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If you’ve been following either CNBC or “The Daily Show” — or basically if you’ve turned on your TV at all this week — then you know that Jim Cramer is in a sort of televised brawl with Jon Stewart. It all began with this “Daily Show” clip.

Cramer, in contrast to his sometimes tough and angry “Mad Money” persona, is actually quite a sensitive man, and he didn’t appreciate the criticism. A weeklong back-and-forth has ensued. It’s all pretty ridiculous (and entertaining), and I honestly don’t know how seriously Cramer is taking it. I have to imagine that he understands that by putting himself out there the way he does, he leaves himself open to criticism. And I have to assume that Jon Stewart gives him the benefit of the doubt, because no one, not even the financial experts, knew quite what the market was capable of before the market punched us all in the face with it.

It all comes to a head tonight with Cramer’s appearance on “The Daily Show,” and along with the rest of America, I will be watching.

What I take issue with is this. Gawker has chosen to bring Erin Burnett into this mess and lump her together with all of the other CNBC pundits when she quite clearly is in a class of her own. For example, today on “Morning Joe,” Erin was caught off-guard having a breakfast of Cheetos. It is the latest in a long list of adorable and charming things Erin has been filmed doing and saying.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

She handled herself capably on the Bill Maher show. She does her job in defending Cramer, and she does it as adorably as she does everything else. There is nothing loathsome about it. And Gawker failed to mention that on Monday’s “Stop Trading!” segment (the wrapup of which I write every day for work), Erin put up a good fight against Mr. Cramer, proving she is far from the network pawn Gawker would make her out to be.

Gawker also recently deigned to mock Ms. Burnett for this gem, a perfect example of why she deserves recognition as business news television’s Cutest Little Button. I have yet to verify her claim that the chocolate chip cookie was invented during the Great Depression, but just watch the way she throws back her head when Matt Lauer pokes some harmless fun at her!

And honestly, where would the world be without the chocolate chip cookie? You tell me! I know where I wouldn’t have been last week at this time: in my kitchen making chocolate chip cookies! And I know what wouldn’t be in my freezer right now: two batches of frozen leftover chocolate-chip-cookie dough!

Also, for the record, I have spent a full day in front of CNBC every weekday for the better part of two and a half years, and I’m here to tell you that it’s not that bad. And it’s not just because Erin Burnett’s so impossibly adorable.

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I just made the trek to a gourmet market to procure nine lemons and a big bottle of grade B maple syrup. You’d think that not eating for a few days would save me money, but that syrup is pricey!  This bottle put me back about $27.

For those of you intrested in jumping on the Master Cleanse bandwagon, the magic recipe is:

During the Day

  • 10 tablespoons grade B maple syrup
  • 10 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • mixed with as much water as you need

“Dinner”

  • 2 tablespoons syrup
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • less water (chug it!)
  • 1 cup senna laxative tea

The true Cleanse also involves a daily salt-water flush, which I tried last time I did this thing, but it made me feel so ill, and I really don’t see the benefits of flushing my system in such a drastic way when I’m already not eating and drinking laxative tea (which is delicious and has a relatively mild effect several hours later).

As with my previous Cleanse, Day 2 is pretty easy.  I’m not registering hunger as hunger but rather a dull tingling sort of feeling.  As a result, I’m drinking much less of my syrup and lemon juice than I did yesterday.  Cravings are mild, as demonstrated by my easy resistance to the otherwise oh-so-tempting fettucine with pesto cream sauce in the buffet at the market.

Tomorrow, if it’s anything like my first Cleanse, will be very difficult.  Our plan is to have soup tomorrow night, but we might decide to extend this for another day if we feel up to the challenge.  Chris is on soup duty since I have to tutor tomorrow night, and as mild as my cravings might be, I’m looking very forward to coming home tomorrow to the scent of pureed cauliflower and red pepper bubbling on the stove!

Also, in a side note, last night’s “Bachelor” finale was terribly anticlimactic.  History repeats itself, I guess, and Jason turns out to be as big of a douche to Melissa as DeAnna was to him.  Though I hesitate to place too much blame on him, since I finally wised up last night to the fact that Melissa was way too young and way too Dallas Cheerleady to be The One.

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Chris and I just made it through the latest episode of “The L Word,” which over the last two or thee seasons has spiraled downward to become probably the Worst TV Show Ever.

Here’s a list of recent things that have contributed to the show’s being just terrible:

  1. In a word, Jenny. I liked her in Season 1, maybe even in Season 2 (and Mia Kirshner is hot!), but she has become increasingly annoying and evil, and this season her character’s just totally unbelievable. She’s still super hot, though.
  2. Pam Grier. Was she ever able to act? If so, she’s making it very clear in “The L Word” that she no longer can. Inexplicably, the writers keep inserting her unnecessarily into scenes. Everything out of her mouth is awkward, and now that we’ve done away with the plot points of her alcoholism, her relationship with the super young babysitter, and her relationship with Kelly Lynch (who I’m pretty sure had a penis?), her character is totally useless.
  3. Shane being with Jenny at all. That just would never happen. But if it did happen, and if Shane actually stayed with Jenny — even after Jenny did crazy things like turn Shane’s bedroom into an office after they’d been together for, like, a day — then Shane would not hook up with Nikki Stevens in the dark room that Jenny just gave her (which was a totally inappropriate gift, as all gifts from Jenny are). Shane’s not a bad person! She can control her sexual urges! She’s done it before, and Nikki Stevens is not irresistible enough to explain why Shane would suddenly lose control of them now. Though Nikki Stevens is pretty irresistible.
  4. The hook of this season is that it began with Jenny’s death, and now we’re backtracking to figure out which of her “friends” killed her. In every episode, a new character becomes a victim of Jenny’s evil ways and promptly says, “I’m going to kill Jenny!” Actually, that’s so bad it’s actually good. I have a strange respect for the writers for being able to even attempt something so stupid. Also, obviously Jenny killed herself. I mean, I would kill myself if I were Jenny!

Oh, I have to stop here. If you watch the show, you’ve had enough of this stuff without my repeating it to you. If you don’t watch, the show is boring enough as a television program; I don’t need to blogacize it.

Why do Chris and I keep watching? I’m not really sure. It probably has something to do with all the hot girls.

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In anticipation of tonight’s “Top Chef” finale, here’s a little ode to all of the wonderful companies and products that make the show possible.

May the best woman win!  I’m rooting for you, Carla.  Hootie! Hoo!

Interestingly, Wikipedia’s removed the results it had up earlier today.  Carla’s name was highlighted in pink, indicating she was the winner.  I couldn’t find any leaks elsewhere to confirm it, and the results are down now.  Only time will tell!

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I had a truly lovely Valentine’s Day. As you all know, I love chain restaurants and have long thought that my favorite was the Olive Garden, in spite of having only been once before and of being served a wilted salad. But those pastas! All those pastas! And their cream sauces! And unlimited breadsticks! Isn’t there even a bottomless pasta bowl deal?

There was certainly no bottomless pasta bowl deal at the Olive Garden on 6th Avenue that Chris and I went to for the Early Bird Special on Saturday. We thought arriving at 4:15 would beat the crowds (not that there would be crowds at the Olive Garden in New York City, with so many other restaurants to choose from!), but that place was packed. There was a 40-minute wait, so we walked around and stopped in the Container Store, which is an incredible and way-too-expensive store. It’s one of my favorites, and I love to imagine the organizational system I’d choose for my walk-in closet, were I to have a walk-in closet or be able to afford such a system.

It turns out that not only is the Manhattan Olive Garden a popular spot, but it, like the Container Store, is Way Too Expensive! Entrees started at about $18. What? And, as I mentioned, no bottomless pasta bowl. I guess the unlimited salad is only for the basic salad, not the Caesar, which is what I wanted. There were unlimited breadsticks, but while they were delicious with all the butter and salt and garlic slathered on top, they weren’t really breadsticks, more like big puffy loaves.

We got the calamari and beef ravioli appetizers. Both were pretty bad. I love fried calamari, and this was some of the worst calamari I’ve ever had. I’ve had better for a few bucks at a bar. The Caesar salad was overly dressed with watery, bland dressing that only hinted at Caesar. Chris got some Italian sampler with lasagna (actually not bad), chicken parm (I couldn’t even finish one bite) and fettuccine alfredo (admittedly delicious).

I got the chicken and broccoli with garlic-cream sauce, which I’d been daydreaming about since I saw it on the online menu last week. Alas, the chicken was unnecessarily breaded, the broccoli was merely steamed (I’ve recently developed a killer recipe for broccoli, and this fell way short, though, let’s be honest, broccoli is delicious no matter what you do with it), and the cream sauce, like the salad dressing, was watery and bland. The dish’s saving grace was that it used orecchiette pasta, the little ear-shaped guys, which is probably the trendiest pasta out there right now. The Olive Garden’s hip to pasta trends, at least, and it really was a good choice. The sauce, too watery to really stick to the noodles, was able to nestle itself into the cup of each little ear and thus deliver as much of its muted flavor as possible.

Everything was better as leftovers, of course, and no matter that this was my worst meal in New York. It was also utterly hilarious, and I shared it with one of the best things (people) New York’s got going for it. Thank you, Chris, for a wonderful second Valentine’s Day celebration.

Best part: We made it home by 6:30, just in time to watch several hours of TV!

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I want to let the world know that I have made my pick for this season’s “Top Chef.”

My pick is Carla, otherwise known (by my “Top Chef”-watching party of myself and Chris) as the Human-Shaped Flightless Bird, and we label her as such with all the respect and affection we can muster.

She’s the underdog, for sure. I was surprised she made it through the first few episodes. For a while, it seemed all she could do was make dessert (and not always very well), and as we all know, it’s “Top Chef,” not “Top Pastry Chef.” She definitely has a shot to be this season’s Fan Favorite, but it’d pretty crazy-awesome if she won the Big Title, too.

Speaking of crazy, she’s also as quirky as they come. Here’s some videographic evidence to support this claim.

Recently, Carla won the Super Bowl challenge (and a couple of tickets to the Bowl, which she reportedly gave to her husband and stepson). If only I could find the clip of her reaction to the news, but suffice it to say that she was as surprised as the rest of us, and terribly, terribly excited.

Over the past few weeks, Carla has been full of surprises. She’s been cooking savory dishes instead of desserts, and she’s been cooking them well. And we learned just this week that Carla is classically trained in French cooking! Eric Ripert could tell immediately that she knew her stuff.

So why has she been painted as so clueless, or at least a bit of a goof, up to this point? I suspect that part of the surprise element has to do with the show’s production and editing (we all know from that little, tiny-print disclaimer at the end of episodes that the show isn’t as “real” as it claims to be). They’re setting us up to think she’s going to lose because, when she comes close to winning, it’ll be that much cooler!

You might have noticed, too, at the Le Bernardin table, that she displayed none of her human-shaped-flightless-bird eccentricities. I suspect this shows the hand of the producers and editors, too. Her hair was pulled back, and she sat there calmly and responded sanely to Eric Ripert, in contrast to pretty much every other scene she’s been in.

I think it’s going to come down to Fabio and Stefan, and Stefan’s going to win, but my hope is that Carla comes in third. I don’t care about Hosea, and Leah is obviously getting booted next episode because not only does she not cool as well as the others and cheat on her boyfriend, but she also just gives up whenever something’s a little bit hard, and we all know, this is “Top Chef,” not “Top Quitter”!

Also, who doesn’t love how gosh-darn nice Carla is? That’s so rare in competitive reality TV, and definitely a breath of fresh air. If I were still in DC, I’d hire Carla to cater a big party for me, at which we’d serve birds that, though not human-shaped, would definitely be flightless due to the fact of their being cooked.

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The day began with, for once, Chris wanting to sleep and stay in bed longer than I did! That was incredible, and I certainly wanted to encourage the behavior, so I indulged him by watching some Howard On Demand. We had bagels (but no egg and bacon because, of course, we’re watching what we eat, though that didn’t stop me from adding an apple turnover to my order at the last minute) and then hopped in a car (because my ears were cold) to my place.

After an episode of “The L Word” (more on that later) and the latest “Real World: Brooklyn” (the most unrealistic aspect of this season is that for some ridiculous reason the roommates go to a gym in upper Manhattan even though they live in Red Hook), Chris was sufficiently antsy and headed off to the Brooklyn Museum (which I’ve never visited, in spite of its being two blocks from my new apartment and eight from my old), leaving me to clean my kitchen (it smelled a little), tidy the living room, prepare my laundry (I couldn’t find enough quarters to actually do it) and strip my bed (still need to put the new sheets on).

Now we’re making dinner. Chris is working on pork chops, and I made broccoli with garlic, red pepper flakes, onion and green pepper (cleaning out the fridge) and orzo with my first homemade pesto (note to self: don’t double the cheese in the recipe no matter how good an idea it seems like at the time). We’re watching bootlegged copies of “Doubt” and “Revolutionary Road” tonight in preparation for our Annual Oscar Battle.

I’m going to cream him this year. My best advantage, aside from my typical reliance on “Entertainment Weekly”‘s picks, is that I’m trying to read the based-on books as well as watch all the movies this year.

This blog post is a bit too much like a diary entry, I suppose. My many readers are lucky that my life is so interesting.

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