Monday, April 30, 2007

The Paper is not the worst movie in the world, it is not even the worst Ron Howard movie ever. It's really not bad. It cravenly, Howardly, uses childbirth to give too much aww to its denouement, but I have to say I found it even rather...realistic, really. May I say that and not sound like a dope? What can I say, I did. I'd seen it before, this film, but not really since workin at a paper myself, so now I know.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Misery of Dysgeusia

Sandra Lee just added a tablespoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of cinnamon extract to just one container of store-bought frosting. That would taste so horrible and over-done. Or maybe it wouldn't. I don't know.

For the last nine days I haven't been able to taste right. I don't mean that I have the stuffed-nose can't-taste cold/flu problem, I mean--nothing tastes right. When the phenomenon begins to descend, you want to send back your food and ask other people to try it, because you're so sure something's wrong outside yourself. But gradually you's you. You're off.

It's the most amazingly disorienting and frankly, depressing, phenomenon. Sweet tastes sour, salty tastes bland, nothing tastes like "itself." Not only that, nothing tastes good, either. And since it's not accompanied by a distorted sense of smell, it's even more disorienting. Things taste bad only as they hit your tongue.

It feels like a curse. You start to wonder if you could survive without this sense in life and think longingly of parsing the delicate flavors in mundane, processed food, much less the most delicious things you know. It's awful! Not to mention I'm not even sure if I'd taste if something had gone bad now. I'd probably smell it, I don't know if I'd taste it.

I don't have anything subtle and conclusive to say about this curse. Not until it's gone, at least. No delicate little essay about the meaning of Smell, about living in one's head and memory. I can't even enjoy living in the land of magazine/TV/cookbook food right just sucks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I dunno, I don't know enough about Dr. Andrew Weil to know where and how I should be cynical about him, but I rather enjoyed watching him placidly bat away Colbert's stupid baiting questions last night with a wise but kind of distant look in his eye. Nothing weird to see here, folks. At the moment I have a lot of Weil Rescue Fantasies, frankly. He embodies the kind of thinkin that despite my best efforts I have go get and peck at in dribs and drabs, information and oversight that comes from too many places, not one. This is my second bloggitudinous clue that I have been sick recently. Not only is it going to take me a while to recover from this recent bought of illness, there is a background health problem waiting that's gotta be attended to. Very unModern life. It has its own demands. Hence slightly easier fantasies of Weil-supervised restcures...

This is gonna be interesting.

Monday, April 23, 2007

oh geez David Halberstam died. in a car crash. oh sad.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Black Bean Soup de l'├ęchec

(this will be fine if you eliminate the last step)

• Cut half of a 1-1/2 lb wodge of frozen thick-cut bacon (much easier frozen) into lardons--cross-wise, then in half again. Wing the opaque fatty planks (they'll separate while cooking) into a cold stock pot, in this case the big pitted thin enameled alumnimum pan that any foodie would be ashamed to make soup in but somehow never gets replaced* [NOTE THIS FACT IT WILL BE IMPORTANT LATER]. Turn on low/medium low.

• Once the bacon has rendered and become very very crisp (stir a few times to encourage separation), after maybe half hour to 45 minutes, remove the bacon to a soup plate, draining it from the rendered fat.

• Toss in two one-lb. packages of ground chicken breast, along with salt and pepper, into the bacon fat. Break up the meat, and stir occasionally, keeping it broken up, as it cooks.

• Prepare vegetables in a rough chop. Something like this: two red onions, two green peppers, four carrots, five/six cloves of garlic. Puree the vegetables in batches, along with (total) two bottles of Goose Island IPA. Add the vegetable purees to the chicken in the pot as they are done.

• Add spices. This time: cumin, sage, paprika, oregano. Whatever.

• Now puree three cans black beans and one supplementary can of cannelini (if you run out of black) in the same fashion, using 1/2 of a 2 c. can of low-sodium chicken stock. Wing all those in the pan too. Stir stir stir. (Why all the puree-ing? And before the sauteeing? [which would be better] The main reason, other than a really old blender that might not be able to keep up, is the strong memory of food-processing cups of hot pasta fazool that after a big superheated explosion meant you were cleaning pureed bean mortar off your kitchen wall for years).

• Add the lardons back in and bring to simmer.

• Prepare for garnish: lime juice and lime wedges, more salt & pepper as necc, sour cream, and strips of tortilla. Tabasco, maybe, a lil Worchestire to finish seasoning. Any fresh herbs if you can find them, esp. cilantro.

* OH YEAH! If you don't have the required heavy-bottomed soup stock pot, DON'T TURN THE HEAT UP TOO HIGH! Instead of boiling, it will BURN. And the acrid burned taste will permeate the entire soup. And leave you sad and greiving, two hours of your life gone, your cats confused, and you short two bottles of really good ale and some very spendy bacon. $)*@&%)($*&%@)($*&)! C'est la freakin guerre.

virgin tour

Hanne is one of the most amazing public speakers I've ever heard...well worth seeing if you're in NYC or Boston this month:

• At Bluestockings, New York City 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington
Wednesday, April 25th @ 7PM - Free

• At the Harvard Bookstore, 1256 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, MA, sponsored by the Center for New Words
Friday, April 27 @ 6:30PM

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I would like to enroll in a PhD American Studies program and write a comprehensive examination of the meaning and role of the Chippendale's Dancers in 20th century American life and I'm not entirely joking.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I honestly do not think I've ever had so much to do in my entire life. Insane. So now I think it's time to watch "Dick in a Box."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Ninon Splains It All for You

I have bought this book: Life, Letters, and Epicurean Philosophy of Ninon de L'Enclos, The Celebrated Beauty of the Seventeenth Century, by (well) Ninon de L'Enclos. I have decided I'm going to understand Men. Or women, and thus, men.
Craving, desperately needing, for far too long: WHOLE-GRAIN MUSTARD. Thank you.
My camera is healed, and to prove it I have collected 12 of my recent most completely dumb-ass and unawake expressions for show-n-tell. Note: One of these is not me. She is, in fact, the lady who sings this blog's theme song (hint).
Someone told me recently that Rick Steves is a big supporter of marijuana decriminalization. It turns out not only is he that, he's on the advisory board of NORML (quoth Rick: "It's kind of fun to take a trip without having to travel.") This fact makes me really happy, and I can't quite explain why. It's not because I care so much about pot. And he makes a fair amount of sense, but it's not about that either. It just makes me happy. The same way that finding out "You Oughta Know" is about Dave Coulier makes me happy. Hee HEE! Hee HEE!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


A switch has been flipped in my brain and I am on my way to never being able to say it correctly again (I keep calling it the cavatappi tower), but before it vanishes from my brain completely: Santiago Calatrava's spire, what the FUCK! This thing is going up--is supposed to go up--ONE block from me. I live one of the last human-sized buildings in this little bit of lake/river intersection, across from the adorably frumpy/peaceful Ogden Slip, all of which will be dominated/overwelmed by/penis-whipped by this hilariously cliched big, outsized, anomalous gigunda spike wedged into the earth's crust.

It feels, I will just say, very not "forever open, free and clear"! I don't know what else to say but holy shit.

Come Visit Chicago: The Enchanted Penis Forest by the Lake.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Prediction: In 30 years, when it's cool, people will acknowledge that the "Something Good" sequence in Sound of Music is as Disney-sexy as the George/Mary phone sequence is Capra-sexy. Yeah, I said it.
I live across the street from the most hilariously gourmet grocery store in the world. Fairly tiny, although not NY-real estate tiny, and every square inch packed with 10 bizillion choices, making it the last possible place I can imagine going to for actual Grocery Shopping, or staples (too funny to think about). It's the kind of store that sells three different darknesses of Muscovado sugar and tiny plastic containers of a quail's eggs. This store is for what dear darling perspicacious Barbara Pym called a "surge"; a random pass-through/surge-through a store with no real aim in mind. Indeed, I feel very much like A Glass of Blessings' Wilmet Forsyth when I'm there, wandering through the aisles and realizing I'm just hoping to get out without losing too much money or mobility (my back always goes nuts there, I don't know why).

Tonight I got out with one thing that was actually on my "to-buy" list, which is amazing: poppy seeds, and that's as practical as I got (have to have poppy seeds for tuna salad!). Among other purchases: imported soppressata, a pepperoni from Molinari's (why? I'm going to have to make a pizza now or something, or 12,000 gallons of pea soup--it's too spicy as is), Rocky Road ice cream manufactured by a man whose political beliefs I can't get with, in a vague inaccurate nod to Passover and the Friday sundown outside (HAPPY PESACH, EVERYBODY) thick cut challah (doh! leavening) and four pre-made latkes--a total extravagance, and the most adorable bag of key limes you've EVER SEEN.

I wish so much my camera was working because if you saw even a bad photo of the limes, you'd know why I bought them. Just gorj. They were literally glowing in their mesh bag, two or three dozen, all green-yellow balls and jewel-like. What I'm going to do with them I don't know. But I don't mind the challenge. In the meantime I eat challah with butter (one of life's best things) and think about my grandfather and wonder if he ever thought his grandchildren would want to know later what he did with his Judaism. Where'd he put it?
When I finally broke down and got this Mac last summer, it took me a little while to figure out...I had a camera. You know, the little cameras at the tops of all the new Macs--they all have built-in iSight. I immediately, as required by law, took hundreds of photos of myself. And my ass (humans do that, you know--any new form of technlogy/recording devices: photos of your ass). Mostly my face, because the camera sucks, really, and can only handle the things right in front of it. Anyhow, hundreds of photos that seemed oh so different in the taking but lined up are just a blizzard of my tired pale face in a marching array of goofball expressions.

The thing is: it was kinda fun, a little weirdly addictive. I tend to run out of the house with my hair wet and without looking in a mirror, so it was kind of a way to check in with myself when I was online. See how things were going, if the earrings matched. Take my 900,000th photo of the chin fat/fat face and see what it was, how things were lining up. See how a dress fit. Also...I found it a good fat girl tool. To stay connected to what I actually look like in all its glory (I don't have any other cameras right now). Also just goofy bored mild narcissism. Also a way to--for instance--show a friend how a new necklace she had sent me looked. That kinda stuff. Fun lil things.

The reason I know I was finding it a little weirdly addictive is that it suddenly seems to be broken! In all the problems/updating/restarting/drive-cleaning I've done since my MySpace I get nothing when I turn on my iSight. Just a weird eerie glow in the corner. And I'm at a loss! I was so used to, when I wanted to.

No mas. How the hell am I going to know if my lipstick is--well, was--on right? Or..whatever. Maybe this will be a good thing; maybe I'll get more productive. Spend less time taking 20 different photos of a tryout hairdo and more time doing work. I dunno. It's funny how used you can get to the computer screen watching you back, after years of just...watching.


(in re: the post below)

There is nothing unexpected about the overConsumption of romance novels creating (what Troy McClure would call) a romantic abnormality, by the way; the unexpectedness in this instance comes from the very specific nature of the resultant problem. One very odd little thing. Not your obvious knight-on-white-horse sitch.

Oh, what could it be? (the people wonder) I'll tell you. It's one of these: a) I only date men who wear Hessian boots polished with champagne while I in turn don empire-waisted Eau de nil silk gowns that show off my slight, girlish--well, boyish--figure to distraction b) my romantic life is full of Three's Company plot twists and misunderstandings that should make me insane with impatience but instead make me sated with dysfunctional happiness c) every metaphor in my life has to do with horses d) none of the above.

Two thoughts.

1. I have recently identified a very specific way in which reading too many romance novels In My Yoot caused me emotional harm. I feel a little like a master diagnostician finding some disease's unlikely wacky root cause (here is where I should mention House, right?): tis interesting as well as alarming. Now to pluck it out, like playing "Operation." I hope. Probably more complicated than that.

2. Being precocious never gets you anywhere. There isn't one life lesson I haven't had to learn down at the Furthest Extreme of its potential existence, methinks. Despite Knowing things, occasionally. Makes no difference, knowing things, or--as I'm saying--knowing things seemingly Early.

It's a little alarming how often I'm quoting from You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again. But I do. That last idea makes me think about a bit in the book where she at the absolute end of her free-basing rope, has burned up everything in her life, over and over, every bridge, weighs 80 lbs or something...she is in a freebasing researcher's office trying to rationalize going clean, figure out what's going to make her do it now when absolutely every other thing hasn't, and he is saying, "Intelligence is a survival tool." And she's thinking yes, but...look at me. That's life. Being precocious can be a little like having all the tools to--do otherwise, do better--something--at your disposal but still shaking from addiction and pain in some stranger's office anyhow.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I'm so tired of sitting shivah for the death of consumer products. The whole ritual is so familiar. You go to the Walgreen's (yes, I know, that definite article; very Chicago), or flip through a catalog, and suddenly there's this ominous, but very familiar groping about in a suddenly empty space. Oh no. They're not making....____ anymore. My brand. My special kind of brand. My version of the brand. You look, and look, and know that this is the beginning of a period of futile wishing, of hoping you'll even write aletter to complain about the loss of the one thing you've found that so perfectly keeps yer pits dry/moisturizes yer face/compliments your skin tone, and know that even if you got it together to do's all over. It's all over except hanging on to the packaging for too long in the hopes that it might help you urban-archevate it someday. Recognize it if you saw it.

The newest loss? Clean & Clear facial wash for sensitive skin. Cheap, effective, good for my skin. I'm not up for navigating the Greek that is the dance of will-I-pay-this-price? beauty-product buying.

More first-world angst: It is a sad time of the year for me when my super-convenient free city trolley that whips me down the 10/12 blocks to my home suddenly becomes the over-burdened, hyper-slow, tourist-laden, misanthropy-inducing, lumbering milk run of a charabanc that is more trouble than it's worth. Ah spring. Fucking tourists.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Herbie baby.

I am overdue for a big, fan-girl Kvell about Chicago DJ Herb Kent, who is without any hyperbole at all the best DJ in the world.

I feel sad and embarrassed that early on as I was learning to write for newspapers and not for myself I both interviewed Herb Kent and went to his big birthday bash at the Hyatt and didn't manage to pull together a story out of either event. The problem, of course, was that there was way too much to write about and in the end I felt ill-qualified to even let him speak for himself! Way too much there. He's been in radio since the 1940s, surfed and directed flows of every kind of music, was an original VON DJ at the epicenter of the civil rights movement, knows everything there is to know about stepping, hosted a punk-out show in the early 80s...but all that makes him sound like an embalmed Beloved Entertainment Personality, which is the exact opposite of how I've experienced him. He is a workin DJ, not a guy who's been humored into his twilight years. Nothing twilight about him.

I moved to Chicago in 1988, the year that he started at v103, so that's mostly how I've experienced him. He has kept me company on the weekends for a LONG TIME. I have listened to him trash-talk during the battle of the bands on Sunday for a LONG TIME. And when I moved downtown and could no longer get any station on my radio, I finally was able to listen to him on my computer (like now), because the dude is totally au courant technologically. At the same time that he's all about the dusties, paradoxically. Yes.

The other thing that 20 years of Herb Kent has provided me is a decent education in soul and R&B. I already liked and knew something about it, to what degree I dunno, but there is a very particular repertoire of music I'm familiar with from 20 solid years of dusties Chicago radio that I'm happy to know about, a collection of music with particular local meaning. Oh...this sounds wonky. It's not a wonky experience. But I like that I can recognize a classic steppin cut, even if I suck at stepping.

I just love Herb. I love his professionalism, his even-flow-ing qualities, his constant cowboy hat, his openness to new things. He has a unique radio personality: not brash, not huge, not smug. It's...smooth. Real. Oh ick, that word is kinda meaningless. He's a bit hard to explain.

I hope there's nothing elegiac about this...I just felt like paying my dues today, a little bit. It occured to me the other day that he's the person to whom I directly owe the joy of the weird aching quality I get in my heart and my body when I hear "Yearning for Your Love" and a million other songs I love. I even kinda like knowing about the songs I hate. I hope he's out there spinning for a very long time. And forgives me for not pullin together the story, which he probably did 'cause he's such a pro, even if I'm not always. Just a fan-girl.
Marvin Gaye trib. on V103 today (he died on April 1).

Hermione-cat: very polydactl recently. Presenting all her over-abundance of toeses in most forthright manner. Way lots of toeses.
Most hilarious inadvertent neologism in amongst acres of home-sick TV watching: breast-oggs for "breast augmentations" on some dumb plastic surgery show. Or as my friend D said when we were chatting (using it in a sample sentence): "Baby, I love you, but you need an ogg." Hah ! Oggs.