon and brown sugar evenly on the squash.
4. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender. You can poke the squash with a cake tester, a fork, or a small knife to test.

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 in. cubed chunks.
3 tbs. unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring the butternut squash chunks to boil in a saucepan.
2. Turn the heat down to medium, and let cook until the squash is tender, approximately ten to fifteen minutes.
3. Drain the squash, and mash with a masher or a hand mixer.
4. Add the butter and salt and pepper to taste.

It’s great alone, but Thomasin loves mixing it up with peas, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

1 lb. Wild rice (Mahnomen)
one stick butter
ten cloves of garlic
3 medium sized yellow onions
4 stalks of celery
2 lbs. White button mushrooms
salt to taste

1. In a colander, rinse the wild rice.
2. Put the rice in a pot, and cover with 3 inches of water. Boil in a pot, uncovered, for about 20 to 25 minutes. If you’re using Mahnomen wild rice, it will cook more quickly than the paddy variety.
3. While the rice is boiling, slice (do not mince) the mushrooms, onions, garlic, and celery.
4. Melt the butter in a skillet, and sauté the onions, garlic, and celery until they begin to bleed a little liquid into the butter. Then add the mushrooms. The celery and onions should not be totally soft.
5. Once the rice has cooked, drain it and add to the sautéed vegetables.
6. Add salt to taste, and stuff into the turkey before roasting. The rest can be eaten as a side dish at dinner.

This is my favorite use of left over turkey.

2 slices of rye bread
1 tsp unsalted whipped butter
turkey breast
2 iceberg lettuce leaves
salt to taste

1. Spread unsalted whipped butter on the rye bread.
2. Sprinkle on salt.
3. Place turkey and lettuce on top of one piece of bread, and place the other piece of bread on top.
4. Slice in half and enjoy!

That’s what I like… a practical Thanksgiving letter… and my best wishes to the Frankens.

Two days until Thanksgiving… here are some Vegetarian recipes…

I found these on Dr. Ayala’s blog at Salon… so CLICK HERE and get some wonderful vegetarian recipes, and spare the Turkey!

And knowing that this is Thanksgiving Week, we sure could use a little good news (or so Anne Murray says):

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving…

This compliments of the Florida Progressive Coalition Blog:

clipped from

Have you thanked a Republican today?

Report: 10 States Face Looming Budget Disaster

Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin join California as those most at risk of fiscal calamity, according to the report by the Pew Center on the States.

Double-digit budget gaps, rising unemployment, high home foreclosure rates and built-in budget constraints are the key reasons.

The analysis urged lawmakers and governors in those states to take quick action to head off a wider economic catastrophe.

blog it

A Sunday Vegan Cooking Experiment

I’ll admit, as a newly minted Vegan, I’m not looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. As usual, we are going over to my daughter Penny’s house where she applies the Restaurant training she had at Cornell to dinner (she’s a great cook) and especially to a large Turkey.

Elly and I debated on whether we could get through the dinner by just eating the veggies and were getting even more worried about breaking the pledge. Then, in my reading, I came across an article on Tofurky, a tofu-based turkey substitute stuffed with wild rice and with a vegan gravy.

p_recipes_tofurkyfeastYou can buy a Tofurky Feast, which is quite large and comes with some extras like dumplings and Tofurky strips for nibbling. Or you can just by the smaller, dinner for 2 Tofurkey roast. So, today I am experimenting with that size, surrounding it as it roasts with carrots, potatoes and onions as it says to do on the package directions.

If we like this, we’ll make the Tofurky Feast and bring it along to Penny’s on Thanksgiving Day.

Just an hour to go… then I’ll whip up the gravy and we try it out. Fingers crossed.

(Tofurky is a registered trademark of Turtle Island Foods in Oregon)



The Tofurky is terrific! Best Sunday Dinner we’ve had in a long time. My wife and I are now planning other ways we can serve this wonderful stuff.

If you get a chance to try it let me know what you think of it.