Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Have you ever been poitrined?

Have you read Little Me (1961), darlings? If you haven't, you have to, and there isn't really anything more to say about that.

It's the biggest joke ever, all the way through--and as such rewards repeated readings extremely well, as there is so much to absorb and catch from slightly different points of view and snortle at and see differently in the text and sometimes very naughty photos that accompany The Intimate Memoirs of That Great Star of Stage, Screen & Television, Belle Poitrine, as told to Patrick Dennis.

Belle Poitrine, née Belle Schlumpfert, of Venezuela, Illinois, is forever mercenary, sluttish, committedly deluded, and vain, whether bleeding dry a series of men ("As Fred had only five thousand dollars, I saw no need to squander it in that squalid hotel"); dumping her two-year-old daughter in boarding school ("I stood silhouetted in the doorway as Baby-dear toddled after Mademoiselle toward the car…'Who's the big blonde?' Baby-dear asked."); or -- my favorite -- offing or otherwise doing nothing to prevent the passing of a series of spouses, such as husband number whatever, studio owner Morris Buchsbaum, who expires after seeing Belle's bank-breaking version of Cleopatra, Nights on the Nile:
"Better I should plotz than see another picture with a gurnisht like you!" A convulsive shudder passed through his entire body. "Ausgeschpielt," he breathed. He sank back onto the pillows, lapsing almost completely into the vivid tongue of his faraway European childhood. But even at this moment my Morris could praise me!
Later Belle is helped down the aisle by her next husband, Letch Feeley (their estate is Belletch), at "dear Morris' high requiem mass."

If nothing else, page through Little Me to see the genuinely amazing poitrine of Jeri Archer (the model who plays Belle in the photos by Cris Alexander), Dennis' virtuoso abuse of scare quotes ("Momma had engaged the services of several very attractive young ladies and held a perpetual 'open house' for America's jolly 'Jack Tars'" [Belle's mother's latest whorehouse, in San Diego]), or the weaving in of imagined interactions with real-life show-biz celebrities ("I approached Ivor Novello to compose an operetta suited to my vocal range. 'CAN PROSTITUTE ART ONLY SO FAR' was his cabled reply.") It is the best. As Charles Busch says in the intro the 2002 re-issue:
This faux memoir of a deluded but determinedly optimistic Grade-Z movie star is a forerunner of the 'mockumentary' that is more and more becoming a staple of American film comedy. This Is Spinal Tap and the films of Christopher Guest…owe much of their deadpan and meticulously accurate tone to this seminal work.

Belle's version of The Scarlet Letter, set at Allstate U.
"Just try to change one comma in some old book about a girl
having a baby in Massachusetts and they're all up in arms!!"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Recession sludge!

I'm lucky: I really love brown rice. Am I lucky? Is that unusual? All I know is I don't get sick of it. Which is good in a recession. This recipe isn't interesting, but I like it. It sustains me, sitting in the deep, heavy Calaphon pan in the fridge, as I scoop out bowls' full during the week. It reheats incredibly well, and can be added to, and sauced, and made more cheesy as the pantry and wallet dictate.


• 1st stage: You need flavoring and fat now--and protein, if you can afford it. So, for instance: very browned meat with aromatics if you're in the mood to chop them (I'm often not), or just spices: heat up some olive oil or butter and crush some dried herbs into it and let them sizzle. This is the stage where I really like to get the extra protein in if I can.  If you have a little minced ham or ground meat, add that. I tend to buy decent-quality protein only on sale and put it in my freezer if I can't use it right away.

In the image below I used four Italian sausages (crumbled out of their casings), browned very crisp and excess fat drained, to which I then added oregano, dry mustard, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, some tomato paste, paprika... I think I threw in some Cotes du Rhone from the fridge door and let it boil off a bit. Basically you want to make a good flavor base of some kind, in enough fat to toast your rice. High temps and a lot of stirring are good here. Make sure there's enough salt and pepper.

• 2nd stage: Throw the rice in and toast it. Plain brown rice is good, but I also like grain combos, if you can get them working: Lundberg rice blends are good, or rice with barley, or rice with quinoa (added later in the cooking process). Stir, stir, stir.

• 3rd stage: Add liquid. Here is the place for stock or broth if you have it, or can afford it. Water's fine, too.

• When it's done: Fluffing the rice and letting it sit is essential once it seems like the rice is really done.

I like to eat it straight with a little extra salt. Or reheated with cheese, if I have some, or a spoon of yoghurt on top. Sometimes instead of putting in the protein in the beginning, I will make a basic veloute sauce and add the protein to that: organic chicken breast, for instance - much easier to deal with in volume - that I roast and make stock from to use for the sauce and and to cook the rice. Make sure the sauce also has lots of flavor: Worcestershire, dry mustard, pepper, thyme, etc. You can make it a cheese sauce with the roux base. Mix it with the cooked rice.

The point is: it is yummy, and because it's whole grain you feel very satisfied, and there aren't a million pans, and it keeps extremely well in the fridge and there are a lot of variations and you know - yum.

Google Voice translates a butt-dial

Very few of these words were actually said: what was actually being "translated" was the sound of walking and then a bit of radio patter. And certainly "Beth" and "Betty" were never said—but Google Voice knows my first name, I guess.
Hey Beth, bye bye bye okay bye, hey. I just bye. Okay bye. Bye, okay hey, bye. Okay bye. And okay bye okay bye bye and bye applicant bye hold on hullabaloo you didn't want to the pretty don't call and hundreds of move. My the guy. And as I would be possible. But if I could call. Okay bye. So, holler, called the are you call. I think it's in it. And what's up. It would be better. Late. Because, below them. Hey, You, hey hello. Please, hey. You is leaving, hopefully The hey and Okay bye. Okay bye. It's okay This. My cancel it, ohh ohh well, call one on east of fun. No, no, and stuff. Yo Yo, hey, it's just the computer okay. We were talking about me would be. We were talking about club okay with you, hey. Hello. Uh huh, okay. Hey, okay. Bush did okay bye week okay. Hey Betty, okay 15 degree. We're gonna be gone.