Sunday, July 11, 2010

Scallions, shallots, brain block ...

I got the brakes on my car fixed by one of those old-school mechanics in a garage filled with enough parts to build a Camaro from scratch. Dirty hands and a smoker. He just won a lifelong contract with my Honda Civic. Lesson learned: When your 80-year-old neighbor likes a certain mechanic, it's probably a good mechanic.

The bad news is that I'll no longer be zipping around town in Chuck's Ford Focus, which I liked to think of as a sexy rental hot rod. This has nothing to do with the car and everything to do with the fact that his car isn't a rolling time capsule of things eaten in the past seven years, and a makeshift RubberMade for books, clothes, sporting equipment ... And his factory stereo is superior to my factory stereo.


2010 will henceforth be known as The Summer of Trip Shakespeare. Can't. Get. Enough.


Anyway: Some weeks I look at this list of things I did during the week and think: Christa. You're fucking Super Woman. That said: I haven't done laundry in weeks, my jeans have established muscle memory, and I'm building a furry mold product in the refrigerator that I plan to turn into a coat this winter.

So. Here is what I made, read and watched this past week. 


Roasted Tomato-Bread Soup: This is like onion soup with tomatoes, which makes it socially acceptable to eat it when it is warm outside. The best part -- just like in onion soup -- is the crusty bread that gives it heartiness. Everything is roasted instead of like stirring onions for an hour or until your wrists bulge freakishly. I might try making onion soup the same way, without tomatoes, after Labor Day.

Chicken Stuffed with Pimiento Cheese: Slice open chicken breast. Stick it full of shredded gouda, pimento, scallions and paprika mixture. First brown it. Then bake it. This is pretty damn good.

FUN FACT: I can never remember the difference between scallions and shallots. Like there is seriously a dead spot in my brain where identifying these two things lives. I certainly cannot do it on demand. Sometimes when I walk through the grocery store and see shallots, I have to say to myself: "Shallots." And hope this time it sticks.

Summer Vegetable Crepes: Haha, crepes. ... The recipe promised that my grocery store would have pre-made crepes available near produce or the refrigerated tortillas. Lies. But the more I read the recipe, the more I realized that this would be fine on tortillas -- or as Chuck called them "The poor man's crepes." This is good. Summery. I was actually surprised that it was better than the mediocre-ness I expected.

Table for Three: I admit that I only watched this obnoxious rom com because it starred Sophia Bush and it was streaming on Netflix and I had some brain juice I wanted to dehydrate. It is, as you would expect, clunky with chaos and silliness. But there was a line so funny in the beginning that made me hang in for the long haul. And it ended up being more entertaining than half of the shit that doesn't go straight to DVD and then steam for seemingly free into one's home. This is not a recommendation. This is acknowledgment that this movie won't make you want to kill yourself.

Love Story
This book is one of the first "adult" books I read in my post Babysitter's Club years, and I wept like a Twi-hard. I'm sure I have seen the movie before, but never in a way that made me so painfully aware that the spunk and sass that engulfs Oliver Barrett IV and Jennifer Cavalleri in the early stages of their relationship is so fucking annoying. Seriously. Good sass: Veronica Mars. Bad sass: "Love Story." Also: those hockey scenes are pitiful.

Factotum Right now, I truly believe I could watch this movie every day for the rest of my life. Based on the book by Bukowski and starring Matt Dillion matching his Dallas Winston performance.

Hotel Iris: A Novel by Yoko Ogawa: Mari is manning the front desk at the ramshackle sea-side hotel owned by her mother the night before the start of the busy season when a second-floor scuffle breaks out between a guest and a prostitute. The latter lands in the hallway, screeching and flailing, amid a mess of tossed pillows, strewn clothing, and a spilled purse. Other guests file into the hallway to gawk, and the john — a stoic suit-wearing sort — says to the woman in a hypnotic voice Mari likens to a mellow horn or a cello:
“Shut up, whore.”
His voice wedges itself in Mari’s soul, and is the starter pistol to a whirlwind sadomasochistic, um . . . romance?. . . between the 17-year-old high school drop out with long shiny hair and a truck-load of self loathing, and the man — a translator who lives alone on an island and is rumored to have murdered his wife, the unlikely stars of Yoko Ogawa’s dark Japanese novella "Hotel Iris."

Full review here

Real World (Vintage International) Natsuo Kirino: Natsuo Kirino has a way of describing heinous death scenes, and subsequent clean up, in a lazy, clinical monotone typically reserved for reciting the tasks on a to-do list. This can either create chilling suspense for the lack of emotion, or it can lull a reader into a desensitized state where the word “Smush!” in reference to skull-implement contact barely causes pause.
In her novel "Real World," a high school boy nicknamed “Worm” bludgeons his mother to death with a baseball bat for no real reason beyond the perceived slightings that plague all emo teens — not just those living in a Japanese suburb: She’s annoying. He’s under too much pressure.

Full review here

post office: A Novel by Charles Bukowski: If you have ever taken the majority of your dinners with an employee of the United States Postal Service, you will learn that Charles Bukowski's novel “Post Office” is what these people use instead of a mirror. This has long been a favorite book of my boyfriend, and one he has suggested I read for an accurate look at how he spends his business hours.  Finally, fueled by back-to-back viewings of the movie “Factotum,” and the documentary “Born into It,” I had built up some juice for more of a Bukowski binge. The curmudgeonly drunk and dirty old man doesn't just appeal to government workers, after all. Like anyone who has ever been a 20-something who enjoys scrambling word combinations and giving mouth-to-mouth to a bottle of whatever, I, too, have found an occasional Bukowski-ism that resonates. Until now, I've only read his poetry – which I love for its stark and frank narrative qualities and for the seedy portraits of old-school Hollywood gutter life. In non-rhyming verse. 

Full review will be here.  

1 comment:

Mach1 said...

First, you and Papa Mach1 should have a conversation about Trip Shakespeare sometime.

Second, I thought you hated handling raw chicken breasts.

Third, it is only because of you that I know what little I know of modern Japanese literature. This is horribly, horribly stereotypical, but I always thought that culture was more interested in boderline pornographic hologram-cartoon characters and robot anuimals.