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Mob Rule: Part 43
After turning pruny in a bucket of dishwater, Jack realizes he needs to get back to New York City and touch base with his estranged bosses before he's either killed by his own clan, or declared President
By John Armstrong
That said, I wasn’t planning on staying forever. While we dawdled, our bus passes had expired and at night I tried to figure out how long it would take us to save enough to get North. In my less optimistic moments I had visions of ending up like the dirt farmers Vanessa served meals to in every day – too poor to do anything else but keep going the way they were. (I couldn’t count how many times I heard the joke about the farmer who inherited a million dollars and was asked what he planned to do with it – “Reckon I’ll just keep farming till it’s all gone.”) Even working a 14-hour day, after Cooter took off his (more than reasonable) charge for room and board, we had about enough for cigarettes and the occasional trolley ...
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Recipe: Asian Chicken and Cabbage Salad
Feeding your intestinal microbes doesn't take courage, just a gut sense and some simple recipes, such as this Asian salad full of flora-friendly ingredients
By Louise Crosby
I’m not one to make a long list of New Year’s resolutions, but there are a couple of things I’d like to accomplish in 2016. One is to clean out my attic, the other is to feed my microbes.
Yes, microbes. All of a sudden, it seems, there are new books and TV shows about the bacteria that live in our intestines. Scientists have discovered they play a crucial role in our health, affecting everything from how we digest our food to the strength of our immune system and our outlook on life. Imbalances in our flora have been linked to disease, obesity, and depression. But how we feed these microorganisms is key: junk food kills them off, but a diet high in high-fibre fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, nuts, seeds, probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented ...
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Mob Rule: Part 42
On the run and low on funds, Jack and Vanessa hunker down in a roadside diner and discover the unsung joys of a short-order life and red-eye gravy
By John Armstrong
I have to say, if you’ve ever complained that you had no time to ponder life’s mysteries, get a job as a dishwasher in a busy lunchroom. Once you get into the swing of it, your hands learn the job and most of your mind is free to contemplate and wander where it will. It’s also sort of a non-stop process — a room full of hungry customers can dirty plates and cups just as fast as you can wash them so you soon forget any crazy ideas like “catching up” and just settle into a machinelike routine of dip, scrub, rinse, stack and repeat. The kitchen clock was on the wall behind me so I had no clue what time it was and I was honestly surprised when Cooter tapped my shoulder and said, “Hang up your brush. Time to eat.”
It was just past three and Lurlene had hung the closed sign on the ...
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Mob Rule: Part 41
On the run from old Joe Kennedy and the D.C. spin parade, Jack and Vanessa hole up in Savannah in a vain search for relief
By John Armstrong
I was prepared when we got to Savannah, not that it did me any good. There were two pay phones, one out of order and the other in use by a man with two old cloth shopping bags at his feet who looked as badly off as we were. I shuffled and danced and muttered behind him in an agony of impatience but he just stood there saying “Ummm-hmmm” every few seconds. By his reaction, whatever they were telling him wasn’t terribly exciting but he seemed determined to hear all of it. At one point he pulled the phone away and I thought he was going to hang up but he was just changing ears.
I was anxious to get the phone but I was also hopping back and forth on my feet while I waited because our bus had no toilet on it, and it had been a long time since Tallahassee. I considered solving both problems at once, just unzipping right ...
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Food: Cauliflower Gratin
A stray cat looking for warmth on a frigid winter's day serves as a furry reminder about the importance of comfort food, such as cauliflower gratin
By Louise Crosby
Late last winter, as the snow was melting, a strange creature appeared at our back door. Turns out it was a cat, or more accurately, half a cat, with bony haunches and huge matted clumps of black fur. He had obviously survived a terrible ordeal, an unusually harsh Canadian winter, apparently with little food. We fed him, of course, and he stuck around, making our back deck his home through the spring, summer and fall. And what an appetite. By late November he was as solid as a little black bear, with a good, thick coat.
We called him Charlie because he’s male and because it rings nicely with Chicklet, the name of our official cat. He’s a lovely guy, just a little skittish, and particular about who approaches him and from what angle, and he absolutely, positively, will not come ...
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Tribute: Dal Richards
The Bandleader who rang in New Year's Eve for decades rings out on the New Year's Day, five days shy of 98
By Rod Mickleburgh
VANCOUVER - I certainly didn’t know Dal Richards well. But I knew all about him, and I loved running into him. How often do you get to shake hands and say ‘hello’ and ‘thanks’ to a living legend? Vancouver’s King of Swing had a gig every New Year’s Eve for 79 years, which, as the whimsical Richards never tired of pointing out, must be some kind of world record.
This year, Dal didn’t make it. The bandleader, who really did seem like he would live forever, passed away five days short of his 98th birthday on, yes, New Year’s Eve. No one ever accused Dal Richards of not having a sense of occasion.
The thing about Dal was not only his accomplishments as a terrific bandleader and musician, but that he kept on playing. The years rolled by, and you kept wondering, will this be the year Dal Richards finally hangs up ...
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Mob Rule: Part 40
When Jack realizes he's stuck between The Kennedys and his old mob buddies back in New York, he makes a bold squeeze play to abandon the Presidential campaign trail and return to the family fold
By John Armstrong
So now I was in the middle of a triple-cross, because surely the last thing Meyer and Frank expected was for me to come home having made a side deal with one of my co-conspirators. But, like Sidney said, this was a game where the rules changed while you played.
It wouldn’t matter anyway unless I figured out how to excuse Vanessa and myself from this party without getting shot. I had to keep myself ready for any opportunity to get a small head start on them, even a few hours. They’d relaxed on watching me so far as I’d noticed and as I thought about it I realized why. They’d hamstrung me in the most efficient way possible: I had no money.
I’d gotten so used to Sydney or one of the others paying for everything or simply signing for it ...