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Reka Forgach

Paczki Day is a big one for the world’s Polish population

Grandma’s Paczki are a Mardi Gras favorite with everyone

Paczki is classic Polish consonant cluster for the fried rounds of yeast dough seasoned with rosehip, prune, apricot, strawberry, raspberry or sweet cheese filling.  Topped with some powdered sugar, Paczki are traditionally the last indulgence allowed Catholics before a grueling five weeks of abstinence, also known as Lent.  Like most Eastern-European pastries, Paczki are, without fail delicious, fattening and numerous in kind.  One does not simply eat just one paczek; indeed, the name itself carries a connotation of plurality, and five, six or seven is the least amount of respect you could give the Polish hospitality that is currently smothering you. 

Paczki tradition goes back to the late 1700’s, when a sweet toothed Polish ruler of the realm loved the pre-Lenten guilty snack so much he declared them the official Mardi Gras pastry.  They have since made it over to the New World relatively unchanged.  Ethnic Polish bakeries and markets often enjoy their busiest days of the year when paczki are in season.  One Chicago bakery has already reported this year’s stats.  “So far we have made 24,482,” says Stacia Hawryszczuk of Delightful Pastries, “I can feel by my hands. I know how many I make.”  How adorably busia-like of her to say.

If you don’t live in Poland, Chicago or Buffalo, there is a good chance you may not be surrounded by immediate access to this tasty treat.  Never fear, several recipes abound online with every version of paczki imaginable, although at the end of the day they are all somehow “grandma’s.”  Bake them, fry them, season them, keep them bland, eat them savory or sweet—it’s fried dough people, you’ve done this before.  After you’ve licked your lips and called it a day you best rid your house of paczki until Dyngus Day though, because it’s bread and water from then on out.

Ash Wednesday is a chance for the faithful to bid Pope Benedict XVI adieu

The end of Mardi Gras brings Ash Wednesday and Pope Benedict XVI’s dwindling days

Ash Wednesday is a big day for the faithful flock, but this year marks an especially monumental and emotional high holy day for the Catholic community, as Pope Benedict XVI leads one of his last services as the Supreme Pontiff.  Amid swirling rumors and lingering doubts over the reasons for his abdication, the spiritual leader has changed the location for his Ash Wednesday service to a larger church, in order to accommodate the anticipated crowd that will gather for their last moments with the aging Benedict.

Ash Wednesday shuts the festive carnival door on Mardi Gras and opens the austere wooden gates of Lent, a forty day practice in denial and self-reflection that prepares souls for Easter Sunday.  This year, Benedict will celebrate Ash Wednesday mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, before the 85-year-old steps down, possibly due to a specific health problem that has emerged since his announcement of abdication. Unbeknowst to the public, the pope underwent a secret surery three months ago to replace the batteries in his pacemaker.  Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi denounced the dire import of the surgery, and brushed it off as “routine replacement” and nothing more.

Ash Wednesday finds the church and Catholics abuzz, with interesting consequences.  As the College of Cardinals scrambles to pick the next successor, protocol questions on the status of the soon-to-be ex-pontiff abound.  What will Benedict’s status be after his official resignation? Will he continue to be called His Holiness?  Meanwhile, Catholics seem to be so busy that certain priests are offering a drive-through option on Ash Wednesday. Yes, the faithful can literally drive up to get their ashes at a window before speeding off to complete the daily grind.  How’s that for keeping up with the times?

Steve Martin is sick of just “playing Dad”

Steve Martin has successfully parented either a boy, or a girl

Steve Martin has apparently decided that he has finally gotten enough practice as a Dad in movies and has made the big leap—at 67 he is a world-renown actor, comedian and first-time Dad.  Everyone is both surprised and incredibly pleased for the actor and his 41-year-old wife and “It’s Complicated” co-star Anne Stringfield.  In fact, Steve Martin hasn’t even released an official announcement that he has a baby—journalists simply saw Steve Martin and Stringfield near their home in Los Angeles; both the baby’s gender or name is unknown, although Steve Martin’s rep confirmed the news to USA Today. 

Steve Martin seems like he is one of those people that is as quirky off screen as he is on.  This is not the first time the “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” star has kept a huge life event from the public eye.  In 2007, Steve Martin and Stringfield’s wedding was a surprise even to the guests, including Diane Keaton and Tom Hanks.  Steve Martin told everyone that the soiree was simply a dinner party!

The baby is definitely in for a wild ride.  Steve Martin has led a long life, and is known as a novelist, comedian, actor, playwright, producer and musician, but never yet as a “Dada.”  His reticence from media attention and overbearing public announcements is a welcome hint at the wholesome, relatively private life the Martin’s baby will enjoy.  Well anyway, good for them!

Cute Valentine’s Day Ideas is a questionable last minute Google search

Pinterest Queens reign over Google in anticipation of one of their favorite holidays

Cute Valentine’s Day Ideas has been searched hundreds of thousands of times by now by last minute lovers around the states.  Guys will be happy to know that, if cyber anthropology can be trusted, the word choice “cute” indicates that the search culprits are presumably girls.  Zomg, only one more day until the big one, better search cute Valentine’s Day ideas for some cheap thrills!

Cute Valentine’s Day Ideas search popularity is a testament to the fearsome strength of DIY in our age, not to mention the subject of hundreds of Pinterest boards touting the very cute valentine’s day ideas that he will totally notice and cherish forever—heart shaped carrots in chicken soup, punny candy-less pencil holders, and heart meltingly simple ways to tack paper hearts ‘n’ qt mustaches all over his room for the world to remark at the cuteness of your love and your cute valentine’s day ideas unless some cute tyrant has outcuted you, in which case it’s your cue to cut outta there.  For disciples of cute Valentine’s Day ideas and inspiration, think about catering your cuddly crafts to girlfriends this holiday and dreaming up a different adjective for your man’s Valentine’s Day Google search.  Just a suggestion, from one pinner to the next.

Meanwhile, girls don’t settle for your run-of-the-mill Pinterest Cute Valentine’s Day Ideas!  Broaden your search and strive to be the cutest cutie of them all.  Bloglovin.com is a great roundup of alternative DIY sites and a quick search can yield thousands more cheap and transient gifts on this holiest of transient holidays.  Start a forum here!  What Cute Valentine’s Day Ideas did you bring to life today?  Let us know and send a picture!

Affenpinscher, aka the world’s most obscure dog, wins best in show

Banana Joe wins it all without batting an eye

Affenpinscher is German for monkey pinscher and ranks high among the weirdest category breeds in the canine world version of toddlers and tiaras.  The affenpinscher breed got a big boost of awareness this week at New York City’s annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, where their leading specimen, Banana Joe, took best in show with a comic seriousness that is best imagined right next to a mental image of “dog show parents.”  This affenpinscher is no small player amongst pooches, as an already 3-peat winner amongst fellow toy breeds and a six-year career of dog show wins to his name.  Judge Michael Dougherty frothed, “He’s a fantastic affenpinscher, with a fantastic face, a great body. I’ve never had my hands on a better affenpinscher. Ever.”  We can all recognize that this is no small feat.

Jokes aside, Banana Joe is actually a really adorable little affenpinscher, with a smushed in monkey-looking face, fluffy black hair, and the demeanor of a dignified country lord with absolute authority to relieve himself on his neighbor’s lawn should such a barbaric thought ever even enter his primped thoughts.  In a dog-beat-dog world where demeanor and attitude are the absolute game makers, Banana Joe delivers.  According to co-owner and breeder Mieke Cooimans, the little guy speaks German, Dutch, Spanish and English, and this last win was his 86th career best-in-show.  After his victory lap, he will return to his native home in the Netherlands to live out the rest of his days in retired celebrity glory.

Despite his comic, cute looks, the affenpinscher is undoubtedly sage and savvy, never losing his cool or cracking a smile even after the hard part was over.  During his post-win press conference, Joey chilled hard and let his handler Ernesto Lara do the talking, stickin his tongue out and even looking ready for a round two if need be.  The affenpinscher won over six other dogs, including Matisse, the Portuguese water dog; Honor, a bichon frisé; Jewel, an American foxhound; Swagger, an Old English sheepdog who got most of the crowd’s cheers; Oakley, a German wirehaired pointer; and Adam, a smooth fox terrier.

Heart Attack Grill made good on its promise to its #1 patron

“Patient Joe” finally gets his flatliner fries

Heart Attack Grill is a classic Las Vegas/America venue featuring massive meathead burgers, generous extra-fat milkshakes and French fries cooked in lard.  Heart Attack Grill is guaranteed to fulfill all of your primal cravings for sodium, fat, calories,  and carbs, and may have again tragically fulfilled its commitment to “taste worth dying for,” in regards to its biggest fan and daily patron, John Allerman.

A 52-year-old construction site security guard, John Allerman graced the booths of Heart Attack Grill enough to inspire an entire clothing line featuring his animated face and unofficial mascot alter-ego “Patient Joe.”  Un-ironically enough, the astronomically caloric menu items, with cringingly appropriate names like “flatliner fries” and “quadruple bypass burger” finally got the best of Allerman, who suffered a heart attack at a bus stop in front of his favorite joint.  Allerman is Heat Attack Grill’s third heart attack victim in three years under the ownership of Jon “Dr. Jon” Basso.

Let’s be honest, Heart Attack Grill is upfront about what it offers regarding both gastronomy and cardio-vascular threats.  350 lb. patrons eat for free according to house policy, unfiltered cigarettes can be bought at the Grill’s counter and payment is cash only….”because you might die before the check clears.”  If you’re trying to stay fit, you should probably join the army of scantily clad “nurse” waitresses handing out “prescription” orders or you might find yourself living up to the venues name right at its doorstep, and you won’t even be novel enough to be the first.  Do yourself a favor, and take Heart Attack Grill for the very very very real joke it is.

Marco Rubio responds to SOTU and GIFs in kind

Marco Rubio presents an anti-Romney visual to a bad image plagued party

Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, framed and delivered the Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday, which aired on MSNBC—one of the few networks that covered the annual speech still subject to the Fairness Doctrine.  The bilingual senator displayed a polished and warm demeanor on the airwaves, and upset the balance of the Twitter universe for basically inexplicable reasons for a hot minute last night.

As predicted, this year’s SOTU heavily covered the economy, with the latter half of the 90-ish minute speech speaking on health care, gun control and citing a bevy of “common man” heroes smattered throughout the crowd.  Post-speech, Marco Rubio spent a lot of his airtime responding to Obama’s plans for a minimum-wage law and healthcare reform.  Marco Rubio is a middle-class Miami native of Latino heritage, a fact that conveniently came into play when he remarked that we need to return to small-government policies which enable immigrants and minorities to climb the economic ladder to the middle class.

In regards to the minimum wage law, Marco Rubio said, “I want people to make a lot more than $9 — $9 is not enough. The problem is you can’t do that by mandating it in the minimum wage laws. Minimum wage laws have never worked in terms of having the middle class attain more prosperity.”  What works? Making the private sector grow, of course.  Marco Rubio continued to espouse “big government is bad” and classic Republican bromides last night, offering a pleasant new face to the seemingly age-old debate.

Perhaps because neither Obama’s speech nor Marco Rubio’s rebuttal was exceptionally riveting, or perhaps because in politics a simple subtle jab will set everyone a-titter, Marco Rubio achieved twitter-verse fame on Tuesday with his now-famous bottle reach.  Mid-speech, Marco Rubio reaches for a water bottle off camera, and sips it, delicately and unsuccessfully ducking from camera view. By now Marco Rubio and “water-bottle gate” is the star of many a meme, gif and gaffe, even his own.  Post taping, the not unlikable senator posted a pic of the infamous water bottle and tweeted #republicanresponse.  Oh do stop! We’re in stitches.

Percy Harvin and his tenuous stay with the Minnesota Vikings

An uncertain future for Percy Harvin lights of the ESPN gossip mills

Percy Harvin has produced ample fodder for the sports enthusiast gossip mills, as rumors about his shaky future with the Minnesota Vikings start to swirl.  The ESPN community being as hardcore of a gossip mongering community as any neighborhood stitch ‘n’ bitch, even this relatively inconsequential piece of speculation is making waves in the couch potato community.  So, basically, Percy Harvin is finishing up his four year rookie contract with the Vikings, and Vikings v. future of Percy Harvin has commenced.  Will he stay or will he go now?

Percy Harvin is like an artsy type in the pro-football world.  The talented but troubled player has trouble meshing well with the people he needs to meshing well with, like his coach and teammates for example, off the field.  Vikings Coach Leslie Frazier has already declined to commit to signing Percy Harvin to the team for 2013, a decision that puts the volatile player on the so-called trading block, that is to say he is up for the acquiring by other teams.  Due to his somewhat volatile behavior however, not to mention his exceptionally high price tag, the player might be hard to get rid of.  In these types of situations, as in most situations where there is no clear cut answer, some vengeful and passive aggressive moves take place. AKA Percy Harvin may skip out on training camp or play cat-and-mouse with the Vikings until he gets some answers. 

And now, the favorite game of every NFL sports fan, that of team speculation.  Who will get Percy Harvin? There is an article for basically every team that may possibly have a hand in taking this prize piece of football player from my own city’s Buffalo Bills to the 49ers.  In more concrete news, critics agree that a Vikings trade of Percy Harvin would be beneficial for both the team in terms of unity and budget, and Harvin in terms of career development.

Clinton Romesha awarded the Medal of Honor by Barack Obama

Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha displayed outstanding acts of heroism in a 2009 firefight against the Taliban

Clinton Romesha was recognized for his heroism in one of the most heated battles of coalition forces in Afghanistan.  The former Army Staff Sgt. displayed jaw dropping leadership and selflessness during a severely mismatched firefight in 2009, where 53 Americans were surrounded by 300 Taliban fighters.  The site of the battle was Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan.  One of the most remote American strongholds in the country, it is near the Pakistan border and surrounded by mountains.

Clinton Romesha is the fourth living veteran to receive a Medal of Honor for acts of heroism performed in Iraq or Afghanistan.  During the attack, Clinton Romesha fought vehemently to save his life and the lives of his comrades.  Even after he was wounded from shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade, Clinton Romesha continued to rescue his comrades under heavy fire and recover the bodies of others.  Throughout the attack, Clinton Romesha also directed air assaults to protect the outpost. 

The daylong firefight took place as many of the key officers at the outpost were away—Clinton Romesha stepped up immediately to fill the leadership vacuum as the outpost was getting pummeled by the enemy. 

An army account attests that on that day, Clinton Romesha “displayed extraordinary heroism through a daylong engagement in which he killed multiple enemy fighters, recovered fallen soldiers and led multiple recovery, resupply, and counterattack operations.”

President Obama awarded the medal to Clinton Romesha during an award ceremony on Monday, and recounted the heroic deeds of the veteran in vivid detail, with tears in his eyes.  The courage of Clinton Romesha and his Bravo Troop comrades, Obama said, was “driven by pure love.”  Clinton Romesha accepted the award and commendations silently, with tears in his eyes.  His wife, Tammy, and three kids, Dessi, Gwen and Colin, joined him at the ceremony.  Today Romesha works in the oil fields of North Dakota, and Obama has characterized him as “a pretty humble guy.”

Christopher Dorner is the subject of store evacuations and a $1M reward

The manhunt for the cop-killer continues with increasing rewards and increasing casualties

Christopher Dorner’s capture comes with a bounty of $1 million, making him the subject of the largest local reward ever offered according to Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.  Beck continued to emphasize the depth of police dedication concerning activity surrounding the capture of Christopher Dorner, saying “This is an act of domestic terrorism.  This is a man who has targeted those that we entrust to protect the public.  His actions cannot go unanswered.”  This is the fourth day of the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, an ex-cop who is charged with a killing spree that has left three officers dead, and a promise of more to come.

Christopher Dorner has embarked on a tour of revenge in response to what he believes is an illegitimate dismissal from the Los Angeles police force.  His intentions and motives are outlined in detail in the killer’s 6,000 word “manifesto” and he has stated that his commitment to his mission will not stop until the truth is known about his case. 

Beck announced that Christopher Dorner’s case would be reopened, he explained “I feel we need to also publicly address Dorner’s allegations regarding his termination of employment, and to do so I have directed our Professionals Standards Bureau and my Special Assistant for Constitutional Policing to completely review the Dorner complaint of 2007; To include a re-examination of all evidence and a re-interview of witnesses.” 

Public reaction to Christopher Dorner’s killings displays fear of both the attacker and the LAPD in its attempt to capture him.  So far, three innocent bystanders have been killed during the manhunt.  Most recently, a Lowe’s homeware store in Northridge, California was evacuated under the surveillance of a police helicopter and several police units, after a call was made reporting a possible sighting of Dorner.  Though the evacuation was more of a precaution, it is possible that Christopher Dorner was definitely in the area, leaving inhabitants of the neighborhood on edge and indoors.  Meanwhile, hundreds of tips have poured in to the station after the announcement of the 7-figure reward, which the police department is working overtime to follow up on.  There was also an amped up police presence at the Grammy Awards Sunday in response to the Christopher Dorner threat.