Friday, December 31, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In Which Simon Fails to be Disgusted


My intention yesterday was to use one of the two jars of curry sauce that I have for some reason, but I forgot that I did not have any vegetables. I went to the store a few days ago but they had no cauliflower and I really wanted cauliflower so I decided I would eat something else and then go back. So I did. And then I forgot to go back on the appointed day of curry-eating. And then it was 6 p.m. and I was too hungry to go to the store, so I scrounged around and found those horrifying Quorn Fungus Nuggets (go here for previous post) in my freezer. And I guess I was in an experimental mood because I decided to have some.

I'm sorry to say my reaction was not very interesting. They taste as much like chicken as chicken does these days, which is to say, not much. The inside bears a strong visual resemblance to whatever is in a chicken nugget (presumably chicken, but I wouldn't bet my life on it) but is slightly more rubbery. They are not horrible. They are not delicious. They are a bit dry. They don't taste like mushrooms, but they don't taste like much else, either. If they had not had a coating of bread crumbs and fat, I would not have finished them out of sheer boredom. I still think mycoprotein is a revolting idea, but if there were nothing else left to eat in the world, I could live with it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spike Your Juice: Before

Ivan and I started a Spike Your Juice ("A European Favorite!") kit yesterday. We are allowed to taste it tomorrow at noon. This is how it looked yesterday:


According to Ivan, Events Have Developed:

our juice is frothing
father seemed to think it is fine
mother wants to cover it with a bag
father says experiments that explode on the walls make the best stories

Then she said this:

i just like that it says "contains 100% juice" on the back
and then i look at it
and i think to myself
"not anymore!"

Part of me thinks the whole family has been sampling it early. You heard that thing about her mom and the eggnog, right? You never know with these people.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Acceptance

For the past few months I have been in the slow process of accepting that I cannot read all the books in the world AND that it is not necessary to read all the books in my immediate vicinity if I do not really feel interested in them even if they are supposed to be good AND that I do not need to keep books that I am quite certain I will never refer to again and/or I didn't like. I am making good progress on things I do like, which means I'm having to shelve more stuff, which means I need more space, so everything I do not anticipate ever needing to reference must go.

The most shocking thing that I intend to get rid of is Margaret Atwood's Wilderness Tips. A secret that I mostly try to keep is that I am not really interested in Margaret Atwood's world view. The Handmaid's Tale was good, though deeply depressing. Her other writing leaves me cold and unmoved, and one short story, "Hairball," very nearly made me puke. Sheer grossness and also incredibly malicious and not at all funny. The sort of feminism that she likes strikes me as kind of warped and curiously dated. The only thing I have really liked is "Death by Landscape," which is fantastic and creepy and perfect. I don't know why I'm going into this. I think I feel guilty getting rid of Margaret Atwood because there's nothing wrong with her writing. She just isn't for me. I am also not totally wild for Alice Munro. Dear Canadian writers born in the thirties: I'm sorry. Apparently I just don't get you. No hard feelings, okay? Maybe I'll understand when I'm seventy.

I'm also returning to Ivan, while she's home, the untouched and dusty copy of Sophie's World that she lent me something like ten years ago. It's very long and it's about philosophy and something else I've come to accept is that my interest in philosophy is rather narrow. It will not last five HUNDRED pages. I think that Modern Philosophy class I took my first semester in college was a mistake. What I really wanted to take was non-modern philosophy, but instead I ended up reading a book called Mortal Questions, which I think we can all agree is a fairly pretentious title for something not written by Plato.



However, I am keeping Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges, even though it is 25% boring and is therefore 25% unread. Formerly this would have been unacceptable to me but I decided to accept it because I wanted to get to John Cheever. Anyway, when I like Borges's stories, I like them a lot and find them mesmerizing. The rest of the time, I have a hard time staying awake. Borges seems to have been more interested in ideas than people, and the humans in his stories tend to be ciphers in the enactment of an idea. This makes his writing very beautiful and unsettling, and gives you the feeling that the world is much more mysterious than you had previously believed, but at the same time it's difficult to be emotionally engaged in any given story. He is compared often to Edgar Allen Poe, but I find myself on the edge of my seat with Poe, and with Borges I am usually sort of flummoxed until the end, at which point I say, "Oh," and turn to the next story. I would also like to complain that he uses too many proper nouns. This probably seems overly picky, but if you start your story with a really long sentence involving fifteen clauses, and it's full of names and places in languages your eyes are not accustomed to, and includes several faux-academic references that require a great deal of messy punctuation, and you don't get to the main verb until you're three words from the end, it is not MY fault if I go into the second sentence not knowing what the hell you are trying to get at. . . . Nevertheless, if you feel like reading some Borges, I particularly like "The Garden of Forking Paths" and "The Zahir." One thing about him is that his stories are very short.

I am now reading a huge collection of short stories by John Cheever. The upper-middle-class ennui is absolutely smothering. His problems were so preventable. Sometimes you just want to shout STOP DRINKING, JOHN CHEEVER! THE WORLD WILL LOOK BETTER! ALSO, FYI,  IT IS OKAY TO BE GAY. But does he listen? No. He died twenty-eight years ago. If he were born today he would be an entirely different and likely much happier person. I find that very sad. But his writing is still good. So there's that. This post is about acceptance, after all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Home

Conversations with my mother:

I: Is this cider good?
M: I don't know, drink it?
I: I think it's good...
M: Well, pour some in a glass.
I: It's not chunky?
M: That's good. The pre-spiked eggnog I got was a little chunky.
I: Did you take it back?
M: Well, after the second glass it didn't seem like much of a problem...

I: My neck really hurts...
M: Well, what pillows did you sleep on?
I: The ones on the bed?
M: Oh, those are DECORATIVE pillows. I keep the real ones in the guest room. I'll let you have one tonight.
I: Thanks?

M: Did you eat one of those apples from the fridge?
I: Yes?
M: And it was ok?
I: Yes?
M: I think I bought those in October...
I: Really?
M: Yeah, it's probably safe to say "nothing in the fridge right now is edible".
I: I really wish you had told me that before you went to bed.

Since a hyper awareness of sell by dates is now necessary for my survival, I went to Wegmans with my mother. They had a mechanical fisherman selling oysters. He pivots and raises an arm. They had Baci. They had endives. They had a Christmas cookie decorating station with an actual full-time employee in charge of frosting. What an amazing experience! It's good to be home.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I wanted a box.

What I got was a puzzle.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yours

I: I'm hungry
C: You could eat the eggplant.
I: I think I'm going to throw out the eggplant.
C: Oh.
I: Why?
C: Well I thought of a good post I could do with the eggplant, but I would have to pretend it was mine...
I: ...
I: you have my blessing. The eggplant is yours.

And now we can all wait with baited breath. carolynclark.tumblr.com tune in to see the exciting adventures of an adopted eggplant.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I've become a kleptomaniac.

I do not want to become one of those blogs that just reblogs random stuff from other people's blogs or YouTube videos, BUT I'm making an exception because this made me laugh so much. I stole it from David Malki ! who writes a comic called Wondermark that is consistently hilarious. To sum up, this is a slide from some talk he gave on "True Stuff from Old Books." The slides were all really weird, but this one I just could not make sense of:


PARDON? WHY IS ISABELLA LIKELY TO DIE OF CEREBROSPINAL MENINGITIS? WHAT HAS THAT DO TO WITH PERUSING VOLUMES? WHAT KIND OF CONTEXT COULD POSSIBLY RENDER THIS SENSIBLE?

Unfortunately the slides from the talk don't come with the talk itself, so I cannot answer these questions. Please leave any guesses in the comments. I promise to consider them carefully.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I stole this from someone else's blog.

I have recently started subscribing to this blog called Scribal Terror, which is written by a smart lady who posts random and interesting things. Yesterday she posted a bit of a speech that Cromwell gave Parliament, that could serve as well today:

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes, have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!

Intolerably odious indeed. This is exactly how I feel right now.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Squid Ink Pasta


One of several items in that lovely package that Ivan sent for my birthday was this. Squid ink pasta. Because she knows what an adventurous eater I am. I figure I'll have it with the fungus-nuggets and make a night of it! I will report back on the experience if I survive it. Honestly, though, it's packaged so beautifully it makes me hungry when I look at it. Probably helps that it's in Italian and it does not say SQUIDS WERE INVOLVED IN THIS on the front.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Things I've Been Wanting to Share With You All

So I spent some time in a foreign country working on a documentary for a MAD MAN. And I've been wanting to write about it, but I didn't want to get dooced. And then I realized that I WANTED to be dooced, so I figured I'd save everyone a lot of googling, and I quit and moved back to America... and now I can share with you "The Story of My Insane Former Boss and a Bridge in Italy". This is told through an email I sent to Simon with the subject line "forgot"

"forgot to tell you about yesterday when Brando was like "EYE VAN, you have time to walk to the car? I will tell you about the polar bear project." And I said sure and started to follow him out and he was like "wait, get a pencil", and handed me a script that I assumed I was going to write on. So I left my notebook and pen on the desk, found a pencil and went outside where he was like "wait, do you have money and a coat?". ummmm, to walk to the car? sure. So I go upstairs and grab my change purse which has like six Euro in it, and my umbrella. Now, mind you it's POURING outside and thundering and lightning and it's rush hour. So Brando has me get in the car and we start driving... and I realized he has a flight that he's late for-- so now I'm starting to panic that he's going to drag me out to Fumincino and leave me there with six euro, an umbrella and a pencil. And we're driving and he's telling me what to write for the script and he's not watching the road, he's watching what I'm writing, giving me notes like "lots of drama! brava!" and then looking at my paper-- my paper which is NOT the script he had me bring, but a random sticky note pad he found the the car, because he didn't want me to mess up the script with pencil marks. Why did I need the pencil? No one will ever know. But he's looking at my paper and going "write it-- write the word drama! ok, good, glad you write it". yes, I now have one full sticky note dedicated to the work "Drama!"

and you know how well I ride and read in the car. So i'm feeling like I'm going to puke, Brando is bombing through the streets of Trastevere, I have NO IDEA where I am-- I have no phone, no computer, no map, not enough money to get back from FCO if we end up there, and the rain is coming down in buckets. Finally we get to the end of the script, Brando pulls over at a bridge, says we're in Trastevere, tells me not to get the script wet and "Ciao, darling!". And there I am-- three miles from the office, no idea what sort of public transportation is around, thunder and lightning, with nothing but six euro, a pencil and what is essentially a lightning rod. And from there I walked back to the office.

and that was my day.

today he called and yelled at me when I didn't know what A4 paper was.

aren't you glad you're self employed?"

And that, my friends, was the tip of the insanity iceberg.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

In Which: Melted Chocolate Proves Hard to Control

A while ago -- it feels like years, but it might only have been one -- my mother gave me this recipe for edible dreidels. I finally got around to making them this year, and in doing so I discovered that a career as a chocolatier is probably not in my future. Melted chocolate is globby! And there is a fine line between melting it and burning it, which I managed only by dumb luck to stay on the correct side of. But, although my dreidels do not look quite as delicate and, uh, dreidel-like, as the ones in the picture I was aiming for, they are still pretty sweet. Literally. Hahaha.





Also, because I had some extra ingredients, I made some chocolate-covered pretzels, pictured here coming out of some kind of space vortex:


I did not manage to use the two ounces of white chocolate, so I left it out just for fun. And it was fun:

video

Yes, I am the biggest ever dork for taking an actual video. But come on. That is kind of awesome.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Oops

I keep forgetting to post. I do not have much to talk about. I've been in a limbo of letter-writing and novel-reading. And watching Dead Like Me. I think Callum Blue and David Tennant might be the same person. Why has there not been an inquiry in this? It's very suspicious. Also, it snowed, so I investigated that, and found out that I need boots. Also, I have been keeping an eye out for Matilda, but so far she has proven either much dumber than George (does not know a nice peanut butter-and-oatmeal concoction when she smells it) or much smarter (knows a trap when she sees it). This remains puzzling. Also, my last incandescent bulb blew, so I replaced it, and it's so much bigger that it sticks out of the lamp and blinds me, so I had to turn the shade around so it's pointing upwards, and now it's unavoidably clear that I need to dust in the corner by my desk. Also, do you know what's great? Fruit punch. Also, I ripped the nosepad on my glasses. No idea how. Thought about superglue, decided there was too much danger of gluing my glasses to my face permanently. Similar things have happened. To me. Also, did you know Eastman Kodak was where the adhesive in superglue was invented? Also, I have been spelling superglue wrong on purpose as a way of sticking it to the man, which I think is a small price for the man to pay for coming up with a great name for something and cornering the market. Folks, we here in Simon's brain have truly and sincerely run out of things to say. Thank you for stopping in. Good night.