Friday, June 30, 2006

Tell me more about the carrot.

I am as lame as Star Jones for even mentioning the Star Jones situation, but really: how lame. She is so repellant. I've never been as appalled by any narcissistic public display of princessy conspikuous product-placement consumption as I was by her wedding and I don't even *watch* The View. It seeped through every bit of the media, around the corners, into the edges, whether you wanted it to or not. Just awful. And I'm (oh celebrities) equally appalled by the dead-eyed look she's acquired since Losing the Weight--she has (what could be construed as) this kind of smug, you-come-to-me, superior, sleepy-eyed look that at the very least make me wonder what kinda drogas she's on. Oy! Well, who cares and all that, but--who cares. Especially since the controversy just feeds the problem--I can't help feeling that we're watching a bit of a monster being created by the fame machine we feed just by...watching. Breathing. Living.

Real find: Wild Oats Organic Tater Tots! Thank god they don't have a cutesy re-named name the way some organic food does, like Healthy Li'l Potato Pals. And they're good: more actual potato taste without the seriously pre-fab flavor the generic ones have (which are still not as bad as Ore-Idas), and not quite as greasy, but they still cook up with that requisite lovely, almost grainy tot texture, and crisp, potato-mosaic outside. As I prepared my dinner last night I realized there are a few rules that always go with them, a few--as it were--Tot Tenets:

1. It doesn't matter what temperature at which you begin cooking them, or what the various packages say (always somewhere in the 400s), you will always end up cooking them at 500 degrees. That is the correct tot temperature to achieve proper textural contrast and bite. So go ahead and crank the heat up.

2. There are never enough tater tots.

3. Tots are in their way very ephemeral things--not held together with very much, prone to sticking to the cooking sheet and coming apart, in the end just a squeeze of leftover potato pieces chopped into little tiles pressed together in lieu of being fed to livestock. Hence, the best tool for getting them off the cooking sheet, even when covered with foil or paper, are your fingers, as they delicately pull at them. Spatulas gouge them into bits, even when they've cooked enough and therefore started to raise themselves a bit off the paper.

4. Corollary to #3: you will always get a little bit burnt handling Tots.

5. Tots are at their best plain, with salt and ketchup for dipping. I can't get with these Casseroles. Seems coy. A tot is a tot is a tot.

Been watching Dial M for Murder. I am in love with movies with very constrained physical locales--which often means movies that were plays. This one is too small, too constrained, too claustrophobic (3/4 of an apartment), though, even for me who loves this shit. Downright lazy. Well, 95% of the time I think that, 5% of the time I think that much constraint plus Raymond Milland's elegant performance contributes to the creepy evil of the story, although really, when you look at it, it's awfully English, the kind of murder mystery writing Raymond Chandler faulted the British for. The scene at the end where Milland, having been caught hiring someone to murder his wife, offers them all a drink, including the policeman AND the wife, and they civilly agree that they "could do with something," seems pretty comical now.

This movie is notable also for starring John Williams, who is my grandfather manque, or--doppelganger is not quite right--he my grandfather. I say this, even though 1) he, um, ISN'T and 2) I actually never met my grandfather. But I know the photos, and the stories, and he looked very like JW, down to the waxed mustachios, Anglo-egg-shaped head with smoothed-down hair, and tweedy 3-piece suits with watch fobs and vests. He was also the right era (my grandfather was of a more than usually distant generation--born in early 1890s). There are also a few family stories relating to JW (seeing him on a train right after my grandfather died, e.g.) that aren't mine to tell that first put the idea in my head in fact. So he just Is. This is something more than superstition; it's this kind of illogical but pleasing flat-footed deliberate (dis)belief. Yup, there he is. I have to have *some* bit of this very important but mysterious person in my life, so I choose to think he walks in and out in this manner occasionally.

Small Spaces, Big Style on HGTV is fascinating, not just because it demonstrates the interesting, spatial-orienting workings of people's minds as they try to cram their lives into 400 sq. feet, but it shows how *couples* do this. Usually crazed NYC couples, who are trying to fit their whole lives, including often pets and at-home businesses, into ridiculously tiny apartments with no storage or square footage. Flavored with an ascetic religious fervor. I decided the other day, though, as they featured these great carpeted cat "stairs" along the wall in one of those places, that the show means nothing if they're not showing us how they deal with THE LITTER BOX, *ESP* in a small space. That's the ultimate challenge, there, and if they don't show that, nothing else matters. Puh-lease. I've never known a cat yet who couldn't fling litter out of the most carefully designed space in all their scrabblings and diggings.

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