Monday, December 15, 2008

Some stuff

The Alexander Calder jewelry at the Met is pretty nifty.

Also good: McCartney II

This recipe

The 1954 Christmas mobile we have hanging

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I took this picture of a really fuzzy quince a few weeks ago. I remember when I first got really depressed when I was 21 I became fixated on finding a quince and I couldn't find one anywhere - I'd read a description of one in some book that made an impression on me. Since I started taking meds I've been okay but this past few days I've had as bad a spell as I can remember - awfully scary as I can't attribute it to troubles with love or work or life and it's terrible to really feel at the mercy of your faulty genes. Thank goodness, this strain - which also includes migraines and (not in my case)math aptitude - has skipped Charlie. My grandfather, his mom, her father and grandfather all suffered from melancholia badly - which is to say, they all committed suicide. Probably others too but I don't know that far back. Most of them spent a lot of time in "the bin." Thank goodness for drugs!

Anyway! I'm feeling better. Sunday Slim had to get me out of the house, take me to look at the puppies in the window on 6th Avenue, feed me a croissant at Patisserie Claude (Claude has retired; various regulars were vying for supremacy with the sous-chef who's take it over) and sit me down at a showing of Amarcord. He is too good to me; I made a batch of Millionaire's Shortbread for him when I felt better.

I just got this note from my mom:
"I took a quick glance at one of your Jezebel columns yesterday (bad gifts) -- didn't Charlie give you the first two (picture and dinner invitation)? I recognize the Nips, too, but can't remember who gave them. Alas, I have a VERY strong premonition Santa may be bringing sox ....

Can I help with your phone repair? Let me know. Papa and I are having lunch with Chaim today and then I'm getting my hair cut (Daniela) and THEN it's off to the Writer's Guild Xmas party, where the invitation assures us much networking will ensue. Papa and I may be the only grayheads there, but you never know. These functions (I'm thinking the strike lines, here) tend to attract real losers and blowhards living on their past glories. We went to an auction in Larchmont last night and I got the oil painting I went for (pretty cheap, of course). I think you'll really like it, too. It needs a repair job, but that will have to wait for the Bad Times to recede. They were giving away furniture at the auction -- some of it beautiful.

All for now.


She mustn't know I've been "sick" again.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I just have to share my excitement about something tiny. This morning I found I was OUT OF COFFEE. I'm not a caffeine junkie as such, but we start early, so it's a definite necessity. We DID have some whole beans which a friend of Slim's (who has a free-trade coffee initiative starting up in Ethiopia, trying to get their coffee market up and running) brought us almost a year ago. I've never remembered to get a cheap grinder, so I tried a mortar and pestle but it wasn't working very well. Then I remembered that, like you do, I have a 19th century German coffee grinder on top of the fridge. (I took this when my folks were cleaning out their attic. It's an ancient porcelain wall-mounted contraption, and since it felt a bit Country Store to just have it up decoratively, I've never hung it.) Well, it worked just fine! A workout, sure, but I see no reason not to hang this and put it into use. May fall apart - and you can't actually wash the grinding chamber, which means the risk of rancid grinds is high, but this was a good cup of joe!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Speaking of food: as you know I'd been cooking somewhat obsessively, and such decided to take a break. But! It seems when I don't cook, there's nothing to eat. I've been reduced on three separate occasions to lunching on what Buckingham's nephew calls "peanut butter spoon."

So tonight I thought I'd make a quiche. The idea was to try to just cook one thing, just what I needed: moderation, you see. Well, I failed: I couldn't resist whipping up a batch of bran muffins while I was at it. Maybe that I could have justified, but probably not the batch of shortbread, half of which I made into jam thumbprint cookies.

On the Town

We had the BEST dinner last night: Marie had us over and made a recipe of her great-grandmother's for the first time: a chicken flambeed in cognac! She served it over a piece of toast rubbed with a bit of liver pate; it was delicious. We also had roasted potatoes and haricots verts, and a perfect tarte tatin.

Luckily, given the work-related stuff, this has been a week full of friends; Monday Sylvia and I went to see a Carole Lombard triple-feature (although we only made it through two.) The first (cockamamie but enjoyable) was about a family of dizzy rich folks in which the son falls for a showgirl (Carole Lombard) and the daughter for a mechanic. Hilarity, mistaken identities, stiff British stock characters and various ruses later, all is resolved to everyone's satisfaction. The second was merely cockamamie: a soap king pays his secretary (Carole Lombard) to get his son to fall in love with her so he'll get some ambition. Slapstick, con artists, farce and absurdity ensues. As regards the Film Forum, I've never thought the card by concessions saying "'I love this banana bread!'-Jacques Derrida" was a very convincing testimonial. Many things he may have known, but banana bread? "Well, maybe he'd never had it before," reasoned kind Sylvia. (In fairness, it's pretty decent - maybe a 5.5/6? Did I tell you'd I'd maybe found my own keeper recipe?It's made with vegetable oil! Shocking!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I was told that the media blog had a little item on Jez cutting some eds' hours, with pictures! I finally figured out that mine must have come off of my Chowhound profile; it features Mr. Met and a random guy. As to the cuts, well, I'm just down a day (touch wood) which I can live with, but it's a pretty rough thing for the editor to have to go through, and I know full well this sort of creative restructuring is a kind alternative to another lay-off (and the one we have suffered is grievous indeed.) It's shocking when one knows first-hand how very talented and hard-working a lot of these folks are.

Now I have NO excuse for not finishing my children's novel!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Last night went to a party at the home of Al who used to date Ruth who dated GK4 after me, where I met Megan who went to college with Charlie and who went to camp with my across-the-street neighbor Beth and who is childhood friends with Vera, with whom I also used to play as a child, and who slept with GK4, and who lives with Marie,who is dating Moishe, and whose ex-husband grew up with Tony who went to college with Slim, who went to high school with Caitlin, who dates Justin who went to high school with me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

OK, Another of My reviews

"I had always assumed that, like swimming with dolphins and visiting Sesame Place, dining at Stand fell into the category of things I could happily die without ever doing. And yet, the other evening some friends and I emerged from a nearby theatre on the cusp of 11.30 craving burgers, and Stand (open daily to midnight) beckoned.

The cavernous space is high-concept and vaguely post-industrial. We were confronted by a large circular desk thing containing a wholly superfluous maitre d', who seated us at an enormous wooden table. Various beautifully groomed, black-clad men glided around. This was all very well, but the only other patrons (on a Friday night, btw) were a table of strikingly un-fabulous NYU students, and some Japanese tourists in a corner - although it should be said that one of these was sporting a faux-hawk.

We gave a pass to the burger soup and burger salad and all ordered regular burgers and a large fries. Root beers were presented with some ceremony from the slick-looking bar at the room's center, from whence, one assumes, the various alcoholic milkshakes emerge. Having all tacitly decided to get out of here as soon as possible, no one in my party availed himself of these.

Burgers were tasty enough (although I'm on record in my dislike of brioche buns), topped with red onion, pickle, shredded lettuce, mustard and sided with homemade ketchup (helpfully supplemented by some Heinz's on the table.) Fries were hot and fresh. The homemade ketchup was controversial, tart and somewhat chunky. While no substitute for the real thing, I took a shine to this peculiar condiment and ate everyone's portion with a spoon. (But then, I eat canned tomatoes as snacks.)

Food was fine, prices were standard upmarket at about $10 a pop. But the whole experience made us giggle. It managed to feel really dated and silly, like some kind of former hotspot club from 1998. I'm sure if I lived in the area I'd succomb to takeout on a rainy night, but I certainly don't feel any need to reprise the experience."

Another Review

"Wtf is the deal with Billyburg/Gpt and their one-night rentals? And if they're gonna do that, would it kill any of these video places to get a drop slot? It's such a scam. I'm tempted to grab a hatchet and spend a night hacking slits in all their doors.

Beyond that, this is an okay little video shop. The selection's not huge, but the niche stuff - ie, Hammer Horror, and (duh) noir - is solidly repped.

I liked the owner, Will, but wasn't really satisfied with my experience.

I explained to him what I was looking for:

A creepy psychological thriller/horror movie along the lines of Don't Look Now, The Innocents, the original Wicker Man, Haunting of Hill House or The Others. (I added that, despite its mediocrity, there were things I liked about the Skeleton Key.)

In short, I like a non-campy movie dealing with ghosts and the occult. Catholic clergy is a plus. Serial killers, vampires, zombies, killer animals and monsters of other kinds need not apply.

We discussed this earnestly for some time and he determined that I must rent The Black Cat, based on a Poe story. As he seemed to understand exactly what I was looking for, I was very excited and set aside a whole evening for viewing.

Well, The Black Cat was idiotic. Campy, silly and full of fake blood. I hope I'm not spoiling anything for anyone when I tell you it's about an evil cat (black) who mauls people. I had no problem getting it back within the allotted day's time frame.

If there's something specific I want, I guess I'd try Film Noir again, but I do rely on the expertise of the film geeks at this sort of small shop - the thing, aft all, that separates it from Netflix - and The Black Cat left a very bad taste in my mouth!"
There was an odd period this past Spring when I was up for a job at an online reveiw site, and as a result was cranking out reviews at an almost preternatural pace. I just looked some of them over - and they were strange. I can really see why I wasn't hired. Here's one:

It has been suggested by the less charitable of my associates that if something is mediocre and more than a hundred years old, I automatically love it.

This is true.

It is certainly true of Glaser's, which celebrated its 106th birthday yesterday. It's the kind of no-fireworks bakery that you used to be able to find on every block: basic cookies and cake; brownies; not-terribly-strong coffee, and that New York classic, the Cheese Danish.

No, nothing is spectacular, although plenty of things - the cinnamon roll, the very basic hot cross bun, the sugar donut - are just fine.

Nevertheless, Glaser's is one of my favorite places in the city and, with all due respect to my grandparents and Museum Mile, my favorite reason to come to the Upper East Side. It's a total time capsule: utterly old-fashioned and friendly, with rock-bottom prices. (A coffee and donut will run you about $1!) The somewhat mediocre pastries are somehow comforting: you know exactly what you are getting and nothing ever shocks or surprises. Things taste exactly as they did when I used to come in for a leaf cookie when I was three. And, probably, just the way they did in 1902.

Cakes etc. are shockingly cheap. I don't know who gets wedding cake here (although I totally will) but I'm sure the dusty specimen in the display case would not be hard on the wallet. When I was in yesterday, a young mother was ordering cupcakes for her 3-year-old's birthday party.

"I'm going to write "vibrant colors" very clearly on this order form," said the lovely woman taking down her order, "otherwise the baker might write "vibrant' on the cupcake. Recently, he wrote, "leave this space blank" on a chocolate cake; he's very literal at 4 a.m."

There is a wonderful parade of Yorkville old-timers who come in and out; the ladies know everyone by name. Last time I was in, a smug old man in a "USS Missouri" cap snickered and sneered at everyone who came in from a corner. He was there for at least two hours (I checked.) I wanted to die and be reincarnated as a mediocre 75 cent chocolate cupcake in that ancient display case, to be eaten by a strange old person of German extraction who may or may not have been involved in The Bund as a youth.

The End."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Jack Russell and "the little dog," both of whom live upstairs, are having puppies. "The little dog" (the dad) is something tiny so they should be cute in combination. Kind of want one.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On The Town

I usually have to be forced to go to parties, and always try to back out at the last minute and then have a moment of panic before going in...BUT this weekend I was persuaded to go to one of those Scene parties where you know and almost know a lot of people. I had fun, not least because Slim enjoys everything so wholeheartedly. What's more, we had a new friend - whom Slim met in a vintage shop - who proved to be one of those social creatures who relishes meeting people and dances with no self-consciousness whatsoever. He was darling and at the end of the day lots of other people are, too. Or was I in a benevolent mood? Certainly feeling philosophically inclined, having just come from a sherry with a friend who impressed upon me the importance of aesthetics - sensibility-wise, that is.

What a contrast was the next evening! We had a few of Slim's friends over for birthday drinks. I must say, it's very rewarding to cook for gluttons: they really relished the two casseroles of mac & cheese, roast tomatoes, salad, pumpkin pie and cake I made. (Later on, Slim and Frank made a concoction of pumpkin piue filling, brandied whipped cream and cake crumbs; they also fried some of the leftover mac and cheese in bacon fat.) The cake was, of course, a wine cake, which is the official birthday cake in my mother's family. It's so good that I'll tell you how to make it:

-Mix 1 box yellow cake mix with a large instant vanilla pudding (or a regular box plus a few T), a cup of oil, 5 eggs, and 3/4 cup of sherry. Bake it in a bundt pan at 375 for about 45 minutes. Then, while still in the pan, poke the cake's bottom all over with a skewer. Make a glaze from about 1 C powdered sugar and enough sherry to thin it and pour this over. Let it sit about 15 minutes. Then turn it out, poke the cake all over, and pour on more glaze. Sounds vile, is the best thing ever.

Sunday we slept late, then had brunch at the new market-driven hipster spot in the area. It was pretty good: a pleasant vibe, Heart etc. on the box, of course a few too many familiar faces. I had the eggs, which came with a choice of 2 sides (I had baked tomatoes and bacon.) My poached eggs, while organic etc., were too hard, and the home fries are the french fry type I don't like. Also, they only have espresso drinks rather than coffee. However, Slim liked his gravlax a lot and the whole experience was pleasant. We took a long walk and it was a nice Sunday...and then.

I had a movie date to see Twilight with two friends, semi-ironically. I headed to Carroll Gardens, stopped by the store with some pumpkin whoopie pies from One Girl, and met my friends. The setup couldn't have been better: we were surrounded by young teens who were almost overcome with excitement. I didn't know much about the movie and have no interest in vampires, but I was quickly riveted: I can't remember being more satisfied by a viewing experience! And oh my gosh the chemistry! Unfortunately, then there was a scene with a lot of bleeding and in what I think may have been a humiliating incident of hyper-empathy for Bella, the teenage heroine, I got very woozy, stumbled out of the theatre and promptly fainted on the floor outside the bathroom. I came to to find a bunch of people yelling at me; someone - I think not an employee - was saying that I'd had a heart attack. I tried to explain that I hadn't and not to call an ambulance, but it's hard to recover at first from the nausea and wooziness and it took a few moments to get me settled against the wall with some flat coke - when all I wanted was to get back into the theatre to see the PROM SCENE! They wouldn't let me. What's worse, someone insisted on pulling my friends out of the movie, which was the last thing I wanted. Ignominious doesn't begin to describe it. But yeah, Twilight is incredibly good.


When I went to find these pictures on the camera, I discovered that Slim has been taking all sorts of nocturnal pictures.
Strange still-lifes:

And self-portraits!

Another Small Pleasure

This is in the hall of our otherwise ugly building. I covet it.

Great Minds

Rape of Europa, the documentary about Nazis stealing art, is on 13 now. I saw it in theatres last year; really good. I called my dad to rec it; of course he is watching!

I also went by Bonecrusher's apt but he's out or not answering. Last week, within the space of 20 minutes, he told Slim of great military feats (his); that his family were Polish aristocrats before the Communists took all their holdings; and that his grandfather saved all sorts of Jews during the war. Each plausible, I suppose, but it's a lot to swallow...anyway, it seemed that given these antecedents he might have a vested interest in the looting of Warsaw...or at least the routing of Nazis!


My neighborhood is not picturesque. But there is beauty everywhere...

Something Great

This is the stove and fridge the next door neighbors threw out last week. Can you imagine?! I would commit crimes for an apartment with such a kitchen...and when you think what they probably replaced it with...

I snuck in to get a picture of the decal on the fridge. It breaks my heart.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just had a silly argument with Slim, in which he claimed that Joni Mitchell was better than Mozart. I disagreed.

In the immortal words of my dearest friend Eloise, "Joni Mitchell is many things - horrible among them - but at the end of the day her edge of bitchy self-regard keeps her from real Amazing Girl status."

"I think fur softens the face, don't you?"

Cold, cold day here! I wore my beautiful new coat to Economy Candy to get the stuff for my fruitcake and although they had 1/2 pound minimum I managed to walk away (mixed fruits, raisins, sultanas, currants, citron and cherries) for under $10! Our pleasures are small...and what I'll do with the extra 6 oz. of citron is anyone's guess.

Someone asked me to pose for "Vogue Korea" - some gal on the street thing, obviously the coat - but of course then I realized afterwards that I had ink all over my nose. I also had ink on my nose the one time I actually spoke to Baby Dayliner (who, yes, was obviously my pick for the blog's hot list today.)

On the subway home (a young woman was thumbing through a 1950s book called Can Our Cities Survive?) I found myself sharing a pole with a couple, both of whom seemed to be out of work writers, one a sportswriter. They were talking about whether starting blogs might be a good idea.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The landlord came by this afternoon to fix the fan and made us do shots of this honey-infused vodka which he claimed was "medicinal," which kind of had an adverse effect on the rest of my work day.

This evening I had to pinch-hit for my mom at an event where my grandpa was getting an award. It was at the Players Club (several good portraits of Edwin Booth) and the hors d'oeuvres were sparse. There were seven count em seven awards presented, each of which required the introduction of the person giving the award, who then in turn gave the award to the recipient, who of course gave a speech. Grabbed a bite afterwards with my dad at a tavern once favored by O. Henry, now favored by douchebags. I explained to my dad the concept of the Murray Hill Set.

I feel a bit sick.

Have You Ever Seen

Style by Jury, the makeover show on NBC? The premise is basically that of that awful TLC show, Ten Years Younger (strangers evaluate the makeover candidate pre-and post-makeover.) SBJ is Canadian, I think. It's very, very depressing - the candidates are somehow much worse off than on any other makeover show I've ever seen, maybe because they have come on the show voluntarily. They're very much in need of making over, true, but generally so beaten down, or nerdy, or unhappy, that you wonder how much help a week can provide.(And the makeovers aren't so great, frankly; the haircuts are always kind of frumpy, even when the women are very young.) For some reason, I can't stop watching it.
So, when I was at Lincoln Center on Sunday before Love for Three Oranges there were, as always in New York, a bunch of music lovers/derelicts (it's very hard to say) begging for extra tickets outside Avery Fischer Hall. One elderly woman was particularly abrasive and demanding and when one gentleman refused to surrender his ticket to her she muttered, "They won't let me in the Met, either. Fucking assholes."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Do you know...

I took a long walk earlier, trying to knock myself out of my doldrums and wondering whether to start my fruitcakes tonight (I like this recipe.) I called my folks but I didn't like to worry them - they are concerned I'm always on the brink of getting very depressed, as I did when I was 23 - and then I came home and thought I'd try to write it out, instead, and when I logged on I saw such kindness here - it was like a bracing tonic.

You know, I have mixed feelings about negative feedback on the internet. On the one hand, I always marvel that people will expend the energy to try to get someone fired (!) over a fashion feature, but at the same time, the sort of work we do is for others' entertainment, and if we are not doing a good job of it, I do feel they are within their rights, provided they're courteous. I know I take things too hard, but I do think that's just some peoples' temperament, and it's a sad truth that not every temperament is calibrated to the new media!

There are several things to feel good about:
-The very handsome vintage stove the neighbors are getting rid of (also heartbreaking)
-The hooded fur jacket I found for Maeve
-The performance of 'Love For Three Oranges' I saw yesterday; also, good lunch at La Bonne Soupe with my mom beforehand; also, good pumpkin macaron from Bouchon Bakery.

I have to tell you: I am quite concerned about Christmas. I'm going to Los Angeles for M's parents' annual party in December and I'm terrified. I don't know what to wear (it's skirts and festive tops, that kind of thing) or what to bring as a hostess gift. I'll bring a small fruitcake (Dr. C likes them) plus some homemade candy (probably candied peel, fudge and buttercrunch) but I wish I could think of something slightly more personal and significant. I mean, I'm hardly going to put together a scrapbook, but in spirit I almost wish that was within my powers. My mother suggested I write them a story, which is quite possibly the worst idea I've ever heard.

As for gifts proper, I've commissioned three Bevin Strand Millinery turbans from Maeve (her real name), for M's mother and two sisters, and who wouldn't be delighted to get that? (They really are the most flattering shape imaginable and crocheted from the softest wools.) My mother directed me towards a website that lists a number of excellent products hand-made by monasteries and abbeys. There's a fruitcake that sounds maybe (oddly) I'll give his dad two fruitcakes and we can compare and contrast. It's made by the sister abbey to the one, I think, where Thomas Merton was (?) and since Dr. C is a convert to Catholicism, this may appeal to him. On the other hand, it may not at all and I'll just seem strange, and now you just know GK4 Former Fiance's going to tell me Merton was somewhere completely different.

I Get So Upset

I get so upset when people write in to the site where I work to complain about my work. Someone just did this - to the whole editorial list - to say I was so bad I ought to be replaced. I know I should not mind, but it has made me cry and I am so shaken up I don't know what to do. I'll try to do better work I guess...I don't know. I wrote her a note explaining that it's not so straightforwad as it seems and that I would welcome her constructive ideas, but...gosh, I am so unhappy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Going Strange

There is no denying it. After less than a month of working almost exclusively from home, my eccentricities are multiplying at an exponential rate. First came the strange sartorial impulses - turbans, pompadours, kimonos - and now I realize I've fallen into the obsessive cooking that characterizes the onsets of my manic periods. In the past week I have made:

A braised pork shoulder (with mashed potatoes and celery root; roast parsnips and carrots)
Eggplant Parmesan
Shepherd's Pie
Apple Crisp
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin Bread
Banana Bread

...and an identical level of productivity for the preceding weeks. Do I eat it? No. My own menus are as circumscribed as ever: 90% yogurt, 5% coffee, 5% salad - pure predilection and habit - but the sense of purpose and achievement I get from cooking is addictive, and the compulsion to cook for loved ones to show my dedication is equally unhealthy.

I am going to alert Slim to this and ask him to assume cooking a few nights a week (lentils here I come!) and stick to the plan of only what we both need. There is nothing wrong with cooking for pleasure and nourishment, but compulsion is never healthy.

This week I'm set to go out almost every night with different friends which is, I suspect, a very good thing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Full moon tonight!

Have seen no evidence of moon madness in Greenpoint, although I did see a bum smoking a cigarillo in the subway.

Another Day

From IM:

GK4: Would you be amenable to allowing me to share a bed with you and Matt, in a non-sexual way?
me: Nope.
GK4: Really?

Bad Move

Having watched Rosemary's Baby at the Film Forum on Sunday, was moved to peg all my trousers last night. Yes, by hand. And in case you're wondering: sucks to Mia, there's this scene where Ruth Gordon shows up in slacks and a button-down and beads and a scarf and, well, it's pure black magic. Which has nothing to say to the matter in November.

Guess What I'm Trying To Do?

Pen a "Modern Love." It is very hard and embarrassing!

Maybe I've been reading too many self-centered NYT Magazine essays lately, because today I was a total downer. First I wrote this preachy thing about Joan Didion and New York Intellectuals. Then I upped the fun with this self-serious account of my grandfather's suicide. Most out of character - I hope!

I have a terrible feeling this self-seriousness was prompted by a few things that happened yesterday. You see, I went to this panel discussion at the NYPL and it was absolutely awful and as I told Slim, it was :my college as some free jazz fusion thing:Wesleyan. By which I mean, everyone I went to school with was there basking in self-congratulation and chuckling at cheap jokes about Palin. Joan Didion was great. She validates all of us who are unable experience pure euphoria untempered by caution, but still manage to feel a real joy if that makes sense - yes, even if she is fifty years my senior! I like to think she was always that way. But for the most part it was pretty icky ("I think we all know what Leon Wieseltier meant when he said he had to give away his tickets to a performance of some late Shostakovich quartets, 'because for once I was not interested in the despair.'")Anyway, I saw a guy I know there who said, 'You're obviously not covering this for work' and generally managed to make his scorn known (not deliberately, I know.) Then I ran into a girl fresh out of school who was highly opinionated about the site and seemed to feel she should just be able to march in and write for it, and that I ought be able to arrange this. Neither of these people was in the wrong, precisely - she was young, and he moves in a different world - but I fear they conspired to trivialize what it is we all work so hard on, and knowing that's unworthy of me may invalidate, but doesn't nullify, the emotion. Of course, the power of new media is that it feels democratic, and everyone truly is entitled to an opinion and a bit of ownership. If we make it look easy - and I don't, but I do think some of my colleagues manage it - it means we're doing something right.

But! Tomorrow means bucking up and a good deal less nonsense, my girl.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dirty Weather

Just finished an okay book: Arthur Phillips' Angelica. Absorbing enough, but like so much modern fiction, hardly pleasurable. And quite frankly, I'm a bit tired of random first-person narrators (in this case a turn-of-the-20th-C actress) speaking in the voice of 21st Century MFAs. (He could have taken a page from Nights At The Circus in that regard.) In general, there was a sort of elliptical telling-not-showing that grated on me. And Americans writing like Victorian English-people almost never get it exactly right, just as American dialogue is always slightly off in a Richard Curtis film. But for all that, a lot to admire.

It is so cold and rainy that I'm rapidly giving up an idea I had for an ambitious walk across the bridge into Manhattan and a few miles once there to this particular custard-filled donut only available on weekends. I need perfume; there is an expensive coat I'd like to visit; there are several interesting buildings I'd like to examine; but really there is no rush.

Friday, November 7, 2008

As Regards Housing...

Slim and I are considering a Real Estate Venture. Not just us; some friends, too. (Apparently there's some way to do it so that you don't all end up in court when things go sour and you have separate mortgages or something.) We'd each have an apartment within the building, if we can find a building that's sufficiently tempting and affordable. Yes, this is exactly what it will look like.

Some of Gaudi's more rustic work reminded me of Arts and Crafts cottages like this one, Stoneywell (Ernest Gibson, 1898) and I wanted to show it to you.

Another Good Movie

Last night caught the last showing of Hiroshi Teshigahara's 1984 Antoni Gaudi documentary at the Film Forum. I loved it. It's nothing but a silent imagescape of Gaudi's architecture, but it's riveting. Slim thinks some of the later buildings look like 60s drip candles, but I loved them: they reminded me of northern California forests, with their redwoods and Spanish moss and lichens. It is amazing to think that 1)19th Century patrons gave Gaudi such autonymy and so many resources and 2)there were so many skilled artisans just hanging around that he was able to put up such a staggering number of finely wraught buildings, each of which looks like a lifetime's work. Inspired me for the first time with a powerful desire to go to Barcelona, whereas before I just felt I should. I also found the Sagrada Temple a compelling argument for Catholicism. Well, for a few moments.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The neighbors have suddenly put a jack o' lantern on the stoop, four days after Halloween. There may be a language barrier issue.

I wonder what they think about election day?

Many people in the neighborhood probably aren't citizens; there was no wait at all at my polling station, in the basement of the public school on Monitor Street.

I want it to end! No matter what happens, I can never take any pleasure in some people's disappointments. Comes of growing up in such a politically fraught house, I guess; in small ways there's rarely ever a full 'victory.' Democracy's not made for such things, but I'm glad that for the next few months at least some people can pretend it is. That's important, and it's contagious, too.


I got sick on Halloween; even the cab driver scolded me for going home at midnight! But I did muster the energy to conjure an apparently completely unrecognizable Liz Taylor and hit the town very softly with the Bull Market, David the Gnome, Swift the Fox and various other revelers. Saw some good music through my sniffles but didn't much fancy back-staging it(never my scene in the best of health.) I don't think there's another situation that makes me quite so uncomfortable, in fact.

In other news: Just finished Ladies and Gentlemen the Bronx is Burning, which I fancy would be pretty dull to anyone who lived through it but an awfully fun survey for those of us inclined to romanticize 70s New York. Now working my way through An Untold Story, Elliott Roosevelt's memoir. It's absolutely fascinating, given what a trustworthy narrator he seems to be, a revelation. He wrote the book as a means redressing the mythologies he saw growing up around his parents' marriage: to hear him tell it, Eleanor, for all her worthiness, was a cold, remote narcissist, despised by her children; Franklin a loving father hungry for love. The portraits of FDR's relationships with Lucy Mercer and Eleanor with her lady friends are especially vivid.

Movie: Black Narcissus

I just saw Black Narcissus last night for the first time, despite my love of both the novel and Michael Powell. Well, I loved it: I can't remember enjoying a movie more. Yes, Sabu, Gene Simmons and May Hallatt all being the same South Asian nationality is somewhat implausible, but it's a testament to the overall power and atmosphere of the film that this didn't bother me. And Kathleen Byron! I wish I could see it again for the first time; I envy anyone who still has that to look forward to.

RIP Yma Sumac!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Beginnings And Ends

This weekend marks my last at the store! The end of an era indeed - almost three years. We celebrated with a farewell dinner across the street and a banana cream pie with a frownie face on it. It's been literally years since I had a free weekend so, allegory of the cave style, it's quite possible I'll be unable to handle the freedom.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On the Town with The Petite Sophisticate

So, despite my usual mid-Victorian state of vaguely indifferent health, I have been valiantly O&A in the past few. For starters, a disastrous dinner with GK4, former fiance, which, despite the application to face, gullet of excellent pizza, predictably degenerated into recriminations (mine), fury (mine), cutting insults (mine), and self-pitying narcissism (his.) Slim was his usual even-keeled self. Also as usual, everything ended up fine. (A friend said to me the other day, 'Ran into GK4 the other day. He looked the way he always looks: pissed at modernity.') That evening was supposed to culminate in a Mad Hatter-themed birthday party but, despite the jaunty leghorn I was sporting, I got too tired and confined my evening's activities to sneaking into an open tenament with Slim and looking at the skyline/rats from the roof.

(Buckingham just brought me a delicious cocoa. I am sipping it. It is my last weekday as a Shopgirl which is very bittersweet. Unlike this sweet, sweet cocoa.)Various Slim updates: he is working as a part-time broker now and carries a dress shirt in his tool kit at all times. When he doesn't get carpentry work he hightails it down to Wall Street. He has also authorized me to fill the gaps in his wardrobe, which has resulted in a slight but perceptible sharpening of his look which, I fancy, doesn't amount to making over. I hope not, anyway. He's been doing lots of glamorous stuff lately with bands and after-parties which is as a rule the sort of thing I avoid and apparently his new ensembles (primarily some gently vintage plaid shirts and a pale blue cardigan, $cheap at this awful hipster trade emporium in Williamsburg) have been eliciting much admiration from all.

Pursuant of this, I was persuaded Sunday evening to go out to a highly exclusive underground spot in the West Village that affects speakeasy airs and has a hip-celeb clientele. As being found wanting by bouncers is absolutely my idea of hell, I initially demurred but I was assured that we'd get in as an acquaintance was the DJ. Anyway. I wore this purple silk disco-ish tunic dress with a thin gold belt that I got when it got damaged at the store. With this I sported high brown boots, my most imposing spectacles and, for just the right touch of dowdy je ne sais quoi, a large wool scarf I got at a stoop sale a few years ago after a keen crocheter passed away. I directed Slim to wear one of the new, slim, shirts with a knit tie. We did get in without too much trouble, as we were with a "party." The place was completely empty. I mean, we were literally the only ones there. Granted, it was only 11.30, but even so. We got a $20 champagne cocktail and settled into a couch. After a while various moddles and guys who looked like they might have been the minor members of bands we hadn't heard of showed up in outfits. Everyone sat around smoking in the 'upstairs' part. They played 60's French pop. We sat around for a while and smoked a cigarette just cause we could. Then we went to The Donut Pub which was altogether more our scene and budget.

Last night some girl friends and I went out to celebrate various minor triumphs over Barolo at a nearby wine bar that looks like a log cabin. On the subway home, Slim (who was in the area) got hijacked by a loose-looking creature in booties with whom he'd apparently attended high school, and later I got a migraine, but we ended the evening on a good note, looking up all the Law & Order episodes in which people we knew had appeared, including this bartender and someone from Slim's junior high.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I was listening to Radio 4, as I do most of the day, and the book program featured Michael Morpurgo, the former Children's Laureate, talking about his novel Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea. I've never read his work, but I am going to, because I was so very impressed with his uncondescending approach to the children in the audience. The excerpt he read, too, seemed to have achieved that really rare kind of clean prose that appeals to both children and adults. As an aspiring children's author, I was really inspired!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cake Break

The tech is all fouled up at real work so we're all left twiddling our thumbs to smoke Capris and eat homemade spice cake with penuche frosting and read Betty Loring: Illustrator. (In fairness,I don't know that any of my colleagues are doing this.)

The spice cake in question is quite enormous and quite delectable and, this being the case, I have already wrapped up sizable chunks to give to Bonecrusher, Bonecrusher's parents, the landlord, and the guy at the deli respectively. I got the recipe from this book Birthday Cakes, by Kathryn Kleinman, which I bought because it's so beautiful. Since, though, I've made a number of recipes with success - the much-admired coconut cake I made for our birthday party, notably. I made this cake 13 x 9" but it would be beautiful layered. I also did a slightly different frosting as I like the texture of a confectioners' frosting better than a straight penuche glaze.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

If I Were A Rich Girl

As re: last night

We did indeed dine out.

We had:
lamb sausage/filet mignon de porc respectively
also wine

a cupcake but later


I am furiously angry. I have been now for about a day and it is not abating! I couldn't say why,, all my attempts to pick fights have been dismal failures. I'm known for bursts of quicksilver temper, but not this sort of sustained fury.

A long walk is obviously on the docket.

Monday, October 6, 2008

What Dreams May Come

Slim texted me that he'd "had pleasant dreams that bode well for our future."

Kewpie Doll Dance Only With Me

As I have now acquired a newish job (which I was hitherto reluctant to jinx by means of premature celebration) there is some talk of a celebratory meal tonight. Again, I don't wish to jinx it. But a nice steak would not go amiss, is all we're saying. Maybe at Azul Bistro. Or Le French Diner.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

On the Town with The Petite Sophisticate

Slim and I went to the Greenpoint Square Dance at the Lutheran Church last night, featuring the Clack Mountain String Band from Kentucky. It was equal parts eccentrics, children, hipsters, oldsters, cider and donuts. Obviously elements of this will be recreated at our Engagement Hoedown.

The caller had to take things kinda slow since nobody knew the calls, and then we just kind of went through single figures repeatedly (not complaining - it was hard) whereas I'm guessing people um, down south, or pre-1950 just know/knew all the calls and the caller can really mix it up. As it is, the older couple in our first set had a lot of trouble with the call, "Lady round the gent and the gent al-so/Lady round the lady and the gent don't go," persistently reversing the "lady" and "gent" positions. Our next set had a non English speaker who sort of screwed up the figure over and over. The kids - all of whom seemed very concerned with keeping the boy-girl partnering intact - were all pretty good. What we lacked in skill, Slim and I made up for (we thought) with zest.

Many people

some of them old wives, believe that a frigid shower strengthens the immunities and, not incidentally, firms the flesh. Indeed, French women "are said" to keep their busts pert by such means. For the past two days I have subjected myself to glacial blasts by the gritted teeth one-Mississippi method, and very unpleasant it is, too. Await reports as the barometer drops.

I arrived at the shop

to find Maeve sporting a towering fur hat. She looks highly eccentric.

She is working on some very promising crocheted jabots which I predict will be a sensation. I have already staked my claim for the "double-v."

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

You Know What's Weird?

Vice Presidential debates. Cause it's basically two people quoting other guys all night.

Know what else is weird? How people keep having 'debate parties' and then being let down when the debates aren't brawls and it's just people talking about economics and carbon emission caps.

End liveblog.

I am not normally one

...for cute overloading. BUT. I was so upset by the death of Rupert the Baby Deer that I had to share this.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Slim has an interview tomorrow, so whatever happens, I wanted to celebrate tonight with a good dinner. I'd been eager anyway to try the 3-hour roasted chicken from Chocolate and Zucchini anyway, so it seemed like a good excuse. I have a little Le Creuset pot that seemed to fit the bill (it calls for a covered earthenware casserole) but when I got to the market, they only had Perdue roasters! Half the time they only have Bell & Evans - frustrating when I wanted to make a cheap dish for a pot-luck! - so I was preditably furious. It kind of killed my enthusiasm for the meal (I'm also going to do an olive oil mashed potato, some sauteed green beans and lemon pots de creme) but I must say it smells pretty good. Now that it's cooled down, the herbs have pulled a bit of a Lazarus, so I was actually able to use a spring of Greenpoint-grown rosemary for once.

I don't read a lot of food blogs, but I like Chocolate and Zucchini. I don't often cook from it - we just have different taste sensibilities; mostly I like things too rich - but I love the warmth and charm of the author's writing and I do get a lot of ideas. And when you consider that English is her second language, well, it's even more impressive. Hers is also one of the few blog success stories I can really get behind (besides my own, of course!) since the kind of natural vitality she brings to her food writing is uncommon - despite the proliferation of food blogs - and it's great to see genuine talent rewarded.

When I think about it, I wouldn't say there's one single recipe source whom I consider infallible - according to my own tastes, I mean. Obviously Cook's ILlustrated is perfect according to their own standards, but when one's definition of perfection varies, you're SOL. Basically I'd follow them into battle on the 123s of savories, but more often than not we're just looking for different things in sweets. I find their brownie too cakey and their date-nut bread too dry and I'll be damned if I'll pre-sautee apples for a pie. I use Bittman for general reference like everyone but use it more as a jumping-off point, as he'd intend. Joy is kind of all over the place, obvs.

Amanda Hesser's and Ruth Reichl's recipes are both fantastic, but they're both a bit remote to be kitchen friends. Laurie Colwin's tone and general attitude are my all-time besties, but her sketchy recipes can be bizarre in the extreme and I must admit that the succotash I made from More Home Cooking was pretty inedible. I like a lot of Beat This especially sweets, but my tastes in savories are actually lighter - after all, Ann hates olive oil. Ina is reliable - I cooked everything from Barefoot Contess'as first book, laregly on the unassailable strength of her takeout shop before she was on TV - but as anyone knows, can be horribly rich and decadent. Her croque monsieur, for example, had a ton of gratuitous cheese in the bechamel and was almost inedible! I like Sarah Leak Chase, but there's a reason she co-wrote Silver Palate Good Times; look out for lashings of liqeurs and cream. Obviously I read Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson like any good cookbook reader, but I don't cook from them.

Lately I'm pretty hipped on Simon Hopkinson. We disagree about the composition of an onion tart, yes, but I've had great luck with his lustily described-salads and vegetable preparations and have discovered that I trust him implicitly.

I don't write about food a lot here, because it's boring, but if I can manage to take a few pics with Slim's camera, well, we'll be in business.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wedding Plans!

Some progress! We're seriously considering having our engagement party at a local, family-run spot known locally as "the metal bar" and possessed of a great, vintage bierhaus-like party room and the free homemade buffet served during halftimes on Mondays during football season. We had some of the buffet yesterday night - ziti and meatballs in gravy - and it was really good. As you know, I like a measure of squalor and decay in every major epoch, so this would suit us well.

Guess what? The Metal Bar reminds me - because they have a poster up for it - the Greenpoint Square Dance is taking place this Saturday at the Lutheran Church! We're obviously going; Slim may even break down and buy a contra dance shirt, even though he feels that style of shirt as a rule "belongs to an earlier time" in his life, now over.

P.S. Good Blog

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Bad Times

My grandpa threw in the towel out of general malaise and depression three years ago; I almost wish he'd lived to see us all teetering on the brink of economic collapse, as the Bad Times was the apocalyptic vision with which in mind he built his compound of sheds, deep freezes, buried gold and guns.

Slim has been talking since our first date about laying in rice and bottled water. GK4, former fiance, is the only one I know who has an actual shotgun.

I don't much care for...

TV on the Radio.

Am once again between books! Just finished Angelica Garnett's Deceived By Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood. Angelica was the daughter of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, although she believed Clive Bell to be her father until she was 17. Anyway, when she was 18 and very beautiful she was seduced by Duncan's ex, Bunny Garnett, old enough to be her father, and married him. The memoir's full of her unresolved anger at her upbringing, especially the permissive yet remote Vanessa, and the the emotional neglect she feels she suffered.She comes across as very self-absorbed, but the Bloomsbury details are of course interesting, distressing and appealing in equal part and Virginia Woolf comes off as suprisingly warm and fun, rather than arch or overly cerebral.
Hm. That movie got very peculiar. It seems The Glue Man had to dump glue in girls' hair to create awareness of the destruction of the Kentish countryside and its history. Oh, and so soldiers wouldn't be tempted by local girls being faithless to their sweethearts. Everyone seems to accept this as a reasonable explanation.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Slim and I are watching Michael Powell's A Canterbury Tale and it's splendid. Well, so far; Matt had to go get the laundry. It's a bit like I Know Where I'm Going in that it involves stranded travelers and bucolic parochials, but has a lot of the same charm. Plus, this Land Girl character wears her hair up in this good scarf style which I just replicated in front of my own mirror. Here is a description:

"A cut between a medieval hawk and a WWII Spitfire right at the start of A Canterbury Tale, immediately signals the essential English qualities of this early film from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, a film once almost lost to obscurity, but rediscovered in the 1970s. In a leap of 600 years the jump cut links the historic mystical quality of a part of England that in olden time would draw pilgrims from all over the country with a new kind of pilgrimage that draws people to there on account of the war.

Three of these new pilgrims displaced by the war find themselves meeting at the train station of Chillingbourne, a sleepy little village in East Kent. Alison Smith (Sheila Sim) has moved out to be a land girl on the estate of the local magistrate Mr Colpeper (Eric Portman), helping the war effort by doing vital work in the country. Bob Johnson (John Sweet) is a US sergeant, on his way to London via Canterbury to meet an army colleague, but he has alighted at the wrong station. Peter Gibbs (Dennis Price) is a British soldier, also a sergeant, down to join-up with the large number of troops amassing there for a secret military manoeuvre. Despite having the company of two soldiers, Alison is however assaulted by a strange character who takes advantage of the blackout to smear glue into her hair, before making an escape in the direction of the town hall. On their brief stay in the village, they are determined to uncover the identity of the notorious Glue Man, who has attacked many other young girls in the area, and also understand the mystery behind his strange behaviour."

NB, I made some cakes from the leftover risotto, but I floured them in advance and as a result the flour was sort of absorbed and a good portion of the crust stuck to the pan, despite generous applications of butter. They were okay; we also had a beet, avocado and arugula salad. Altogether Matt seemed to find it inadequate.

Wild day at the shop, which is of course good.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I've been a recluse of late, but this weekend have roused myself to attend two birthday parties; one for a dear old friend who's sort of Michael Cera-like, and the other for one of those rare creatures who manages to be both very fabulous and very nice at the same time. The former was at a bar in South Slope and involved much conversation; the latter was on a rooftop in Bushwick and involved much dancing. I wore a goofy-lookin' outfit tonight but enjoyed myself tremendously.I dread going out to an almost pathological degree, but am beginning to think it's the subconscious knowledge of the energy I invariably expend once I am out. Residual shyness still makes for an adrenaline rush, I guess.

Now, as it's effectively a school night for me, I'm waiting for a Tylenol Simply Sleep to kick in, with a pound-and-a-half-of-cream-upon-my-face.

What's to tell, beyond domestic disturbances, money worries, dreadful family feuds and a general philosphical confusion about certain aspects of life right now?

Well, I made a good risotto tonight.

And, I never cease to be amazed by the variety of experiences Oreo-eating affords. One pack can be divine; the next can have a peculiarly graham-like flavor.

On Trend

Everyone's doing this "Omnivore's 100" list that this British food blogger put together. Half of it's pretty self-evident if one's a Yank, but why not?

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (Have had alligator - ed)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese (not sure)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more

46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini

81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.

85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse

90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Friday, September 19, 2008

By Popular Demand

Okay, no, but I HAVE started a new blog, gruckimish, along with Maeve (Bevin.) It's designed to illustrate the concept of "gruckimish" which fills a gaping void in the English language and is somewhere between "funny","sinister", "grotesque" and "cute." Well, you'll see.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Elder Chic? Hmm...

On the one hand, Advanced Style, Ari Seth Cohen's "Sartorialist but everybody's old" blog is terrific and I wish I'd done it first. (Just yesterday I followed my favorite 5'8" Polish lady three blocks out of my way to try to assimilate every detail of her typically amazing ensemble - purple print dress w/matching earring, gloves, white bag) but I was a bit concerned that the results would be patronizing or overly conceptual ("Proof from the wizened and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age"?!) - after all, why can't elderly folks just be lumped in with the rest of street fashion? Also, he was pictured with Mimi Weddell, who's essentially the Kate Moss of the over-80 set and hardly reps street fashion, however divine she might be. Luckily it seems like he's being respectful and also giving some background, etc. on each "model." I'm cautiously optimistic but will be monitoring closely.

In general I hate to think of this kind of silly fetishization (also see: Miranda July in You And Me And Everyone We Know) being the only alternative for the elderly; it smacks of Erin Wasson-style obliviousness. I hate the sense that they are interesting insofar as they can influence us, inspire us, impress us on our own shallow terms when the reality of the situation, while more proasic, is more interesting than just the superficials. Older people whose clothing intrigues me are not wearing what they do to be bold or transgressive or even to express themselves. Rather, it's because they come from a time when things were governed by custom and order and there were certain conventions you observed out of respect for yourself and society. Clothing was only one part of this, but not a small one. I'm not saying the demise of this sort of thing is uniformly tragic - of course not, given its attendant ramifications. But it's certainly wherein the fascination lies, at least for me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Things I Want

I go to Kewpie Lunch in Racine Wisconsin. World Peace would, I suppose, be an acceptable substitute.

"Hamburger, pickle on top, makes your heart go flippety-flop."

What to Serve?

I should be working but am consumed with anxiety since my friend Mike is coming over for dinner and I don't know what to make and I hate not knowing what to make. If worse comes to worse I'll do one of my standard menus:

A butterflied chicken "smothering" red potatoes and onions, rosemary, garlic, all roasted high

Arugula Salad

Fruit Crostata (just the one from Barefoot Contessa At Home, maybe with prune plums)

...but that feels dull. Plus, whither starters???

The Couple Who Blogs Together...

Slim has started a blog. A highly idiosyncratic and personal financial blog, which is long overdue, even if his first six name choices were taken by people who posted once in 2002.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Parents Met!

After much long and painful debate, I decided upon a cotton frock in Moroccan blue and met my boyfriend's parents. Well, that's a bit misleading; I'd in fact met his mother briefly early on but obviously things are far more weighted now.

The day (which I'd taken off from the store) dawned hazy and humid. We chartered a Northsider and picked the folks up from some relative's pied a terre in the East 30s, then hightailed it to Barney Greengrass, which struck me, in its Jewishness, brusqueness and iconic UWS Woody Allen-ness generally as a suitably exotic jumping-off point.

Of course I was odd; "he's been loved by many a worse woman" and many, many bits of trivia about my family's comprehensive history of mental illness may have issued from my lips. No matter; it was well. From there (eggs and novie, OJ coffee, toasted bagels - I recc'd, also defined "bialy") we walked the Reservoir, hit the Turner show at the Met, took the obligatory rooftop picture, headed up to Sabarsky for strudel and Wiener Melange, perused the Schieles, went back to the pad so his mom could change shoes, met my parents downtown at the West Village trattoria recc'd by Chowhound in response to my query (the whole day was very by committee), dined amicably, went to the White Horse (next door) to watch the USC game (blowout) and parted ways on mutually satisfied terms. All glibness aside, my feelings about the whole thing, philosophically and otherwise, transcend relief into real happiness.

What else...? Well, there's the possibility of legit employment, never a bad thing in an economy that I'm told is precarious. I have launched into my fall look - Early 80's Harlequin Romance Heroine Pre-Makeover, crossed with Kewpie Librarian - in earnest. Obviously this incorporates the glasses chain. Need to take a really comprehensive look at what I have with my inspiration folder in front of me. Vanity, vanity, all etc.

(Slim's friend Jim, an aesthete, has hit town. Last night they came around so I whipped up a tomato pie and some bacon. I attempted to acquaint him with the self-perpetuating Barbie Dream House that is The Scene, but since I'm not in The Scene I saved him some time be sending along that essay Jessica Roy did on The Scene that got picked up by The Scene.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

GK4 Former Fiance

...just had a birthday. Yes, he was somewhat wicked. I gave him A Time For Great Silence, Patrick Leigh Fermor's travelogue about monasteries. That's us. Creepy, no?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I have scored a quite amazing 50s cashmere cardigan. Normally I avoid all those sorts of borderline-campy of things as I think they can be a bit obvious and costumey - shortcut-vintage. But this one was too good to pass up: it's kind of pale lime and appliqued with a velvet bull on the hem and a velvet bear near the neckline; the bear is in the process of posting a ticker-tape of stocks! I can't wait to post a picture of it!

On My Shelf

I finished The Dud Avocado and, while I found it entertaining and there were several funny, keen obersvations that I dog-eared, I didn't love it. In fact, I loathed the narrator. I know she's supposed to be a callow flibberdigibit, but I found that there was an unconscious entitlement and lack of self-awareness to the author's tone that I found most unappealing. (Sure she's a privileged character, but see: Holden Caulfield.) Then too, there were several devolutions into farce which I found gratuitous and unwelcome.

Now I'm reading The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes and while I'm enjoying it, I'm braced for the appearance of Hitler a as a character (as threatened by the blurb) since I particularly dislike historical figures just popping up in fictional narratives. Sort of the same way I feel about fake governments, really.

Monday, August 25, 2008

So, I'm reading The Dud Avocado and it's a lot of fun but I have profoundly mixed feelings about its author Elaine Dundy for the following reason:

I used to have this old friend (she was old, I mean, I didn't know her for all that long) named Lise and when GK4 and I lived in London (she was an old friend of his family's in both senses) we spent a lot of time at her apartment. Later she and I got really close and I stayed with her a few times. She was utterly marvelous; she had the deepest whiskey tenor you've ever heard and she smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish and you could ask her anything from where to find the best salt beef to where to rent a top hat to the best car service plus how to get discounts therefrom - and she knew!And she was endlessly generous and loved to help people in a very unfussy way. She was also one of those people who's incidentally met everyone in the world. She never brought it up but if, say Peter Ustinov or Samuel Beckett or Simone de Beauvoir or the Labor Whip came up, it turned out she'd in fact known/translated for/worked with/dated all of them. When she died it was a great loss to the world.

Anyway, apparently once in the 60's she and her husband were throwing a party (they were known for their marvelous parties) and Kenneth Tynan and Elaine Dundy (to whom he was married at the time) were there, and Lise spied Elaine Dundy grinding out cigarettes into the rug. Lise asked her if she wouldn't mind not doing that, to which Elaine Dundy replied,
"Fuck off, bitch."
Said Lise, "This is my house, and if there's to be any fucking off, it shall be by you," and kicked them out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Had the following exchange with Maeve:

"So, I made something very excellent/disgusting last night. I made a half batch and here were my quantities:

Unroll one tube Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and separate into rectangles (4.)

Spread with a mixture of 3 T butter, 1/3 c. l.b. sugar, 1 t cinnamon, 1/4 t nutmeg.

Roll, short end first. Chill at least 1/2 hour. Slice each log into 6 rolls. Place tightly (use foil to fill gap) and bake at 375 for 15-20.
(Note: in future I'd probably use half white sugar for grainier texture.)

These are very tiny."


"Interesting. I heard an excellent/disgusting tip on how to make boxed brownies palatable:

sub black coffee for water (no-brainer)
sub mayonnaise for vegetable oil (shocking!)

Am intrigued, will probably try in distant future and report back."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Here is something strange

The other night I got a call from (inebriated) GK4 Former Fiance (I was trying to go to bed at the time) in which he drunkenly trashed various friends of mine, broke into Latin, talked a good bit about "bones turning to dust", made various inappropriate sexual comments and rambled philosophically for some minutes before I hung up on him. He requested that I blog about the call, by the way, but I was too annoyed. Until now.

The next day I received a chipper text about his first day of classes. I called him back in a fury.

"Is that all you have to say?" I demanded. "No apology for that call?"

It soon transpired that he had absolutely no recollection of calling me; I made him check his calling history to verify it. It seems he'd had some Chartreuse, which went to his head.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Slim texted, "The Boy Bait has turned predatory and slightly alcoholic." We have thrown it out.

He also texted that he'd cut his hair "and look like a hillbilly's gerbil." Having seen him, I'd say more kind of creepy and militaristic/Travis Bickle.

Saw Beethhoven's 2nd last night. Also, Mozart concerto for "basset" clarinet, which they happened to have handy - and I'm a sucker for period instruments. The soloist, Kari Kriikku, was excellent, but looked uncannily like a Moomin. It's true, I have been dipping into Moominsummer Madness, which perhaps gives me a warped idea of Finland generally. (Although I thought he looked Snufkin-like before I knew his nationality.) I love the luxury of these free concert tickets (my mother works there and there are always tickets going begging.) It removes the ceremony from the experience and allows one to really just enjoy the music, go when one wants etc.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

fyi: finally have a ring. It's lapis ("Some lump, ah God, of lapis lazuli, Big as a Jew's head cut off at the nape, Blue as a vein o'er the Madonna's breast!" as Browning would have it)and in the image of an ancient Egyptian piece in the Met's collection . I have been silently singing, "she has an Egyptian ring/It sparkles before she speaks" all night.

Here's Yeats for ya, "Lapis Lazuli":

Every discoloration of the stone,
Every accidental crack or dent,
Seems a water-course or an avalanche,
Or lofty slope where it still snows
Though doubtless plum or cherry-branch
Sweetens the little half-way house
Those Chinamen climb towards, and I
Delight to imagine them seated there;
There, on the mountain and the sky,
On all the tragic scene they stare.
One asks for mournful melodies;
Accomplished fingers begin to play.
Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I finished Never Let Me Go, as it was too good to put down, and while it did give me some nightmares (dying elementary school classmates and some secret little sister who existed in a parallel 1940's universe), I think the fainting cannot be laid at its door! In any case, I'll get a physical. Have started The Dud Avocado - await reports.

My chum Buckingham has had a bit of trouble lately with the chap at her local 24-hour-market which, due to the hours she works, she needs to patronize pretty regularly. He's nice, but has become rather overly familiar and generally makes the process of buying canned beans a fraught and stressful one (this is the sort of thing women, especially friendly ones, understand immediately and men, not at all.) I wrote my dapper friend Peter, who lives in the same neighborhood, who says he's game to go in with jer some night - which is sadly but truly usually the easiest and kindest way to deal with this kind of situation. Await reports.

I regret any slander of the Blueberry Boy Bait. Almost a week later, it is still moist and delicious.

Yesterday got the promised haircut at a spot in Williamsburg. "Ginger" (who amongst the hairdressers had no surname on her card, the boldness of which I kind of liked) was terrific - black bob, Joan Crawford lips and a 4" heel - and we chattered a mile a minute. She was very kind about the ill-judged at-home haircut and said, "I'm going to make it look like you cut it yourself - only good." The up-shot is, it looks pretty much the same, which is what I look for in a haircut.

While over there, I stopped by this vintage menwear store and while I was waiting for someone to ring me up (never a high priority in Williamsburg), overheard the salesgirl say, "I really wasn't into the way the bouncer acted. I mean, treating someone that way, it's just so 20th Century." Am obviously now saying this about everything.

Had plans to dine with David/Moishe (always playing with his psuedo) and due to a communication error ended up at Fette Sau (hipster bbq) while he was at DuMont Burger. Downed a quick bourbon then compromised on Bonita where we had some very good tacos (fish, pork resoectively) and deemed things "20th Century" for a while, also the fact that this hipster whom he approached on the bus the other day was obviously lying when he claimed a shirt was "vintage" and it obviously wasn't. (NB this sort of behavior is highly 20th C.) Slim spent the evening with the Old Timey musicians nd did a little light tree-climbing. "We're having a party in Central park tomorrow night, you should come,' Slim told me when he came home much later. Further questioning revealed it to be the worst party ever (aka "drinking out of a paper bag") so I said I'd think about it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I have read about half of Never Let Me Go and just don't know that I can finish it. It's heartbreaking, but more to the point, all the "donations" business makes me a bit light-headed. Well, more than a bit: I fainted on the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway platform todayon my way home from the Greenmarket (in fairness I think there's something wrong physically) and am still woozy now. Then too, was duped: several people who know my strong feelings about fake governments and vaguely post-apolocalyptic stuff generally deliberately concealed this aspect of the novel from me, which is fair enough as I'm completely unreasonable on this point, but still galling.

Slim passed his exam with flying colors - 95% - but then hurt my feelings by opting to celebrate with the dullest sorts of debauchery instead of a dinner or something. When I told him why I was miffed, he tried to make it up to me by arranging a date for tomorrow, but I told him coolly that he'd really need to give me more notice as I'm booked through Sunday, which is really only partially true as my plans for Thursday are just going to a French movie by myself at the Film Forum.

("All-around gymnasts are like the Chinese panda: tougher and tougher to find.")

I am getting a haircut tomorrow.
"Do you want something edgy or more classic?" asked the guy at the desk (who was rocking a bob, skinny tie and suspenders.)
"I want," I said, "someone who won't scold me for having cut my own hair." Let's hope "Ginger" is that person!

I picked up a number of 60s comfort reads at the SalvA on Bedford: Hedgerow and From Secret Places, both English country-house romantic suspense. Holding them for a rainy day.

There are two very cute hipster carpenters working on the (we hear) nascent whiskey bar next door to the shop. Buckingham and the younger one are engaged in a silent flirtation. I gave Maeve explicit instructions to make Buck speak to him on some pretext and, if she won't, to go and instruct him to ask her out. Or at least talk her up. I went over to do it myself yesterday but they'd already knocked off for the day. I have no qualms about humiliating myself on my friends' account. Time allowing, I'm going to swing by Ready-Set tomorrow and, if I see a promising-looking young carpenter, put in a good work for Buckingham. (She fancies the idea of a sensitive woodworker. Well, don't we all. Slim of course is in fact a carpenter at the Met, so there you are.)

Slim came by to check on me post-faint. Now he's out with some friends from North Carolina, all of whom play Old Timey banjo and stuff. I admire this tremendously but never know what to talk about with this genre of friend as I always feel rather talky and neurasthenic, as though I ought to be able to just whip out a harp and yowl something soulful and alternately be kind of wise and silent - or at the very least throw back a lot of liquor and have a husky laugh. Well, they say the Jewish gene makes for lightweights, so that's half an excuse.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Buckingham just friended Pigeon O'Brien from my Facebook account.
Just went to the bookstore, could not wait. I tried to find the recc'd The Likeness but need the price and portability of a paperback - I don't have much confidence in my libris branch - so it may be a while. I ended up cracking and buying Never Let Me Go which is probably just as well as I have a bad tendency to destroy books I borrow - bbq sauce, etc., she said vaguely - and then feel compelled to buy replacements anyway. I also succombed to a new edition of Moominsummer Madness
, the very best Moomin book, plus Patrick Leigh Fermor's Time of Gifts, in which he finds the value of silence in monasteries all over Europe, in, presumably, characteristically lovely prose. Methinks I'll need to rec this to GK4, former fiance, given his many years studying monasticism and his occasional flirtations with vacations at La Grande Chartreuse. I also want to suggest he download this new Grizzly Bear song from myspace - "While You Wait For the Others" (and which by happy chance is also on the playlist at work.) We're supposed to have cut off contact, but given that he sent me a very plaintive plea for recipes he can make in advance (he invoked straitened financial circumstances) the other day, I think this will be okay. I gave him recipes for chili, a couscous dish, and the enchiladas (of which Slim, the pig, apparently ate five.)


Slim has his big financial exam tomorrow afternoon so I'm giving him a wide berth for studying. I also laid in Tollhouse cookies and some of those vegetable enchiladas he likes. I have had good luck with cookies lately; since I started melting the butter (I've been doubling the salt and adding very large hunks of walnut for years) the texture's been excellent - or at any rate, just the way I like them. I sometimes think Cook's promises of objective perfection are dicey when your definition of the platonic ideal differs from theirs, as in the case of banana bread. In case you can't tell, I'm very hungry. I've been looking at appealing/appalling casseroles on taste of home all morning and my yogurt is looking increasingly sad and lacking in Velveeta, ground beef and white sauce.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Have decided to give some Boy Bait to Bonecrusher.

Boy Bait

The Blueberry Boy Bait is somewhat less enticing than I had hoped. Plus, huge: an entire 13x9" worth. I guess it's good for what it is, but I'd anticipated a denser, more coffee-cake-like texture and this is decidedly fluffy.(I used Cook's Country, which is a division of Cook's Illustrated so obviously the recipe is perfect.) Slim was up all night and was only baited into consuming a small square. (He was trading gold, obvs.)

Still between books - finished A Special Kind of Love - and the panic is setting in. Never Let Me Go has been intimated but I don't know that I can wait for Amazon/my landlord to get it to me - I have mentioned his practice of dumping five Time Outs on my doorstep at a time, right? Usually on a Sunday.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

On the Town With the Petite Sophisticate

Double-feature last night: first Mostly Mozart (WAM, Faure) and then downtown for Francis and the Lights show at Mercury Lounge. In between we got some steak fries at Katz's.

(Wow, uneven bars look really hard. I have a Blueberry Boy Bait in the oven.)

Soemtimes the Mercury Lounge whips me into a rage but last night I was reasonably calm; I mean, I was kind of irritated by the amount of self-consciously sexy dancing going on by a nearby group of girls; and, you know, I'm pretty sick of just anyone thinking she can throw aggressive glasses on which have nothing to do with her face; and this one guy crashed into me and kind of hurt my foot - but, overall, as good a show as one expects from Mr. Starlight - certainly one of the hardest-working men on the indie rock scene. Slim's not in his good graces anymore because he addressed him by his real name AND on another occasion referred to his style as "funk." The one time I had dealings with him I was so intimidated by his romantic pallor and palpable air of melancholy that I couldn't do more than ask him, 'is that carpaccio?" (It was.)

(Boy Bait looks good.)

Subway smells better. Maeve brought me (along with tub of maple butter from Polly's Pancake Parlor) a really bizarre career romance called A Special Kind of Love, which I suppose refers to social worker Helen's love for her work, as she seems to despise and maltreat all the men I've run across so far, to say nothing of her secretary and her patients. Await further reports.