Monday, June 29, 2009

New Rules

New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer
by Bill Maher

A collection of polite musings of the "I don't get that your air is poison and your job is gone and your son is scattered all over a desert you can't find on a map, but what really matters is boys kissing" variety. Religulous is funnier and time better spent.

3 out of 5

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sexy time ballet

I am still trying to wrap my brain around the ballet I saw today. The Royal Ballet is in town from London performing Manon at the Kennedy Center. If Le Corsaire should be subtitled "Pirate Ballet", then Manon's subtitle would most probably be "Sex Ballet".

The story begins outside of Paris, where Lescaut, a dashing young man, is waiting for the arrival of his sister at a popular "courtyard of an inn", perhaps the equivalent of a rooftop at an Arlington bar? In the crowd are Des Grieux (not rich) and Monsieur G.M. (very rich). Manon arrives and she and Des Grieux instantly fall in love with each other and escape to Paris. Monsieur G.M. also takes an interest in Manon. He's a little slow on the draw, but it's OK because he has tons of money so obviously Lescaut promises to find his sister and convince her to accept the rich guy.

They catch up to the lovers frolicking in Paris. Des Grieux steps out of the house to mail a letter and in swoop Lescaut and G.M., who gifts Manon with a sparkly necklace and fancy robe. She is all "Well these are kind of nice. I like riches. OK, I'll go with you. Want to see my crotch?" And G.M. is like "Yes." And Lescaut, the pimp brother, is all "Let me help you stretch? spread your leg out further."

Eventually Manon comes back to Des Grieux. So G.M. has the police arrest her for being a prostitute and banish her to a Louisiana jail. As an extra punishment, he randomly shoots Lescaut.

Des Grieux follows Manon to America and kills the Gaoler but only after the Gaoler rapes Manon in the mouth.

Let's take a step back. The Washington Post review mentions a blow job scene, which I was looking out for but figured I had missed as it was perhaps interpretive. Right. No stretch of the imagination was required for the blow job scene. Very shocking in terms of ballet. Not so shocking for a ballet already filled with prostitutes and drunks.

The dancing did not seem as strong as the Russians', who wowed me last week with their technical mastery of the most difficult turn and leap combinations. But perhaps it was the choreography that was less classical and technical and more modern and loose. It makes sense that you would drop your lady companion on the floor or fall in a heap landing from a jump if your character is supposed to be shitfaced. And it makes sense that you wouldn't be spinning circles if you've been banished to a jail in the swamps and you are forced to wear raggedy clothing and you perhaps have syphilis.

Oh yeah, spoiler alert! Manon dies in the swamp.

Saturday morning photo shoot wth my produce POD

Not pictured: Breakfast Scone

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In which you find out that I am a stalker

A few weeks ago, at a brewery/beer event in Baltimore, I met Chef Teddy Folkman and his bacon-y mussels and frites recipes. Teddy is the executive chef at Granville Moore's in DC and a finalist on Food Network's "The Next Food Network Star" show. He was cooking in a tent over a hot plate, but dammit that food was good and he was a bit of a cutie. I went back for seconds.

The following week I DVR'd the Food Network Star show and have been watching it regularly. Watching him cry on the show and kind of be an ass.

To me what's most maddening about the show is that you can't smell or taste the food and so have no idea who is actually doing well in the competition. Shockingly, it's not the same as watching a singing or dancing competition where you can judge for yourself the talent, or lack thereof, of the contestants. I am forced to take Bobby Flay's word for it, and having been to Bobby Flay's restaurant in Atlantic City, I don't know if we should all be trusting a man whose key lime dessert was neon goo. (But the steak was good!)

But back to Teddy. In a few weeks I will be attending his cooking demonstration at Sur La Table, where he will prepare a three-course meal and I will get to eat it.

I mean, there will be other people there, but I will be the one slipping him my phone number on a napkin.

And whether or not he calls, after visiting Granville Moore's, I will be sure to follow him to his house and sit outside his building (gotta tint the windows on the Accord first) with binoculars and a scrapbook of our two-month relationship.

Wearing this on a t-shirt:

6% complete

I've read past page 63 of my Summer Reading Project #2, which means that I am just a little ahead of schedule. So far I don't know what to make of anything (well, I've cheated a little bit and peaked at a couple of things on Wikipedia and the David Foster Wallace Wiki: Infinite Jest, but not enough to actually understand what is going on).

  • For one thing, there's endnotes. And there's footnotes about the endnotes. And then there's an eight-and-a-half page endnote detailing the filmography of one of the (fictional) characters. That shit is wack, I say, but an "integral part of the text", the Internet says.
  • Chapters are called "Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar" and "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment". My understanding is that the chronology will be revealed sometime later, and the goal at this point in the reading is to pay as close attention as possible and to absorb as many details as possible. I.e. I expect a reread of the entire thing.
  • There's an emerging central character named Hal who attends a tennis academy.
  • There's a chapter about a drug addict burgling houses.
  • There's a chapter written in fake Ebonics (?)
  • Apparently you are supposed to know Hamlet to get the full effect of this novel.
  • And what in the hell are InterLace cartridges? The precursor to DVDs??
I am curious to see what form of conversation or analysis will emerge on the Infinite Summer blog as the readers and moderators chip away at the reading. Maybe I will occasionally post my my thoughts and feelings here. Buuut I just might spend that time watching this over and over again instead.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pirate ballet/ballet Pirate

I finally broke my months-long gym fast this morning and went to work out to get in better shape for ballet class. I am considering taking some ballet classes this summer to get some more fitness back in my life, but before I can get fit AT ballet class, I have to first get fit FOR ballet class. You see, ballet class is really the feats of strength in disguise.

Going to see the real thing is always both a motivating tool AND depression inducer. Today I saw the matinee performance of "Le Corsaire" at the Kennedy Center, as performed by the Bolshoi Ballet from Moscow. I had never seen "Le Corsaire" before, and, terrible terrible shame on me, did not really know the plot line. Well apparently, it's about pirates. And female slaves and harem girls and ship wrecks. It was a three-hour show of visually stunning sets and costumes and dancing by graceful android robots. Seriously, was there someone backstage holding a remote control? I was incredulous at the dancers' control of some of the leap and turn sequences. Those crazy Russians.

Here is a review of the production from The Washington Post.

And here is a picture I am borrowing from that review:

Next week, I am showing up at ballet class with an eye patch.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Careful not to fall down the Cliffs of Moher POD

or look like a moron

Deep thought of the day (DTOP?)

I am adding the broiler to my repertoire. Interpret that as you will.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Life in France

My Life in France
by Julia Child

So after reading this book, I am very much interested in French cooking, even though it sounds kind of nasty at times and terribly difficult most other times. This book is Julia Child's memoir of moving to France with her husband, discovering a love for French food and cooking, taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, writing her famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and filming The French Chef. Basically I am just a sucker for books that describe food and European countries with gusto and enthusiasm. And I definitely admire people who throw themselves wholeheartedly into something they absolutely love. This book is inspiring on many levels -- try new recipes, work on language skills, travel, take more photographs, be committed to a labor of love project, enjoy yourself when you do these things. Julia Child is officially my new life coach. WWJCD? What Would Julia Child Do?

4 out of 5

Lush Life

Lush Life
by Richard Price

This one is a New York City police drama, where a drunk white guy gets shot and the detectives scramble to find the suspect. It's definitely more engaging than that simple story line -- Price gives the reader detailed portraits of the shooter, the detective, the grieving father, the bystander, the neighborhood. It almost reads like a mystery novel, even though early on you know who the perpetrator is. Maybe it's like watching an episode of The Wire? I don't know, I've never seen that show. It's a good summer read.

4 out of 5

Animal Planet, Hours 30-36

I am not ashamed to admit that I took a 4 hour nap. Then we all moped around until our parents got back.

Overall I think the house-dog-cat-sitting was a resounding success. The dog did not eat the cat. The cat did not scratch the dog's eyes out. No one went hungry. And no one pooped on the floor.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Animal Planet, Hours 12-29

Field Notes: I am happy to report that everyone made it through the night. Wilson woke me up at 6 in the morning, attacking my feet under the covers. I got up and gave him some Fancy Feast and let Nicholson out of his bedroom (crate) into the yard for a minute. Alison and Kristin came to visit for bagel breakfast, and Nick got really excited and jumpy for about half an hour because we had GUESTS! and then went back to being depressed because why are his parents still gone? The girls taught me some dog whisperer training techniques, like saying CH CH to keep him from jumping, but Nick is Russian-speaking and an obedience school drop-out (miscreant) so he jumps anyways and only sits whenever he damn well pleases. Nick and I then attempted to go on a walk, short-lived, as he didn't seem to want to go anywhere. I believe now we are starting family nap time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Animal Planet, Hours 0-11

My parents are out of town this weekend for my sister-in-law's graduation. I was given the task of keeping the dog and cat alive for 36 hours. This band of brothers was born after I left the nest. We're acquainted, but are not very close. Considering that I have never before been responsible for any living creatures, I am a little nervous about tonight.

My mom left me a 4-page letter detailing their daily habits, food and bathroom routines, and temperaments. In it she writes: "We haven't even left yet and I miss them already." It almost made me cry. She also left me a fridge full of food. Armed with my two Netflix movies and two books, I don't plan on leaving until that fridge has been picked clean.

A little hesitant about walking the dog, I've so far only let him out in the back yard. Apparently there was a diarrhea incident this morning, and it was suggested that I not attempt my first solo dog walk on this particular occasion. Especially since he is about my size (Australian shepherd) and is a bit wild. I also let the cat out of the basement, and at first he wouldn't come out. Pissed off probably.

I myself am incredibly pissed off that I remembered to bring my camera but did not remember to put a memory card in it. So unfortunately for you, there will be no photos of the dog sniffing the cat's butt (don't quite understand that) or artsy close-ups of diarrhea.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I heard the aloe call my name

Have you ever had debilitating sunburn? The kind of sunburn that prevents you from going to work in the morning because you can barely move your legs? No, of course not. You're not a snow white who thinks that she only needs sunblock on her face, and as for the rest of her body, she thinks she'll FEEL it start to burn and THEN will bother to put the lotion on. Inevitably, she'll never feel it start to burn. And she never learns her lesson.

I spent today reading, contemplating the risks of cancer, if not from sun mishaps then certainly from the Chernobyl cloud that I was under in the summer of 1986, and fighting the system to get the cube I want at work through a flurry of furious emails. I won't stand up for a lot of things at work, but I will stand up for my goddamn cubicle!

Excuse me, it's aloe time.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

More adventures in cooking / Under the Tuscan Sun

Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy
by Frances Mayes

Mmmm...Tuscany sounds delicious. I finished this book a while ago but wanted to try one of the recipes before I wrote about it. That's right, this book has recipes. And is nothing like the movie. Where the movie is romantic, and Frances is newly single and finds herself in Italy on a gay tour bus, paid for by her gay friends Christina from Grey's Anatomy and Addison from Private Practice in an effort to pick up Frances's spirits, and Frances buys a Tuscan villa on her own and meets hot Italian men, in the original memoir, she and her manfriend Ed purchase and renovate the villa together and the book is more about the renovation and their adaptation to the new culture than about their romance. I actually had to put the book down for a while because reading about all the things that were wrong with the house got tedious. Then I watched the movie and got a second wind to finish the book. So overall I gave the book a

3 out of 5.

So here is the recipe, which I attempted last night. It involves polenta so of course I was all about it.

Polenta with Sausage and Fontina
Prepare classic polenta (page 131).

Rich Polenta Parmigiana per page 131
Soak 2 cups of polenta in 3 cups of cold water for 10 minutes. In a stock pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil and stir in the polenta. Let it come to a boil again, then turn down the heat immediately and stir for 15 minutes on a gentle flame that is strong enough to keep slow, big bubbles rising. Add salt and pepper, 8 tablespoons of butter, and 1 cup of grated parmigiano. Add more water if polenta is too thick. Stir well.

Polenta with Sausage and Fontina cont.
Pour half of the polenta into an oiled baking dish. Thinly slice or grate 1-1/2 cups of Fontina and spread over the layer of polenta. Season with salt and pepper. Pour on the rest of the polenta. Slice 6 sauteed Italian sausages over the top and pour on the pan juices. Bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees. Serves 6.

Notes: I used Goya brand corn meal to make the polenta, because I couldn't find the "polenta" grain at the store, which I've seen and used previously and which took 10-15 minutes to cook. The instructions for making polenta on this particular package had be standing at the stove over a pot of boiling corn meal, stirring constantly for an entire half of an hour. I got sweaty. And I am still not very clear on whether or not Mexican corn meal is the exact same thing as "polenta". I sliced the fontina instead of grating, which made for a very cheesy dish. Definitely enjoyable. For sausage I got pre-cooked chicken sausage with Italian flavoring that I sauteed in olive oil. Also really good. So dinner was pretty much delightful, how could it not be if the main ingredient is polenta, I just never really know if I have the consistency of the cooked grain right, and the Mexican corn meal situation definitely made it more confusing.