Big chicken

Jackie and I went to the University of Illinois Meat Sales Room, aka the Meat Lab, to buy eggs. On the way in, I noticed a sign on the window saying that they had fresh chickens available for $1.75/lb.

I had just been saying on twitter that, with USDA changing the rules to allow chicken to be shipped to China to be cut up into pieces and then shipped back to the U.S. and sold as “Product of USA” with no further inspection, it was perhaps time to just switch to only eating local chickens. These chickens, produced by the university’s agriculture department as part of their educational mission, certainly qualify—the Poultry Research Farm is only about 2 miles away from our house.

So, once we got in line with our eggs, I told the woman at the fresh case that I wanted one chicken. And I got one.

It weighs 8.26 lbs.

Basically, it’s the size of a small turkey.

I have never seen a chicken this size. It outweighs the next biggest chicken I’ve ever bought by a solid 50%.

Jackie has undertaken to cook this enormous chicken, which will no doubt provide leftovers for days.

Downtown Champaign sunset

We were downtown for drinks and dinner at Seven Saints with Barbara and Rosie, and I noticed a rather spectacular sunset (click for larger, more spectacular version).

A merely fair picture of it—it was more spectacular in person—but good enough, I thought, to share.

And, in relation to my recent post on pelvises, among the Halloween decorations inside Seven Saints, I happened to notice another depiction of a skeleton with iliac crests dramatically smaller than an actual skeleton’s. Look at that! Surely no one could expect a lifetime exposure to such misleading representations to do anything other than produce a whole range of body dysmorphic issues.

another-small-hips-skeleton

Don’t miss Andrew Leonard on Richard Powers

I first encountered Andrew Leonard when Steve pointed me to the column “How the World Works” at Salon.com. Filled with keen observations about globalization, right at the moment when globalization was changing everything, Steve spotted it as being just the sort of thing I was interested in at the time.

The column wrapped up a while ago—globalization is just how things are now—but I’ve kept up with Leonard’s writing, so today I spotted his latest essay, The astonishing power of Richard Powers.

I’ve been aware of Power’s novels for a long time, because he was a local sf writer, sort of, on the faculty at the University of Illinois. (I gather he just last year took a position at Stanford.)

His work is only sort of sf; it’s more literary than genre. It’s very well-regarded, but my few attempts to read it were unsuccessful: it seemed deliberately opaque. I grasped that the stylistic choices were intended to make the book’s form echo the book’s intent, but in my couple of experiments, they didn’t work for me.

This essay, though, almost convinces me to give more of his books a try. Certainly I’ll take a look at his latest, Orfeo.

But the essay is interesting beyond that. Despite having followed Leonard’s work at Salon for years, I was completely unaware that his father was “the youngest editor in chief in the history of the New York Times Book Review.”

I found in the younger Leonard’s experiences an echo of my own—choosing to be a writer when my father is one of the best writers I know.

A great essay. Long, but well worth reading.