Friday, July 27, 2007

The Moosewood Restaurant

"A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do." ~ P.J. O'Rourke

Muslims have Mecca. Fashion designers have Paris. And natural food lovers have Moosewood.

This week Trudi and I had dinner at The Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY. Their website gives some history:

"Moosewood, Inc. is a collectively owned business with nineteen members who share responsibilities and participate in the various jobs necessary to run what has grown from a very small natural foods restaurant to become a larger and more diversified company. Most members of the Collective have worked together for at least 15 years, and some since the restaurant's inception in 1973. The restaurant is further staffed by a talented and dedicated group of employees whom we truly appreciate and without whom we could not operate."

"With our emphasis on healthful natural foods cuisine, Moosewood Restaurant has operated successfully for thirty-three years and has been acclaimed as a driving force in the world of creative vegetarian cooking. Moosewood was named one of the thirteen most influential restaurants of the 20th Century by Bon Appetit. We started in an era when many alternative businesses began, and we feel incredibly grateful to have endured, thrived and had a positive impact."

Our waitress was Bethany. When she first approached, she beamed a smile that immediately made us feel welcome. During dinner, Bethany was attentive without being intrusive. Her enthusiasm for making our meal enjoyable was very much appreciated.

The name Bethany means "house of figs" in Hebrew. It's interesting that this name is associated with food - since Bethany works in a restaurant. Perhaps her destiny is to pursue a culinary career.

Moosewood's atmosphere is quiet, casual and relaxed - my favorite dining environment. And unlike some NYC restaurants, we didn't have to fire off a flare gun to get attention for service or a check.

For dinner, Trudi had Vegan Lasagna. I chose the Caribbean Stew. To accompany dinner, Bethany brought us an intriguing Pinot Noir. For dessert, we selected the Vegan Chocolate Cake. Everything was superb. Moosewood's archive of culinary creations can be found at Recipes.

Note: Check out Vegan for more information on this life style.

The Moosewood Restaurant is also well known for its cookbooks. Eleven have been published, with more on the way. The recipes are easy to follow - an appealing feature for amateur chefs. After dinner, I bought Trudi a copy of Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, which focuses on meals that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. It's Rachael Ray in Birkenstocks. Trudi will be test driving some recipes this weekend. Yum!

No matter what your food preference, this natural nourishment will delight you. Good food is good food - no matter what philosophy is behind it. Plan B is to pick up one of their cookbooks. Whatever choice you make, you will very much enjoy the Moosewood experience!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Marc Broussard - S.O.S.: Save Our Soul

"Music is what feelings sound like." ~Author Unknown

Today I discovered Marc Broussard, a 25 year old singer from Louisiana. His new album - S.O.S.: Save Our Soul - is funky with a capital F. Even though he looks more like a Viking than a soul singer, Marc has got the goods.

I'm old enough to remember 60's soul music, and I never imagined that a contemporary artist would be able to capture the special energy and emotion of that genre. But I was wrong. S.O.S. is the real thing.

When asked about the message of this album, Marc said "I want to take what was beautiful and right about old-school soul and make it alive again." He added "Soul music grew out of the church, out of gospel, but somewhere along the way it lost its heart. I want to give that heart - the good vibes, the happiness, the love - back to the music and back to the people, whether it's a new generation who've never heard what genuine soul sounds like or listeners who grew up on it."

Wikipedia defines channelling as "The communication of information to or through a person (the channel or medium), from a spirit or other paranormal entity outside the mind (or self) of the channel." If Broussard is channelling on Save Our Soul, then he must have signed up for the Deluxe Spiritual Package, because his covers of Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and Al Green bullseye the heart pounding excitement of the original artists.

My favorite songs are "Respect Yourself" by Luther Ingram and Mack Rice, and "Yes We Can, Can" by Allen Toussaint. Both are powerfully rhythmic, with lyrics that will rattle around in your head for days. This is one of the few albums where I felt compelled to listen to songs 3 or 4 times before moving on to the next track. Unless you are in a coma, or taking "that long dirt nap" I challenge you to listen to Save Our Soul without moving some part of your body.

S.O.S. is Marc's third recording. In 2005 he released his original CD - Carencro. Check out his music video of Home. This was followed in 2006 by Bootleg to Benefit the Victims of Hurricane Katrina. Both albums capture the essence of Broussard's swamp sound.

Marc's bio discusses his rhythmic roots: "Broussard was born into a musical family, so his "ownership" goes back to his days as a boy hearing his father, Louisiana Hall of Fame guitarist Ted Broussard, (member of the legendary Gulf Coast blue eyed soul band The Boogie Kings) tear through soul nuggets with bands around suburban Carencro. And Marc was singing like the style's founders by the time he was in his teens."

If you want to re-experience the greatness that was soul or if you are just discovering it for the first time, I encourage you to pick up S.O.S.: Save Our Soul. It will lift you up and make you feel good. And that's what soul music is all about.

Found: The Giant Lion-Eating Chimps of the Magic Forest

Thanks to Monkeywire for this story:

This sounds like a fake new story, but it appears to be real. The Guardian is a real newspaper. I welcome any comments on the veracity of this story.

Found: The Giant Lion-Eating Chimps of the Magic Forest,,2126328,00.html
James Randerson, science correspondent
Saturday July 14, 2007
The Guardian

Deep in the Congolese jungle is a band of apes that, according to
local legend, kill lions, catch fish and even howl at the moon. Local
hunters speak of massive creatures that seem to be some sort of
hybrid between a chimp and a gorilla.

Their location at the centre of one of the bloodiest conflicts on the
planet, the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has meant
that the mystery apes have been little studied by western scientists.
Reaching the region means negotiating the shifting fortunes of
warring rebel factions, and the heart of the animals' range is deep
in impenetrable forest.

But despite the difficulties, a handful of scientists have succeeded
in studying the animals. Early speculation that the apes may be some
yeti-like new species or a chimp/gorilla hybrid proved unfounded, but
the truth has turned out to be in many ways even more fascinating.
They are actually a population of super-sized chimps with a unique
culture - and it seems, a taste for big cat flesh.

The most detailed and recent data comes from Cleve Hicks, at the
University of Amsterdam, who has spent 18 months in the field
watching the Bili apes - named after a local town - since 2004. His
team's most striking find came after one of his trackers heard chimps
calling for several days from the same spot.

When he investigated he came across a chimp feasting on the carcass
of a leopard. Mr Hicks cannot be sure the animal was killed by the
chimp, but the find lends credence to the apes' lion-eating

"What we have found is this completely new chimpanzee culture," said
Mr Hicks. Previously, researchers had only managed to snatch glimpses
of the animals or take photos of them using camera traps. But Mr
Hicks used local knowledge to get closer to them and photograph them.

"We were told of this sort of fabled land out west by one of our
trackers who goes out there to fish," said Mr Hicks whose project is
supported by the Wasmoeth Wildlife Foundation. "I call it the magic
forest. It is a very special place."

Getting there means a gruelling 40km (25-mile) trek through the
jungle, from the nearest road, not to mention navigating
croc-infested rivers. But when he arrived he found apes without their
normal fear of humans. Chimps near the road flee immediately at the
sight of people because they know the consequences of a hunter's
rifle, but these animals were happy to approach him. "The further
away from the road the more fearless the chimps got," he added.

Mr Hicks reports that he found a unique chimp culture. For example,
unlike their cousins in other parts of Africa the chimps regularly
bed down for the night in nests on the ground. Around a fifth of the
nests he found were there rather than in the trees.

"How can they get away with sleeping on the ground when there are
lions, leopards, golden cats around as well as other dangerous
animals like elephants and buffalo?" said Mr Hicks.

"I don't like to paint them as being more aggressive, but maybe they
prey on some of these predators and the predators kind of leave them
alone." He is keen to point out though that they don't howl at the

"The ground nests were very big and there was obviously something
very unusual going on there. They are not unknown elsewhere but very
unusual," said Colin Groves, an expert on primate morphology at the
Australian National University in Canberra who has observed the nests
in the field.

Prof Groves believes that the Bili apes should prompt a radical
rethink of the family tree of chimp sub-species. He has proposed that
primatologists should now recognise five different sub-divisions
instead of the current four.

Mr Hicks said the animals also have what he calls a "smashing
culture" - a blunt but effective way of solving problems. He has
found hundreds of snails and hard-shelled fruits smashed for food,
seen chimps carrying termite mounds to rocks to break them open and
also found a turtle that was almost certainly smashed apart by chimps.

Like chimp populations in other parts of Africa, the Bili chimps use
sticks to fish for ants, but here the tools are up to 2.5 metres long.

The most exciting thing about this population of chimps though is
that it is much bigger than anyone realised and may be one of the
largest remaining continuous populations of the species left in
Africa. Mr Hicks and his colleague Jeroen Swinkels surveyed an area
of 7,000 square kilometres and found chimps everywhere. Their unique
culture was uniform throughout.

However, the future for the Bili apes is far from secure. "Things are
not promising," said Karl Ammann, an independent wildlife
photographer who began investigating the apes 1996. "The absence of a
strong central government has resulted in most of the region becoming
more independent and lawless. In conservation terms this is a

Saving Two Chimpanzees

Chimps Inc. is a primate preservation group based in Oregon. They are currently trying to support two additional chimps (Emma and Jackson) that they recently acquired. I know and respect this group. I encourage you to donate.

EMMA (left) and JACKSON (right)

A recent comment by a Chimps Inc. staffer illustrates this situation very well:

"Saving two chimpanzees will not change the world, but it will change the world for those two chimpanzees."

Your support is very much appreciated!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Scotch N Sirloin Restaurant in Amherst, NY

"My favorite animal is steak." - Fran Lebowitz

Tonight Trudi and I had dinner at an upstate NY steak house, located 20 miles from Niagara Falls.

We visited the Falls this afternoon. It was so romantical! The Canadian side is better because 1) the view from North of the border is more impressive, and 2) Canadians beat Americans hands down in the niceness category. Even their Customs officials were more pleasant.

On the way back to our hotel, we developed a craving for steak. Not being familiar with this area - and having no one to ask - we queried my Garmin C340 GPS Unit for a decent carnivore cafe. Jill - my pet name for this device - suggested Scotch N Sirloin in Amherst, NY. Jill is quite knowledgeable (and has a very sexy voice) so I decided to trust her judgment. We were not disappointed.

After being seated, we were promptly greeted by Denise, our waitress. We liked her instantly. She displayed a genuine smile - a rare commodity in NYC bistros. And her enthusiasm for making our meal enjoyable was immediately apparent. She made us feel welcome.

Good food is of course the major component in any dining experience. A top quality steak should excel in the following areas:

Aging - tenderizes the meat.

Seasoning - brings out the beef's natural flavor.

Cut - if done properly, assures consistency in both flavor and texture. A Porterhouse should always taste like a porterhouse, not a NY strip or a flank steak.

Degree of Cooking - If you ask for a steak that is medium rare, then that is how it should be prepared. No excuses.

Scotch N Sirloin excelled in all of these areas. Trudi said that her filet mignon was one of the best ever. I sampled hers and agreed. My top sirloin was also exceptional.

To accompany our meal, Denise suggested a wine that was a wonderful discovery - an Acacia 2005 Pinot Noir. While many pinots are lighter in bouquet and body, this vintage came closer to a cabernet or shiraz. It had hints of strawberry and peach, with an exceptionally long finish. A perfect compliment to a good steak.

We asked Denise about the history of Scotch N Sirloin. She indicated that it used to be part of a small chain of upstate NY steak houses. The first one opened in 1969. Subsequently they have been sold to individual owners. Many of the new proprietors are former employees who worked their way up from dishwasher or bus boy. So these people have an emotional and experiential investment in their establishments. This deeper commitment was evident in the restaurant's operation. You could tell that the employees were genuinely motivated to provide good service.

Denise also mentioned that Scotch N Sirloin's fireplace lounge was a favorite hangout for locals during the long Buffalo winters. There is nothing like a wood fire to warm you up on a cold night. An old saying among upstaters is - "What day is summer this year?" Winters feel like they are endless, so a warm comfortable nest - with good food - is highly prized by area residents.

Summary: If you find yourself in the Buffalo, NY area and you enjoy a good steak, then I highly recommend Scotch N Sirloin.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Pig Island by Mo Hayder

Trudi and I recently attended a cocktail party at the gallery of SoHo artist Alex Beard. While there, we met Bryan Adams, a Publicist with FAB Communications. When the conversation turned to books, Bryan mentioned that he always has one with him. Since Trudi and I share his passion for page turning, we felt an immediate connection.

Bryan suggested that we read Pig Island by Mo Hayder. He described this novel as "interesting dark fiction". I just finished it, and he was right.

Pig Island is dark - but without buckets of blood or supernatural characters. It is macabre in the psychological sense, which is infinitely more frightening. A good scary story messes with your head by planting the seeds of fear and then letting your mind cultivate them into full blown terror. The devil that you imagine is far more horrifying than the devil that you can see.

That's why the movie "Jaws" was such a nail biter. You didn't even get a glimpse of the shark until the third reel. But just knowing that he was out there under the waves, hunting for human hors d'oeuvres, petrified moviegoers.

Pig Island is the story of working class British journalist Joe Oakes, who makes his living by exposing supernatural hoaxes. Now in his late 30's, Joe's realizes that his writing is never going to make him a superstar (or even a star) author. His stories are barely paying the bills - and his marriage to Lexie Oakes is disintegrating. I envision Joe as a brutish character, a literary Tony Soprano - but without guns or gangsters to give his life direction. Not quite an antihero, but living somewhere in that neighborhood.

Joe is offered an assignment to visit a secretive religious community - the Psychogenic Healing Ministries. They are headquartered on the island of Cuagach Eilean (Pig Island in Gaelic) in Scotland. The PHM's leader is Malachi Dove, who Joe tangled with years earlier. At that time, Joe exposed one of Malachi's healing sessions as trickery, and damaged the leader's reputation. Years later, after suffering a nervous breakdown, Malachi has withdrawn from his flock and exiled himself to a remote corner of Pig Island.

The Ministry invites Joe to the island because they are seeking positive publicity to mend their reputation. PHM's image has been tarnished by rumors of Satanism, and other wickedness. These rumblings are further fueled by a fisherman's video, which appears to show a devil-like creature wandering the island.

The book continues with engaging story lines that held my attention on every page. And the plot twist at the end would make Agatha Christie envious!

Mo Hayder has written a number of novels, including Devil of Nanking, Birdman, and The Treatment. You can check these out at the Mo Hayder Website. In addition to compelling plots, I am captivated with her prose style. She often uses short sentences to build story structure. These are easy to assimilate because each sentence usually contains one idea. Hayder builds these terse elements into a complex drama the same way that a mason builds a brick wall - by carefully placing one unit on top of another.

The author also excels at description. She creates powerful imagery, which substantially enhances the narrative thread. For example Hayder depicts a small coastal bay as "a cup of tea". And the sky - "tendrils of cloud were splitting like mercury, running away in fragments across the moon." This is pure poetry.

Summary: I give Pig Island 4 bananas on the Monkey Prose Literature Scale. This rating system runs from 0 bananas (It's not even good enough to line a bird cage.) to 5 bananas (God handed me this book on Mt. Sinai.) This novel grabbed me in the first few pages, and I couldn't put it down. I read it in a weekend. And the shocking revelation at the end is unforgettable. If you enjoy a gripping psychological thriller, then I highly recommend Pig Island.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Monkey Prose Reaches 10,000 Site Visits!

Today Monkey Prose reached 10,000 site visits! Monkey Prose was created in September of 2006.

The original focus of MP was to present information about monkeys, but I have since expanded it to include articles about food, wine, restaurants, movies, music, art, consumer issues, and anything else that I think might be of interest to readers.

I am grateful to:
  • My wife Trudi, for just putting up with me, and for offering much encouragement and support. FYI, Trudi just started her own blog - Ginger Snaps - which will cover food, wine, and related topics. Trudi is a phenomenal cook, so I encourage you to visit her blog.
  • The people at Google for providing excellent customer service.
I never in my wildest dreams thought that Monkey Prose would reach 10,000 site visits. I am most grateful to all of my readers. I will continue my commitment to bring you interesting and humorous articles.

I welcome your comments.

- Monkey Bob

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Project-V An Exciting New Comedy-Drama For a Short-Form World!

Ever since the first monkey men crawled down from the trees and started stealing cable, the television viewing experience has remained unchanged. TV stations broadcast programs and we watched - plopped in our La-Z-Boy chairs, consuming our Hungry Man Dinners. The communication was one way - unless you count swearing at the screen during Paris Hilton interviews. (I hear she broke a nail in The Big House.)

And then God took a rib from the Internet, and created YouTube. And He saw that it was Good. YouTube begat LonelyGirl15, the pretty teenager with knee-on-chin and Joan Crawford eyebrows. Within months of her debut, Bree became the first YT superstar. Viewers couldn't get enough of this young hottie, who revealed her most intimate thoughts on parents, P Monkey, and the often mentioned (but rarely seen) boyfriend - Daniel.

Even after LonelyGirl15 was exposed as being staged, its popularity continued to soar. Fans started e-mailing suggestions for future story lines. The creators of LG recognized the power of this interaction, and ran with it. The result was a fiercely loyal audience, whose demographics would make any media executive drool.

Fast forward to 2007, and the arrival of Project V, the creation of FMX - FreemantleMedia's cross platform division. Its mission statement is "to showcase the lives and observations of six up and coming young performers from Britain and the US. The site features short-form video postings of each of the six performers – artists, actors and comedians - talking to each other and to the audience. Audiences can post comments on the performers' homepages and follow the clues to the unfolding story linking the site's stars."

The six participants are:

Chris Wylde - hails (like moi) from The Landfill of Opportunity - New Jersey. His interests include movies, music, and world domination. Chris is currently working on a book, "69 Text Messages From a Girl With Bipolar Disorder". I hear that Hollywood is already tendering options for the screenplay!

Sarah Fletcher - was born in Ohio, but now lives in Arnold's new Austria - Kalifornia. She is a singer, actress, and model. This triple threat played "Secret Girlfriend" on mobile channel "Atomic Wedgie" in the USA. Like Chris, Sarah is getting her marching orders - for taking over the world - from a toilet.

Richard Dedomenici - has a fascinating video. The visual effect is compelling, although it made me dizzy. Note to Self: Take Dramamine 1/2 hour before watching Richard. "In 2002 he was nominated for Best New Artist in the Anglia Television Six Of The Best Awards, and, despite voting for himself several hundred times, Richard failed to win." But you have to admire his persistence. And his British accent sounds pretty cool!

Ruth Pickett - describes herself as "a talented comedian, writer, and actress". Hmm, no self esteem problems here! Ruth's quirky humor has been described as "whimsical on the surface but with a darker undercurrent; a bit like a colourful but slightly dangerous oversized slide at a run down water park." Ruth has discovered how to travel through time, but won't tell us because "Then I wouldn't have all the power!"

Jonny Sweet and Joe Thomas - like Ruth, are interested in time travel. Their sketch "The Future", "a surreal vision of the workplaces of the future, received excellent reviews." In a surprise turn of events, Joe was planning on murdering Chris - but unfortunately, left his knife back in the UK. That's the trouble with traveling. You always forget something!

OK, I'm hooked.

I will be following the exploits (and potential felonies) of Project V. Although unless Jonny and Joe are Siamese twins, it seems to me that the group should be called Project VI. It will be interesting to see how their stories develop and intermingle. And Chris might want to start wearing body armor!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Chimps Inc. Struggles to Retain Custody of Emma and Jackson.

A court battle is taking place for the custody of two chimpanzees - Emma and Jackson. They are currently residing at Chimps Inc. in Bend Oregon. The lives of these two wonderful creatures hang in the balance.

To meet Emma and Jackson, click on Emma and Jackson Video.

I know and respect this organization. I strongly encourage you to donate. You can do so at Donate to Chimps Inc.

Here is the latest Report from Paula Muellner of Chimps Inc.

"Chimps, Inc. is the new home for two young chimpanzees, Emma and Jackson. Emma and Jackson are 5 and 6 years old, respectively, and arrived from San Antonio, Texas in March 2007. Their former home was Primarily Primates, Inc. (PPI), a facility that came under scrutiny in the first half of 2006 following years of complaints of poor sanitation, substandard caging, serious neglect, and endangering the welfare of the over 700 animals they housed (including over sixty chimpanzees). Chimps, Inc. offered to adopt Emma and Jackson in order to rescue them from the conditions we witnessed on three visits, and to help alleviate the burden of overcrowding at PPI, and to allow PPI an opportunity to improve its conditions. We brought Emma and Jackson to their forever homes here at Chimps, Inc. and integrated them into our chimpanzee family group. We gave them free access to our extensive and protected indoor and outdoor environments, and connections with maternal figures and other chimpanzees to assist with their physical and emotional development. They have truly flowered at their time with us.

The Texas Attorney General filed an action against PPI in October 2006, and that case was dismissed for unknown reasons in the last days of April 2007. Despite our legal right to care for Emma and Jackson, as well as our ethical and moral obligations to do so, PPI has been aggressively demanding that we return Emma and Jackson, as well as many of the animals that were transferred to other facilities, and who are living good lives in new homes. Because PPI threatened to continue its efforts and to sue us, we had no choice but to ask a court to stop PPI’s efforts so that we could continue their care and rehabilitation here. We have demonstrated to the court the immense harm it would cause to these young animals if they were to leave us, as well as our legal rights to continue our work with them. That is, not only does PPI have no legal right in the chimpanzees, Emma and Jackson would surely suffer psychological and emotional distress and anxiety if they were returned, in addition to once again being subjected to inferior living conditions.

Chimps, Inc. sent its professional staff to PPI prior to Emma's and Jackson’s arrival here, and the staff witnessed firsthand the state of the facilities:

“…Emma and Jackson were [initially] housed in a small indoor/outdoor enclosure that was attached to a residential garage…the ground was dirt and gravel, and in no way appeared comfortable to walk or sit on. The foul odor of urine and feces near the doorway was overwhelmingly strong…”

“…they were kept isolated and miles away from all other chimpanzees. They had no physical, visual, or even auditory contact with any conspecifics, other than each other…”

“…The lighting and ventilation were poor. When the doors were closed for the night at around 4 p.m., the chimps were in complete darkness until the next morning when the door was opened again…”

Today, Emma and Jackson are provided with novel enrichment, access to the indoors and outdoors each day, and fresh produce and blankets -- all things they were denied at PPI. Most importantly, they live in flexible social groups that allow them to interact, bond, groom, and play with our adult chimpanzees at all times, fostering healthy and normal chimp behaviors. The profound and enduring bonds that have been engendered among our eight chimpanzees play a vital role in their long-term psychological health. Separating this family would inflict emotional suffering every bit as powerful as breaking up a human family – on all members, especially Emma and Jackson."

"Any society which does not insist upon respect for all life must necessarily decay."
~Albert Einstein