Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Where's My MacArthur Genius TV-Watching Grant?*

I'm starting to realize how boring crucial media "relationships" are in some of their particulars--not consumption, relationships, a much more accurate description of how things actually work these days. I'm talking about the way I watch and don't watch and half-watch things and above all the REASONS for all this that roll around in all sort of layered and interconnected meanings. I mean, who cares, right? It's like all the backstory that goes with being a picky eater--either you eat it or not, right? Wait, I am a picky eater.

Well, the point is I can't avoid all the reasons and hoo-ha and ponderousness. 1) What the hell, it's my fucking bl*g 2) Three cheers and dammit, c'est la vie and 3) I think some of this is just part of being a media consumer in a world that is too much a-crowded with offerings way beyond what I'd call "choice" at this point. Dabble dip dip dabble dip. Previews, post-game, highlights, shows about shows. It's possible to see things without actually seeing things more than ever. Certainly possible to *absorb* media more easily than ever, through passing headlines, clips, interviews, magazines. Osmosis. Smush smush smush. Just by sitting on one's tuffet and not looking at one thing, all into one's pores. But that's not even it--media consumption is not just about what you see or don't anymore. It's too everywhere.

Which brings us to Grey Gardens, currently undergoing a surge in canonization/popularity/approval a couple layers up in pop culture. A push past the cult status into--what? Hairspray-dom? I don't know.

It's certainly one of those films I like, basically, can talk about, one that has passed my CP (cocktail party) threshhold to where I'd get most of the jokes/be able to talk about it at a party (I can fake my way through many things; this is a slightly higher superficial standard). I've never really seen it, though. All of it, in one gulp, I mean. I've seen bits and pieces of it, many separate scenes, and often: enough to patch together a cracked but complete vase.

Sunday night it was on TCM, and I made my 4th/5th serious attempt to watch it straightup, straight through, and couldn't. It's surprising--seems like it'd be so up my alley, including being so faggy. I realized finally, though, that at I really need to see this film with somebody. Every time I've tried to watch it straight through I've been by myself, and I just can't get enough distance on it to want to see more or not feel antsy or trapped. It doesn't seem so charming alone--I find myself thinking very flat-footed, literal-minded--hopelessly bourgeois--things like, "Why would anybody want to see this?" "God, please clean up." I need somebody else to buoy me up (The opposite of what one needs for some films.) And I feel surges of contrariness--why must I be participating in this? Why is everything shot from just the distance of a camera so hilarious, so far away, so postmodernically fascinating and riotous? Um, well, yes. I don't think that everyone who loves this movie is a hopelessly ironic wreck--at all--remotely--but some of the rabid fandom does turn me off just the slightest bit, I don't know why (it is kind of an all-or-nothing movie). Sheer contrariness, probably, mixed with a little too close-to-home-itude. I figure I'm probably one good viewing with a friend away from really liking this film (or becoming lil Edie). And all this other stuff won't be relevant. But it just didn't work Sunday.

(I'll say this, I always find it very hard to hang on to my appetite when I watch it. Yuck. And it's made me wonder which of my cats is Little E and which is Big E.)

So, because I have a sleazy streak a mile wide, as I taped Grey Gardens and flipped back and forth, I watched one of the few reality shows I like to watch (note: I don't like them, I like to watch them). These shows are all really bad, and don't really or in fact at all justify any reality show watching. Even in their paucity. Doesn't matter. That is--I watched, um, The Girls Next Door. You know, the show about Hugh Hefner's three girlfriends. HAH!

What can I say, I find it fascinating. I don't watch it for the sight of the fake boobies, or grotty ol Hef shuffling around in his pajamas. It's partly because you're seeing behind the curtain of some extreme gender roles and what the hell I don't live there but find it a little interesting (where do people who want to make their hair that blond come from? what do they do? eat?). This goes along with the sleazy streak (what can I say, I became a platinum blond for a while in my 30s). It's more, for me, I think, about the relentless allure of the DOMESTIC--exactly what the show's not supposed to be about, but what I like the most. Not huge drama, but the workings of a house, showing the kitchen and dining rooms and habits and the trivial domestic round. (The other reality show I love is Dog the Bounty Hunter and I don't even know what to write about that now. Saving it up for an essay, I think. Gawd.) I suppose it is the allure of the hyper-domestic that will finally get me to like Grey Gardens the way I should? Just a different kind.

The other thing I like about The Girls Next Door are the half-assed but fascinating little sociological constructs, such as the last episode where two of Hef's girlfriends were sitting in a cage with one of the Mansion's (depressed, sway-bellied) monkeys while a monkey expert explained their "matriarchal" society (sooooo 1,000 words). Or the way that there is this strict order of precedence when Hef kisses his girlfriends, and how that works (very monkey-like). Or the time when an episode cleverly intercut scenes of one woman getting (everything) waxed with shots of one of the dogs being shaved--that sounds mean in the telling, but it was actually kind of hilarious and made a decent point.

I can't justify it, fundamentally, how I like this show. (And do I love it in the relentlessly ironic way I feel uncomfortable with when people watch the Beales? I don't think so, but duh.) I once made my poor friend Holly watch four episodes in a row, and I don't know why she's still talking to me (she is a big Grey Gardens fan, natch). HHefner is the architect of some social phenomena I just can't get with, kinda hate, can't stand! Boob jobs, this image of women as hairless young chihuahas. But I kinda like his life. Everything comes to him at his neato 1920s mansion and he's the ultimate media consumer with his movie library and all that. Maybe I want to be living in my 80s with a bevy of young men and an editorial dictatress-ship?

What one watches, says one watches, actually watches, theoretically watches, half-watches, watches through other people, watches through clips on other stations, watches repeatedly, watches because one hates it, watches it for good/bad frissons...how does Nielsen measure that? It's all about approach, what you see/don't.

What's on the TV: too much to talk about.

- - - - - - - - - -

*PHOTOS: I didn't want to put up photos of the Edies or Hef's girlfriends, so instead please enjoy shots of:
1) A panda cub.
2) Leslie Ann Warren as Norma Cassady in Victor/Victoria; she's the character who sings "Chicago, Illinois" (the song quoted in the Cahiers header above!)
3) Another panda cub.
4) The only image that's actually relevant here. The portrait of Norma Shearer is by photographer is George Hurrell (I'm obsessed with G. Hurrell, esp. his portraits of her) and at least once on The Girls Next Door a Playboy photog has talked about going for a "George Hurrell" look in one of their photos! GAWD! Have you ever seen anything as *less* GH than Playboy photography? Then I thought: wow, that photog must be really bored. But maybe photographing for PB speeds some other aesthetic plough.
5) Lovely Jack Carson, early in his career.
6) Singin' in the Rain--I have *always* wanted a pair of baby blue ankle straps with bows like Debbie Reynolds'. They would look like holy hell on my swollen feet, but I'm just saying. Aren't they great?

Saturday, October 28, 2006


my name is Liz and I really don't like Hallowe'en. I really don't care about Hallowe'en. As an adult...I am almost completely uninterested in Hallowe'en. These feelings make it a VERY BORING time of the year.

1) I have such a low tolerance for movie gore (I can't always watch Treehouse of Horrors, even--e.g.) that there is basically an entire--not even genre--species--of TV/movie/whatever that I have no interest in, I'm that far out of it 2) candy is candy. I love it, but if Hallowe'en were the only time one coudl have it, it'd be pretty sad 3) I don't have kids, which would change all this, I'm sure, but still I don't, so-- 4) I do like to dress up, but...eh. I dunno...eh. There is an increasingly long time period where I movies, TV shows, even cooking shows get really really boring. The love I had for the holiday as a kid just has not carried over into adulthood. The core ideas of the holiday might interest me, somewhere, but I'm uninterested enough even in bushwhacking through the hype, orange frosting and fake blood.

Is it possible to be bored by something you're terrified by? (horror movies?) If you never even look at them...yes.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Idul kultural kweries.

I am too tired to research these issues. It is after 11:00. I no research no more. Not tomorrow until. But to remember:

1. I wonder the following every time I hear mention of/have the images/trailer/sounds of Flags of Our Fathers tombrokaw-ed into my head: One learns very early on in Film/Media 101 that the gents on Iwo Jima actually had to raise the flag more than once so that photographers COULD GET A GOOD PHOTO OF IT. Is this treated as such in the film? This must have already come up, right?

2. I wonder the following every time I hear mention of/have the images/trailer/sounds of The Queen miramax-wants-an-oscar-ed into my head: For a very long time it was illegal in England to represent the monarchy on stage. And I guess I could be dead wrong, but doesn't it seem like most movies depicting extant monarchy have been American? Anyhow, what happened? This must have already come up, right?

Idle queries. Bombinating in the noggin. A little learning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.


Best of all: baby Corgis.


Also looks hilarious.

Okay, I'll admit it.

(Me and 10,000,000 other people.) I finally watched the first four minutes of Borat that's been YooToobing its way around and I laughed out loud the entire time. Just awful. Just great. AWFUL. Oh my Gawd. I'd been nicely prepped for it by downloading stills for work (even those are funny) but not having read too much about it (I really have to avoid that, esp with things that might be funny). I was really struck, too, by how much funny there was in those 4 minutes--blam, blam, blam. These days most movies'd milk one of those jokes for hours. The point being...I can only hope the rest is as good. I was laughing loud. AWFUL.

p.s. To be totally nerdfully honest, I bet I will like this movie less when it's funny at others' expenses--past the first four minutes--and we get into the hapless American portion of it. I wish it weren't "reality"-based! I can never really let rip and find that kind of thing very funny. Well, we'll see.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A really good use of $.99.

Couldn't live without it for one second longer.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dear Mollie.

So let's talk about TV. I am highly overdue for a highly idiotic, worshipfully tedious, wonkily descriptive love-letter to Mollie Sugden, best known to American audiences and to me for playing Mrs. Slocombe on the TV show Are You Being Served? None of this will reflect that well on me--but you know the blog pledge: semper veritas. You gotta TALK about this embarrassing shit.

They've been showing this Britcom on one of our local PBSs again recently, and although I can recite every word of dialogue along with the shows, up and down, I'm still totally enjoying it. Newly so. The show is lame, stupid, sophomoric, good-hearted, full of dumb jokes, fart jokes, fag jokes, uncomfortable dated vaudeville racism (occasionally I turn the channel), creaking plot construction, badly dated comedy and most every episode manages to work in the word "pussy" for a laugh. I snicker constantly. It's similar to, but not as good as comedies in the tradition of farces like Noises Off--it doesn't go fast or smart enough. But it's still great.

My favorite actor by far is Mollie Sugden, who has the ability to roll words around and out her mouth like chocolate. She's brill. Mrs. Slocombe is the character who makes the constant pussy jokes (she is talking about her cat) that most people who know the show remember. It's so stupid--they're funny every time. Every time! They're not my favorite Slocombe bit, but I love it when her delivery borders on the bizarre: [on the phone] "Hello, Is that Mr. Akbar? Mrs. Slocombe here. Your next-door neighbor. I wonderrrrrrrrum--would you do me a favor? Would you go to my front door, bend down, and look through the letterbox, and if you can see my pussy--would you drop a sardine on the mat?"

Her other catchphrases are "I am unanimous in that!" and "Weak as water!" (Spat out at all the lame, chickenshit men she's surrounded with). She's also hilarious describing her trips to the local pub where she ends up drunk most nights, baffled at how it happened (the tonic's gone bad), or defending herself drunkenly: "I simply slipped down to the corner to buy a packet of cris-ops." She's at her absolute best, though, when the show tackles class stuff the way a dated broad British comedy like AYBS? would: her mien and speech patterns zoom in and out of genteel, trying too hard, dead common, indignant, refahned, full of herself, bawdy, gossipy, pissed-off. They veer, careen.

One of my favorite bits is when she's answering the phone for a coworker and trying to sound posh (there's a lord on the other end) and carefully enunciates: "HOH? Yes? Whom? ...HOWevah, if you wouldn't mind 'angin' on a mo..." It's so fucking hilarious, the way she hits the Hs in all the wrong places, then drops them again a sec later. She has great delivery, great timing. There's one episode where she's in love with the (hopelessly queeny) Mr. Humphries and buying him a pair of gloves; the salesclerk asks her what sort of personality the gentleman has and her answer, after a beat, is just one word: "SUEDE" ("ssswwwwwwaaaaaiiiiiddd-euh"). She packs the 10 second-long word with way too much meaning. It's fabulous.

I love how she makes phrases like that her own. I have found myself chanting "I-joost-don't-CARE-when-I'm-on-the-continent!" more and more (her description of a carefree flutter at middle-class travel) and even put her description of how custard is made as the outgoing message on my answering machine for a while--just because of the sheer pleasure of those round fruity tones: "WELL! Reeaaahhl custard is made with noo-laid eggs, fdrrrresh cdrrrreamy milk, and refahhned cahhstohrrrrr shhhhhhugarr." I can't remotely do it justice.

I can't do her justice! She makes me think about the A.Maupin description from Babycakes of an English woman in a pub: "She was well pasty forty and her makeup had been appled with a trowel, but there was something almost valiant about her cheerfulness as she drank alone, jiggling her large calves to the beat of 'Abracadabra.' She reminded him of one of those jolly barflies from Andy Capp." Without being too serious about it all, there are times when her acting and the observations it conveys seem like they're out of an Ayckbourn play. Or from Sheridan (she'd have made a brilliant Mrs. Malaprop). She's a hopeless mess, Sugden takes her way out far and back, her character is the constant butt of jokes, but there's something kind of noble about her, yes, something valiant. Not sure I would entirely mind being her someday, tetchiness and all.


p.s. The entire boxed set of AYBS? costs $150! That's like...$.50 a buttfuck joke.

p.s.s. I love that when you search for photos of Mrs. Slocombe you get a few of Tammy Fake Bakker, just 'cause. Archetypes.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Kitchen Minutiae.

I've been cooking a lot recently, so please scuse another long rambly kitchen message, not really worthy of the word gastronomic (kitchin thots!) There may even be another recipe, god help us all.

* People always give me crap for not eating the end piece of bread in a sliced loaf, for putting it back over and over until the loaf is finished and then eating it, but I realized recently it serves a purpose--it keeps the other, rotating end pieces from getting stale. If this makes me sound like Debbie Reynolds in Mother (gawd I hated that movie, but I like this idea), talking about the ice cream safety layer, so be it. It is the Protector Slice. I believe in it.

* I'd never really qualify as a serious foodie, or only fitfully, but I have to say I do not get people always using chocolate chips in place of plain chocolate for cooking such as making truffles. It's just not the same substance as real chocolate--more wax, other things. Not the same. Although I am fond of the Ghiradelli 60% cocoa chips.

This is one trend (higher cocoa content) that I am pretty much enjoying, although really--I'm not macha enough for the newly broadly-available Lindt 85%, never have been. Wish I were, but I start to feel like I'm dosing myself with medicine at that level, I think. Oh my gawd, Lindt's also making 99%! Blimey. 99%. What...is the point of that and not 100%? Where does that 1% take you? This is hilarious; one website issues the following recommendation: "To fully appreciate its flavor and texture, we recommend that you progressively develop your palate through our range of high cocoa content chocolate bars, starting with Excellence 70% cocoa, then 85% and finally 99% cocoa." It's like belladonna addicts in the 19th century.

* Was it Erma Bombeck who wrote about the salt syndrome? How she kept buying salt over and over because she knew she was out of it--like six years before? So eventually she had 10,000 boxes of salt, from buying it every time she went shopping? I'm doing that with black beans, and I don't know WHAT's gonna use all these up. Orphanages' worth of soup.

* Okay, how *do* you cook canadianbacon? It looks like ham, but it starts to render when you cook it. Only, you can't render it as far as regular bacon, because then it gets leathery. I guess you grill it more lightly?

(A decent treatment for leftover overdone Canadian Bacon: Two slices sourdough toast, with shavings of melting sharp white cheddar on one side and a slathering of pesto on the other. Sandwich the ODed bacon between and let it soften up for a while, then eat. Yum!)

* I am thrilled to note that I fixed my icemaker today. You know that little restraining bar (looks like) that goes up or down and turns it off or on? It had popped out on one side and I was back to this dangerous sorcerer's-apprentice situation with my icemaker: Constantly churning out cubes that would fly out of the freezer every time I opened the door. More more more more more be careful what you wish for. Anyhow, I finally really fixed it and, um, it's exciting. It really is. Okay, I don't think it really is, even with that...action shot. But at least I can go on vacation now. Seriously. Apartment would have filled up with cubes like a cartoon. Hey, maybe that cute Bugs Bunny penguin would come. I LOVE that penguin.

* I finally had the Texas chili I've been craving--I made it. Not an onion, bean or piece of garlic in sight. Instead lots and lots of cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano, some tomato sauce, and three, count em three, kinds of cow. Tons of it. Chuck, stew meat and ground beef (it was the result of miscalculations, but rilly good). I've been eating it on brown rice for a week and it rawked.

* There is something very...oliversachs-y (I thought to myself this a.m.) about cracking eggs. I always have to *think* about what I'm doing. Is *where* you crack the egg where you put the contents? Or do you crack it where you throw the shell? It sounds stupid, but it's a little noninstinctive. Do I crack these eggs into the bowl they were just in? Does anybody but me understand this? It has something to do with protecting eggs, then smashing them open and needing two immediate homes for the precious contents and shells that are now trash. As I was thinking about all this, I cleanly cracked my first egg right into the sink. Doh! Really dumb.

* I adore bacon-n-eggs, but I am facing, really, why it is so much better to go to the diner for them. It is NOT a quick/easy dish to make. A very simple breakfast of eggs and bacon requires the kind of humming kitchen most people don't have, with constantly going griddles and dealing with the grease and all that. Just making bacon is one of those things that requires a disproportionate number of pans and amount of time. Makes much more sense to be doing this on a grill you're always scraping down. Same with eggs. It's like how a printing press works better once it's going than when it's starting--the 10,000th printing will be better than the 3rd. It's hard to make good bacon-n-eggs from start in a cold kitchen. Much better as part of a larger day-long egg-n-bacon production, than a one-off.

* I made my favorite tuna salad tonight. Wrote-a-song-about-it-wanna-hear-it-here-it-goes:

- one can of good tuna, the solid kind
- lots of celery
- mayo
- dijon mustard
- poppy seeds
- fresh lemon or lime juice

Drain the tuna. Isn't that a pain? I get so tired of doing that. Water gets all over. Anyhow. Put in bowl and flake up with a fork. Take 3-4 ribs of celery, cut each lengthwise in two, then chop very thinly. Yum. Add to bowl. Shake in poppy seeds and squeeze in the juice from one small lime or lemon. Then put in a tip-of-the-fork-full of mustard and a spoonful of mayo. Stir up, check the consistency, add a little more mayo if necessary. I really like eating this right away, when the celery still has that transitory crunchy extreme thinness. It's great on pumpernickel toast or stoned wheat thins, or straight out of the bowl with a fork.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lil squidie foodgie things.

1. The ending preposition "off" has infiltrated the language of home-cooking for good, it seems--from the restaurant world. Hear it all the time now. "Bake these off"--"sear these off." "Make them ahead, then cook them off at the last minute." Repercussions?

2. I am willing to bet a very large amount of money that increased rates of diabetes in this country can in many cases be traced directly back to the "low-fat" craze of the 90s. When processed food was de-fatted, enormous amounts of sugar were added to compensate.

3. Banquet "Crock Pot Classics": isn't this an awfully defeatist product? Meat and veggies that have been processed to cook faster so that...they can be cooked slowly in a crock pot? Dehydrating to reconstitute? Raw to cooked to raw to cooked? Seems redundant. Futile. Wouldn't you rather put a carrot in a crock pot than a pre-cooked carrot in a crock pot?

4. The Recipe Book of the Mustard Club that I recently got (penned by Dorothy L. Sayers and allegedly also her husband; maybe some others at Benson's advert agency) turns out to be more than just a Sayers curiosity: it's a decent little cookbook! Has a lot of sound ideas and methods. Granted, it also has lots of anachronistic dishes like Jugged Hare, Roast Bacon, Bread Sauce and Alderman's Walk (I'm loving this stuff), but in general it's a solid little book. The real testament to this: Rather than filing it with other Sayers books, I'm actually going to keep it in the kitchen with the COOKBOOKS. The recipe for Welsh Rabbit is kind of genius. And I really want to try "Ham in Hades"; the receet ends: "If he doesn't like it--get a divorce."

5. A lovely, fiscally manageable indulgence: good butter. I've been living with a lil block of Lurpak Danish butter the last couple of weeks, and it is great with pasta, toast, eggs, whatever. DEElish. It makes me remember the best butter I ever had, which was at one of the Bartolotta restaurants in Milwaukee, at a wedding, and it was astonishing what an effect it had (gastronomically and otherwise!). Unbelievable! One of those Things.

And just to prove that I don't love quite *everything* MFK Fisher (wait--did you ask?) I am going to post my recipe for Oeufs Brouillés à la mode de Non, um, Pêcheuse. Good Butter is key here, as is borrowing from the style of/ her prose directly ("lump of butter"--hello).

In Me 'Umble O.
(The Anti-Fisher Egg)

Begin by beating 2/3 eggs in a bowl with some salt and pepper with a fork. You want to work thoroughly and carefully, breaking the yolks, incorporating as you go, working and flicking the wrist so as to rise to the challenge--never, however, racing through the process and creating excess foam. Incorporating whites and yolks is not an automatic process; they don't want to naturally emulsify. You must work and work and build and gradually get them really well-incorporated, evenly-colored, changing your angle of attack so that you're not sending the same unincorporated whites around and around in a path through the yolks. I add a little water to the bowl, maybe a Tbsp. or two. The salt in the S&P also helps break down the eggs (try salting a raw egg yolk sometime with a salt shaker that has an unsafely attached top--you'll see). You will probably need a bigger bowl for this than you think.

In the interim--more or less once you've started beating the eggs, but not rushing it--heat a clean big pan very hot. I like to use my copper fish pan and my gas burner on furnace blast. As the pan is heated (again, very hot, but not too hot), add a lump of butter and swirl it around as it sizzles and melts. I like salted butter.

As soon as the butter has stopped sizzling, at that very identifiable moment--that sudden silence, the caesura, before it gets geared up to start browning, but don't you let it--give the eggs which you've been keeping mixed with fitful stirs of the fork a final flick and pour them in. That is the moment to do it. The noise will start again. Sizzle sizzle. Immediately begin pulling down the cooked egg from the sides and bottom of the pan with a spatula or some implement, incorporating the curds with the uncooked egg.

Work fast but not frantically, keeping pace with the rapidly cooking egg. In less than 30 seconds you will be done--perfect Eggs à la Liz are done in enough time for the pan handle to not even get too hot to touch. Keep stirring up the eggs, working to that moment where the eggs are ALMOST all coming together. At that point turn off the heat with a sassy twist of the wrist, and let the residual heat of the pan do that last bit of cooking as you stir, to that exact moment just on the other side of liquid--when there is no runniness in the egg, just soft, perfectly cooked curds.

This technique is guaranteed to result in very fluffy, hot, flavorful, not in any way nastily over- or undercooked eggs, the kinds with either too nutty, cooked-smelling brown bits (blech) or runny gross melty eggy liquid (blech). They are perfect with piping hot buttered toast (or on it), or with a salad. Also good with a little Parmesan folded in, or herbs. Somehow I like them plain best of all, though.

As with all good recipes, this has converted a few people. Can't guarantee it, though.

~ fin ~

~ hic ~

p.s. These scrambled eggs take about 28-1/2 minutes fewer than Fisher's.

GGirls p.s. + North Dakota + props

* It was Logan's *right* paw that seemed to be doing odd things below the surface of the desk, not his left one (it was "stage left"). Either something really weird was going on there, there were technological problems, or I'm the perv with the most lurid imagination in the history of TV.

* I don't feel like I explained this well, but the biggest soap-opera style jerryrigging *was* the total abandonment of the Lorelai & Luke connection...but it still works.

* Shall I gather up all my idiotic Gilmore Girls ramblings into a beautiful handsewn book called Pensées, printed just for friends and family, like ladies of leisure in the 19th cent? Hah! I'm a little tired of hearing myself talk about it. But I guess we all have to have an outlet, and I have only an abstract appreciation at the moment for the Tigers.

- - -

I sometimes think I'm missing something by not moving *to* North Dakota, taking advantage of the population drain to mercenarily buy up land/invest in the future. Give it 200-300 years...you know it'll be worth something. Okay, that's one dumb reaction to that situation. Another is total amazement at the wild sort of gothick state of affairs in an emptying state like that--a few weeks ago I heard some stories from an ND friend whose family is still hanging on there and they were really fascinating. Another reaction is: maybe THIS is where I can finally build the folly I've been waiting my whole life to indulge in. Forget the Hudson Valley--who could afford that. Although, the cold. The cold... The wind would rip my hand-glued shells and fancy paint off the house so fast... In any case, you just *know* that things will flip around for that state. Eventually. This world is too crowded for it not to. And as always gets pointed out--the per capita political power is heady.

- - -

Remember the name Kirsten Major. Just saying. You should!

I want one.

Usual mishmosh.

Okay, I'm sorry, I'm beating the deadest hiphop horse ever, but part of what I like about that Big Daddy Kane tribute is the sight of LL Cool J and Melle Mel singing along like total fanboys. TOTAL fanboys. Chairdancing, rapping along, comin in hard on the most famous bits. Hilarious and sweet. Okay, thank you. I could possibly be done talking about this (one year later), although I did watch it four more times at work today. Insane. Ah...what did I do before YooToob?!?!?!? Must go watch the sleeping kitten. AWWSLEEPINGKITTEN!

Can we (related) predict when the flat top/fade is gonna come back? Equation: 5-6 more years for distancing (long enough for Arsenio to acquire a new context), using the every-20-years model for recycling of styles + 2 more years for irony + a few more years to allow white folk to indulge in some similar hair-dos minus a few years for the increasing speed at which we re-embrace fashions of the past....say, December 15, 2014. Gonna be so cool.

How did somebody as fundamentally mediocre as Donald Trump become the icon for all that it is extreme (big rich ya!) in this country? He ain't actually the richest guy in the country, even in NY; he has a horrible speaking voice; no charisma; the worst cotton candy hair ever; an inabilty to look directly in the camera--just the most kindasorta blippity-blah enh heh yuck so-so yenh na-ja so-so comme ci-comme ca dude ever. His commercials for this big increase-the-wealth seminar he's part of are hilarious! He sounds like a used-car salesman. Which is what he sounds like to me when he's showing someone around Mar-A-Lago too, frankly. Just don't get it. Maybe I'm just tired of the enormous monument to his dick-or-lack-of that is constantly blocking traffic in my neighborhood. (WHY oh why do we need that thing here in Chicago??? I am appalled, as an archiChicachauvanist. Between that and the Macy's-ing of Marshall Field's I may never go near the south bend of the river or the Loop ever again. WRAWR!)

More littry nibbles: I was thinking...maybe next time I go to the UK I will get to go to a E.F. Benson event of some variety in Rye. And maybe Tom Holt will be there! Okay, I've never read any of his Lucia books--it's not fair, but I lump them in with other the-author's-dead-but-let's-keep-the-franchise-going books like Mrs. DeWinter (GAWD!) or Scarlett (BLASPHEMY!)--but I bet it would be interesting. And I could ask him all about his mother, who happened to be B. Pym's literary executor and biographer (and an author herself)--in fact, there's a very poignant journal entry toward the end of BPym's life describing when she gave a college-age Tom Holt an idea for a story to write (which he did). Then I could daisy-chain from author to author, compare the food the Janeites serve to the atmosphere at the D.L. Sayers confab to the accommodations at the Forster conference...

I MUST see the parade of the fairy penguins on Phillip Island, Australia before I get too much older. Must! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins! Fairy penguins.

My endless fascination with ethnicities and the ways actors play with them came to a head today with: Sam Waterston! I had always thought of him as a superWASP, but then I heard more than a few people say he was Jewish. I was thinking...is he so WASPy he's a Jew? Like John Waters describes some women as being so straight they're drag queens? No, turns out he's a superWASP after all, one of God's frozen people (although his character in Killing Fields was Jewish?). Anyhow. I always find it kind of fascinating, what at its most contemporary extreme Vincent Canby called "ethnic makebelieve"--in that case about Alec Guiness' role in A Passage to India which was kinda the last of those artistically well-intentioned but almost 'black-face' roles...they've now been subsumed into a slightly different formula. Toned-down, but still about passing and not passing on some level. I guess I'm always fascinated at who admits to being something and who doesn't. Maybe *personal armchair psych* it's because I am 1/4 Jewish to 3/4 WASP, which I didn't really know about it until I was in my college years (resulting in a lifetime of fascination and celebrity nosiness?). My grandfather was in some ways the classic second-generation immigrant trying to Pass (converted, married a shiksa goddess, Naval Academy, full catastrophe). It's not that I fault him for it exactly--I just never got to really ask him about this enormous thing.

- - - -

Okay, Gilmore Girls was on tonight. A new one. I'M SORRY I GOTTA GET IT OUT, YO.

Well, it was done at the expense of the suspension of disbelief and with a major dip into gravity-free, soap opera-style willy-nilly time-telescoping plot/character/emphasis overhaul (among other breathtaking changes: Emily and Richard for now just jolly pills in the background), just to restart the engine, but the show finally got some juice going. Like...what's gonna happen next? I actually wanted to know. I also thought:

* Man, Lauren Graham and Scot Patterson look just thrilled to be released from having to pretend they like each other. He was SMILING. She was pretending to be ATTRACTED to somebody. Could that be the MAIN reason for the malaise of last season? Rather than just a contributing one?

* It took me 6 or 7 tries to actually watch this damn episode because of the opening riff on Snakes on a Plane. It added to the excruciating quality that this kinda GG chatter has that they took on a phenom with such a short lifespan...just couldn't bear to listen to it. Kept stopping the tape! (Related query: Do you think they showed Funny Face--without Audrey dancing in her peglegs--as a slap at the new dumb Audrey Hepburn commercials? Or just 'cause? And WHO STOPPED/STARTED the projector? Do they know it takes a person to do that? Not to mention I'd think that'd be at least a couple reels...somebody would have to change them. *NERDY FILM GAFFE HONK*)

* Er, what was Logan doin with his left hand while he was on the phone?

* Rory kinda boring as hell and blandums. Not sure about these new arty friends. But I liked that writers made Paris a campus-legend type--that was right. And at least they're *trying*.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Warm it up, Scoob'!

1. Can't. Stop. Watching. Big. Daddy. Kane! Really love the way the energy builds in that 5 minutes. TI to Black Thought to Common to BDK! *nerdy honk* I've said it before but WHY does that man wear shades now? (in addition to the I've-gained-weight schmatte?) Why why why? He has the eyes of a Byron.


I spent a lot of the weekend fighting the work-is-a-petrie-dish cold (victory: maybe? armies of Zicam and Emergen-C deployed), so I don't have anything intelligent to say about anything except that I finally read the Bill Buford article about the Food Network in The New Yorker and it was the usual mix of interesting, thought-provoking, and my least favorite flavor, the snooty clueless media Hmmm...I've never heard of this fascinating new thing called ________ [rap, iPods, hiphop, country music, Skittles, Coca-Cola, whatever--something popular] and I have every right to write long and not educate myself first. That pop kulture thing. In this case it was: Hmmm...wot is this Food Network? I would have found it much more interesting if he had talked to people who watch it 5 hours a day and worship Rachael Ray than departed programming execs. Duh.

Also: I do NOT entirely buy the idea--and I should, theoretically--that it's sad to see Mario Batali and Sara Moulton's contracts not renewed. Both of those people never got less annoying on their shows. Sara Moulton got somewhat less nervous, but she was still nervy and especially so if there was anybody on screen with her, hustling them along, interrupting them, getting freaked about coming in on time. I liked the information she had to impart, more than many, but I felt like she never got enough levels above nervous wreck for me to sink into her show. And Molto Mario, with what was possibly the most annoying grating screeching theme song ever (played in and out of EVERY interstitial, too), was totalment annoying too. He talked at 120 mph, gave slippery Italian pronunciations to things that were unintelligible, and was generally kind of off-puttingly pedantic and over-fast, not in a fascinating way. I didn't feel like he had much rapport with anybody other than himself (I liked his Ciao America show, though--other people talked). Note: this all has nothing to do with my feelings about offal. I applaud his work in the weird little animal bits department.

I *don't* like the Food Network's move towards infotainment--it's boring and repetitive and dumbed-down. (The actual cooking being done has less and less connection to any particular cuisine, as well--I could go for a rigorously French or Thai or something show.) I'm actually starting to watch America's Kitchen with christoherkimball and his Sub-Deb Kitchen Bitches. It's gotten looser and more interesting. I'll even watch New Scandinavian Cooking, with Andreas Viestad and his hilariously halting English pulled out of him in repetitive blurts that is usually so offputting I can't watch it despite my total fascination. In short: I watch the Food Network less and less. I *do* want to see chefs, more than amateur-types, amateur-chefs or Emerils. I really like learning something, however I do so. But Mario and Sara never had a lock-down birthright on being the chefs in question, if you ask me. It's still only a little over 10 years since the network was launched: I'm not ready to weep for the passing of the old guard yet.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

GG p.s.

Mom noticed that David Sutcliffe (Christopher) called Lauren Graham "Lauren" instead of "Lorelai" in his big speech on Tuesday night! (This is on Gilmore Girls.) Wahoo! I checked--she was totally right. Too interestin--

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Robin Williams makes too many movies.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ooh, ahh, nah-nah-nah.

I don't want to sound like one of those women with a Magnum, P.I. poster in her cubicle who spends all her weekends gettin down on Diet 7-Up and vodkas at Chippendale's, but please swit Jesus keep Gilmore Girls on the air so we can continue to see Logan Huntsberger I mean Matt Czuchry rollin around in bed without his shirt. Good golly. We waited way too long for that. I can't find an image of the scene at the moment, so I'm not even gonna besmirch its memory with a clothed shot.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I am out of the habit of Bloggin'; a function of being out sick from work for over two weeks and unhooking from--I feel the urge to inaccurately call it the glass teat, but that's not it--it's more of an email waterfall, an informational waterfall, the deluge, the constant pellet-reward system that is command-M, more more more click point click point total overload it's like a jungle sometimes. This is another way of saying: I've had about 14,000 transitory bloggin' thoughts without the habit of documenting them (other than me new books) in the last few weeks. But I can say this:

Rice News:
1. Do not microwave organic EnviroKidz crispy rice bars--they become as mortar and meld with the plate.
2. Lundberg's Wild Blend Country Brown rice blend RAWKS. Rilly good.

Architecture News:
1. Sleeping With the Enemy: modern architecture is bad.
2. North by Northwest: modern architecture is in the midwest.

The trailer for Marie Antoinette:
1. announces that it's based on a true story. This is funny (oh THAT Marie Antoinette).
2. is pritty and makes me think that SC owes a lot to the DP on this AND Lost in Translation (Lance Acord).

Housekeeping is about the art of:
1. throwing things away and
2. very little else, really.

Because I have been home sick, I can now comment on the Rachael Ray talk show. Yes. There are two things you need to know:
1. Her wardrobe designers have decided to give her a waist (belts now around middle, not low on hips).
2. RR still does not know she doesn't have to YELL to be heard in millions of American homes. It's hugely wearing.

Steve Perry:
1. is Portugese-American (who knew)
2. was a constant source of amusement to my in my snotty teens, but I am now all-a-thwilled when I hear his voice (in songs I like). It is still a little excruciating in songs I hate.

Music you wouldn't think would make you tear up (but it did me recently):
1. Der Hölle Rache from Zauberflöte
2. something fairly embarrassing.

I kinda forgot, when I commented on Nigella Lawson before, that I was already acquainted with the UK Print Media Nigella (many words spilled) vs the TV temptress version, I think because the two versions are so *separate*. In England, where she is a constant tabloid fixture, there are endless articles and interviews dissecting the difference between the interviewee/journalist NL vs. the semi-seriously-goofy NL persona she unwittingly projects on TV from under her eyelids. I wish (random thought) she'd talk more about the Lyons Corner Houses (never seen an article where they got into that), but what I can say about her new show now, having seen it, is:
1. Her tongue-tyin' foodie-luv is a little precious
2. but I've also never heard anybody use the word "deliquescent" on TV (describing stinky cheese) and it was fine.

The Humboldt penguin is disappearing because people harvest the penguin guano they use to build their nests. I have this image of a pissed-off queeny penguin with its flipper on its hip, rolling its eyes and saying, "Can't they leave ANYTHING alone..." Poor pengies. Two things to know:
1. You can't tell what gender a penguin is from just looking at it. That's kinda fun.
2. George Bush sucks.

Camille Charlotte Beachaump Vale Livingston Jaquith Durrance (Mrs. Jerome)

Friday, October 06, 2006

More gambolings.

I'm so thwilled! I just got all three of the Keith Preston books I ordered and they're just gorgeous. More than that, they're brill on the inside too--I'm so excited to own these (The Top o' the Column, Pot Shots From Pegasus and Types of Pan). Need to get the other two (two?) someday. I remember visiting copies in the top floor of the Harold Washington Library ten years ago when I first got obsessed with Preston, which, like many, started when I read the famous lil poem "The Liberators":

Among our literary scenes,
Saddest this sight to me,
The graves of little magazines
That died to make verse free

...and, like many, used it for a frontispiece quote (this case in my zine). That was before the days of crazydelicious antiquarian booksellin' on the web. Never thought I'd actually own some Prestons. Whee! He really is wonderful--and contemporary. Not to mention (see, it all relates)--Pascal Covici/Covici Friede published two of these books, Donald Friede being, of course, MFKF's third husband. Always been kind of fascinated with Pat Covici, and not really for the Steinbeck angle.

Anyhow, how fun. My copy of The Top o' the Column has got fountain pen-ed comments from a student from 1926. Here's one ("Pop Criticism"):

Of books how few
We find just right;
Some are too-too
And some not quite.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Literary gambolings*

I all of a sudden became consumed with curiosity about the origins of the foreword to the 1977 edition of E.F. Benson's Mapp & Lucia series the other day. I had always idly wondered, but all of a sudden I wondered. This is the one with the particularly horrid, off-base cover. (Lots of those with Benson--ridick.)

The foreword is by Anne Parrish--less ubiquitous and well-known than the Nancy Mitford introduction which followed the reissues into the 1980s. The point being: Anne Parrish--who Anne Parish? At first I thought it might be the American novelist who was the sister of Dillwyn Parrish, MFK Fisher's second husband, both of them distant cousins of Maxfield P. I remembered that passage from MFKF's journal (Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me) about Benson, which was written while she was married to DP: "...today I slew a literary god--or demigod. I perceived at last that E.M. Forster . . . is but an intellectual E.F. Benson. That is praise--but for what Forster once meant to me, it means damnation indeed."

But I finally did a little more research into A. Parrish, and discovered she died in 1957 (note: AP, like many players in MFKF's life, not really given full shrift in the context of her world, at least in the telling). And given the language of the foreword, it seems really unlikely that it's the same A. Parrish, although she talks about meeting him, experiencing the famous "I am Miss Mapp" comment in his garden room at Rye, and Benson died in 1940.

So I don't know! I've posited the question to the listserv--we'll see what the answer is. Funny literary linkings. I also-renoticed that "The Male Impersonator" story that's usually included in Make Way for Lucia these days was done so at the instigation of Edward Gorey. He once said in an interview that he couldn't really reread the Mapp & Lucia books one more time--he had just gobbled them to bits from overuse. I often feel like that, but find that leaving them alone for a while usually works pretty well--they recharge (as Armistead Maupin noted about porn!). I am in the middle of Mapp and Lucia and it's so delicious I can't stand it.

Unrelated: I've been getting my Dorothy Sayers society literature and am getting more excited about next year's conference. But I'm worried: I don't care about Dante and am not sure how much I'll have to be into this to have fun. We'll see!

*Gambolings...very E.F. Benson. I think Piggy and Goosie gambol.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Videos I watch over and over (the internet is great)

Things that make me happy. Candy.

- The trailer for Roll Bounce; specifically, the teaser trailer that opens and closes with Bill Withers' "Lovely Day" and has no voiceover
- The video of Mo'nique's "Crazy in Love" dance that opens the 2004 BET Awards
- Barack Obama's keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention
- Bill Clinton's recent excoriation of Chris Wallace
- The tribute to Big Daddy Kane on the most recent Hip-Hop Honors