Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Just the tip ...

I used to be psychic and still am once in awhile, which is why I was not at all surprised when Chuck half chopped off his finger last night.

We were in a hunger standoff that only I was privy to: Which one of us would cry "Uncle!" and crawl emaciated, cheeks sunken, eyes blackened, stomach puffed with bloat into the kitchen and make us dinner. I won. I could hear him cutting up root vegetables and tossing them into a roasting pan while I sprawled on the couch reading, well past hungry and back to not hungry anymore.

"That doesn't sound good," I thought, listening to him chop. "He's going to cut himself."
He had moved on to the turnips and he really had a rhythm going.
"Nope, really. Not good," I thought. "Should I warn him?"


I went into the kitchen and blood was streaming from the tip of the pinkie finger on his left hand. He was running it under water and had already taken to referring to this particular body part as a "flap."

Blood can either make me very aware of the fragility of my legs, or it can spur me to action. I went with the latter, and didn't at all almost barf when he showed me something that looked like a finger with a pasty white shriveled toilet lid.

We discussed stitches, Neosprin, Band Aids and regeneration, and he bandaged himself up and wondered how this would affect his livelihood.

Then I (very carefully) finished making dinner. So I guess he won.

The leftovers:

Today he Googled "Should I get stitches?" and learned that he should a) if the wound wouldn't stop bleeding; b) if finger fat was visible. And then I almost fainted.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Me neither! ...

Hello everyone in the world!

This past weekend I did more in two days than I ever do in an entire month. We went to a rhubarb festival where I ate a bratwurst slathered in rhubarb relish and had rhubarb and custard cake and received a good touch from a larger than life rhubarb shaped human.

Then we went to the Park Point Art Fair and developed a pretty solid design plan for our backyard. Details withheld to be coy.

Late in the evening we stopped by a birthday party at RTQ's and caught the tail end of The Acceleratii, who had incorporated laser beams into their raunchabilly set. Favorite moment: The front man yells "Who wants to hear more music, me neither!" Arms raised in the air, a sort of toddler stumble, then they immediately began playing another song.

Radzo was in the hizzo, but failed in her one job for the night: recording a conversation between our significant others about Sean Penn and Marky Mark and which one they would rather be touched by in a romantic way.

Chuck and I got all cranked on Red Bull and came home and ate the shit out of some eggless curry-flavored egg salad. It was nuts.

And then today we went to a matinee.

In other new: Here is what I made, watched and read this past week.

Saucy Tempeh Curry: This is a sauce made of tomatoes, shallots, garlic and a mix of spices served with fried tempeh. This was quick and easy and decent. I'm not really a rice person, so we ate it on sauteed chard.

Quick Pesto with Broiled Tomatoes: Well for the love of yum. I know that in the summer tomatoes really stand alone and require no dressing up of any kind. But this! This is delicious. First you make a pesto using basil, pine nuts, oil, garlic and nutritional yeast. Then you smear it on some halved tomatoes. Then you sprinkle some panko breadcrumbs on the top and broil the whole mess for three, four minutes. Then you freak the fuck out. From Vegetarian Times.

Carrot Cake Quinoa Cereal: This was billed as tasting like carrot cake for breakfast. It's quinoa which is boiled in carrot juice, then mixed with a bunch of spices. It was scientifically interesting to me to make it using my own two feet.

Eggless Curried Egg Salad: This is quick and easy: Squash up some tofu, mix it with Veganaise, throw in some scallions, add some curry powder and Dijon mustard and make a sandwich. I used Lefse because I love Lefse.

Eggplant and Lentil Chili Mole with Corn and Scallion Cornbread: Chili in the summer? Pista, have you lost your ever-loving mind? Absolutely not. We're still running our furnace here. So this mixes green lentils and zucchini in a mole sauce. Good stuff. I made some corn bread to go with it, which is like normal corn bread except instead of sugar it uses agave and it included corn kernels and scallions. This was all quite good.

Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen's fan fiction about Paris in the 1920s is geeky, delicious fun. I giggled through the whole thing, especially every time Hemingway opened his mouth. Never since Bill & Ted, I tell you.

The White Devil: A Novel by Justin Evans: This follow up to Evan's debut novel "A Good and Happy Child," which I love love loved, is a little meh. It's a ghost story starring Lord Byron's high school boyfriend.

Full review will be here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Was our castle and our keep ...

As anyone who has ever seen a movie knows, sometimes it is important for the protagonist to stand in the front yard of her childhood home. To ramp up the decibels on pensive. Kick a stray soccer ball back to the young girl who is sleeping in her childhood bedroom. Put her hands in her pockets and hear the song "Eye of the Tiger" and imagine all the choreography that was performed on this slab of boulevard in 1985.

Barring that, a protagonist can be Facebook friends with one of the people who moved into the house after her parents moved out. (True story. I'm not sure how it happened other than that it is 2011 and we make words move on a screen with our fingers). About a year ago I went through her photos looking for a sliver of recognizable basement paneling or a set of trees in the backyard that served as a goal. A terrible, lopsided goal on uneven ground, but a goal nonetheless.

Today she posted a status that said they had sold the house after just two days on the market and are moving. Wha?! I don't know-know these people. I've met the husband half once. I know of them and we have some friends in common. The husband got my ex-boyfriend's job when my ex-boyfriend moved on to his own dream job in another state. So it feels really friendly. When I commented on the woman's status she sent me the listing, which included 25 photos for me to go memory lane-loco over.

First she warned me that the purple carpeting in my old bedroom was gone. And yes: It's embarrassing when strangers are privy to the decor decision you made in second grade. For some shame there is no statute of limitation.

Much like those people who move away and imagine a velvet rope crosses the highway in their wake and nothing moves or grows and you can't use flash photography, I was surprised to find full-sized bushes in the backyard and hardwood floors in the kitchen and dining room. Walls that were painted by someone with an eye for color rather than my mom's four favorite shades of cream. And of course, no more purple carpeting. Honestly, I couldn't figure out for sure which room was my old bedroom. Ouch on my part.

And so I present: Pictures of where I grew up!

This was a new development when we moved in in about 1983. The roof of the garage was supposed to peak like an A, but the contractor fucked it up. They build the garage so tall that my dad said "You could park a semi in there!" We were driving past the lot every day so he could monitor progress. He went home and penciled a re-design and we ended up with that sloped roof.

Most of my trick soccer moves were honed in that front yard. So were gymnastic dance routines to songs like "Mr. Roboto," "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go," and "Thriller."

My dad built me a mini basketball court in the backyard. It extended as far as a free throw line and the hoop was regulation height. I quit playing basketball in ninth grade. I hated basketball and I now understand that was because I'm not good at collaborating and basketball is just a giant group project in stupid shorts in front of people who love nachos.

My brother and I played one-on-one occasionally. He was a hockey player with no inches on me, but he was a damn-fine little athlete. Around 1993 he came home for Easter with my future sister-in-law. We started playing this game that eventually drew everyone to the window or deck. It was tense, it was sweaty and the fouls were ugly.

Reader(s), I beat the motherfucker. For the first time in my life. I beat him by two points. I did not play "We are the Champions" on the stereo in the living room like he did the other 550 times he won. I see no reason to ever play him again.

Anyway, my bedroom was the window on the lower right side of this picture. And yes I used to climb out of it in the middle of the night.

For many years we had an unfinished basement. Just a cement slab with an area cut out where the fireplace would eventually be built. My brother and I played floor hockey down here, using the future fireplace as a goal.

But mostly this is where I would roller skate in circles while listening to tapes or "American Top 40" on a clunky gray boom box. There are at least three dozen songs from the 1980s that are the sound of roller skating in my basement.

To name a few:
"Sussudio" by Phil Collins
"Modern Love" by David Bowie
"Africa" by Toto
"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" by Culture Club
"I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues," by Elton John
Whatever song I heard at Subway today and couldn't place.

My brother and I shared this bathroom in the basement. (It looked nothing like this). It had an overhead heater. I would sit in there on a bar stool with the heat going. Playing with my hair and singing into a brush. Most of those songs live on in my karaoke repretoire. This is how I can sing "Borderline" with my eyes closed. When Depeche Mode was on its "Violator" tour I listened to "Black Celebration" and "Music for the Masses" in here in the dark. Sometimes blinking the lights for a strobe effect.

I used to sit at this counter and talk on the phone. One time Fannie called me and when I got off the phone my brother said "What did she want?" I said "I'm getting to the age where sometimes I just talk on the phone."

Monday, June 20, 2011

100 percent sugar full ...

Q. Dear Pista: Did you run the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon this year? What was your time? Did you barf up jalapeno cheese doodles and Blue Sky Orange Cream soda on London Road?

A. No, I did not run the half marathon this year. Yes, I was entered. No, I wasn't feeling protective of my mortality, I just did not train at all and waking up at 4 a.m. to fail is a bad way to start the day. I bet my time would have been 2 hours, 40 minutes and that today it would hurt to blink.

Lil Latrell slid into town last Wednesday night after a 10 hour drive from Lawrence, Kansas, perched atop a pillow to prevent her butt bones from slicing through her skin.

On Thursday we had a little lunch party at Takk for Maten, where we all ate lefse-based foods and shot the shit. That night we had a pizza and potato chip party and watched a movie.

On Friday we went to this annual luncheon that we always go to, where our friend, a short man in a sweater vest with a good sense of humor, is the emcee of events. We got there late, per usual, and food had to be specially brought out to us. And then, of course, it was smothered in mushrooms. I subsisted on dessert.

Later in the day, Latrell surprised me with access to a dense chocolate cake with surprising hints of cherry. She had been wandering around downtown Duluth and ended up getting ambushed by a man dressed like Sasquatch, and -- according to her -- really committed to the part by also smelling like Sasquatch, too. That evening I went down to Canal Park to watch her compete in the 5K race, which she approached in a very casual way and took photographs along the 3-plus mile route. We spent the night sitting on the couch and watching the tube.

(This is Lil Latrell with Former Landlord and the Sweat Stain of Wonder).

We had a lazy Saturday. Brunch at the Duluth Grill then off to gather supplies for a party later that night. Latrell, a baker, made about 5 dozen mini cupcakes: Red Velvet with a chocolate coffee frosting and with traditional frosting, and some lemon cupcakes. Latrell has always been a dessert master, but she has really upped the ante.

Fun math: 5 dozen mini cupcakes, 14 people. Number of mini cupcakes left today: 0. I probably had at least 9.

S'Fire and VNick brought a Maple Fondue with things to put in it like strawberries or bread or my personal favorito: Smoked Gouda. This was so so awesome. Mostly the party was a mix of strange couch conversation and loud porch conversations. Anyway, the party ended around the time when The Great Archivist played a Bach record and everyone skidded for the door. Then he and Chuck started thinking about putting on clown makeup and heading to the Quarry. It is unclear why they didn't follow up with that plan.

JCrew informed me on Sunday that she had frosting all over the inside of her purse from when she tried to smuggle out some loot.

Anyway: Here is what I ate, watched and read this past week. And next week: You can bet your sweet ass that things go back to light on sugar, heavy on things plucked from the lawn. As we speak, Chuck is juicing me up a bunch of carrots and an apple.

Caprese Benedict: The last time we were in LA I busted out of Cath's apartment, which had felled its occupants with hangover symptoms, and made for a brunch spot by myself. I ended up eating this super good something that was like eggs benedict, but had a red wine sauce instead of hollendaise. I haven't tried to replicate it, but this was a pretty kick ass take on it from Duluth Grill. It's two lightly basted eggs, a slice of tomato, a slice of moz, then topped with balsamic vinaigrette. On a bagel. It was 90 percent awesome. The bagel didn't do much for me. But I will make this at home.


Wasabi Mashed Potatoes and Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Shallots and Sesame Seeds: Chuck made these two things for dinner a few nights ago, an event I like to call "The night Chuck made me starve for dinner." All of this was really good, but it wasn't enough to count as a meal and so I went apeshit on a bunch of Granola afterward.

Treme: The Complete First Season: Just started watching this HBO series about post-Katrina New Orleans. So far, so good.

Strictly BallroomLatrell and I watched this kinda mockumentary kinda narrative about a ballroom dancer trying to cut loose from the steps recognized by the official ballroom dance judges. Cute.

My Most Secret Desire

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Underneath your clothes ...

Fannie suggested that we stop wearing underwear in 1999. We were living together in a tiny two-bedroom apartment in Rochester that she cleaned compulsively when she was hungover, stuffing the litter box into my room where it would balance precariously on top of dirty jeans and sweatshirts. A reminder to empty it.

"I guess I don't really get the point of them," she said. "I'm not going to wear them anymore."

I shrugged and followed her lead. No more underwear. No problem.

For many years I'd been an underwear girl. I dug through discount bins, actively hunting silk and gaudy. Things that looked like they were scraps from the tropical-colored muumuus of state lottery winners. Twin triangles connected by strings. Lacy. Scalloped edges.

I started wearing what I believed to be sexy underwear well before I could possibly really understand the meaning of sexy underwear. And if I know that 14-year-old girl like I think I know that 14-year-old girl, she justified her purchases by saying something like: "I know no one sees them," shrug, "But it makes me feel prettier to know I'm wearing something sexy underneath my clothes." And I know that she read that line in either a hoarded modern-day bodice ripper, Seventeen magazine, or she saw it on the Lifetime Network. For as much as I like that girl, she is also a raging embarrassment.

I got out of the underwear business just in time. Soon after, thongs became a thing. I know me. I would have been one of those loyalists standing half-naked in a locker room telling strangers that, no, it didn't at all feel like I'd fallen crack-first on a tight rope. Maybe I would be lying. Or maybe I would have gotten used to it. Who knows? Not me. Not Fannie.

The only time it ever bothered me, not wearing underwear, was on New Year's Eve. The Italian foreign exchange student I'd been friends with in high school advised us all to wear red underwear on the last day of the year for good luck the following year. To avoid wearing green or purple at all costs. She also told us that Brenda Walsh was more popular with Italian viewers of "Beverly Hills: 90210" because the dubbed Italian voice that spoke her lines was more appealing than the dubbed Italian voice of Kelly Taylor. When high school graduation was held in our high school gymnasium and the after-party was a chaperoned casino night rather than an orgy on a beach in Santa Monica, I really felt for the poor girl and held on to her superstition to be nice. And because I'm superstitious. I continued to wear red underwear on New Year's Eve until Fannie's embargo. Admittedly, a handful of times the tug of a sure thing -- no strings attached good luck -- has been stronger than the tug of a certain lifestyle, and I've greeted Jan. 1 in red drawers.

Last week I decided to start wearing underwear again. Like all the time. The reason isn't any more well thought out than my initial decision not to. Although, I've had a lot of urinary tract infections in the past ten years. Probably more than most people. And most people wear underwear. I'm not a scientist. But, like I said, I am superstitious.

I've dabbled in underwear in the past and the moment that really stands out is when I forgot to pull them down before I went to the bathroom one time. Other times I've found them to be bulky and I've had flashbacks to the ruffled undies I wore under dresses as a tot.

More than a decade after I last went bulk underwear shopping, the world of underwear seems different now. Granny panties seem to have lost their stigma. Hip huggers and boy shorts feature adorable models on the package. The kind of normal girls you might want to be when you're just sitting around at home in your tank top and faux boxer briefs on a Saturday night, eating Activia and smiling. Frankly, I'm thrilled. They are comfortable. They are cute. Both cheeks are fully covered in fabric. I am one pair of shiny nylons and an invisible rope from looking like a super hero.

I know that no one sees them, but it makes me feel tougher to know that I look like Wonder Woman underneath my clothes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

E-asy like Sunday Morning ...

This week, for the first time in the history of the world, I read an entire book on Kindle. The circumstances include being an immediate gratification-y person and Barnes & Noble not having a copy of the book I wanted to read and wanting to read that book NOW. I also knew this wasn't going to be a book that I'd really feel like clutching to my bosom and resting my cheek against while we snuggle on a blanket and watch the sun set together.

Here are my thoughts on it:

1. I didn't hate it. At all. Within the first chapter I forgot that I was reading it on a Kindle.
2. At one point I was able to do a search when a character's name came up and I didn't remember who it was. This has actually been something that I've jokingly said before, that I wish there was a Search/Find function on old fashioned books.
3. The note function is really intuitive.


I'm sticking with book-books, and I'm not going to buy a Kindle or Nook. I might use Chuck's Kindle when emergencies happen and the book I want to read just is not available within the city limits. This stands (until I change my mind). Not to mention that I have a stack of about a zillion and twelve book-books I'm dying to read. So.

In other news, here is what I ate, watched, listened to and read this past week.

Red Thai Tofu: Red pepper, tofu, shallots, garlic, ginger, curry paste, soy sauce, agave and Thai basil. Okay. I thought this was going to be just another curry-flavored mix of vegetables. But Chuck had frozen the tofu, which I never do, and Whoa Nelly. Total game changer. It just oozes with the marinade. Recipe from "Appetite for Reduction" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Then! He upped the business on this one. He made Herbal Guacamole with Spicy Jicama that was wrapped in Romaine Lettuce and eaten like finger food. That one comes from "Raw Food Living," a not-cookbook by Sarma Melngailis.

Second Avenue Vegetable Korma: This is exactly what you would expect from a mix of veggies, broth, Indian spices and coconut milk. Still good, though. I served it on mashed sweet potatoes instead of rice and put a little of the leftover lite coconut milk into the potatoes to make them fluffier.

Vegetarian Posole: I made this just because I stumbled on the word "Posole" this week and decided I liked it. Although, I've heard tell that making it veg-style pretty much negates the concept of the soup, I still thought it was a nice little bit of food. Nothing special. But I had seconds, so that's something. (Holla, hominy!)

Smokey White Bean Quesadillas: This is this week's winner! How can a person go wrong with my two favoritos: Nutritional yeast and corn tortillas. These quesadillas are filled with a mix of white beans and tomatoes pureed, then nutritional yeast, then liquid smoke and garlic powder and then it goes between two tortillas and gets all fried up and loaded with taco fixings.

American Splendor: Gah! This was so good. It's a mix of bio pic-documentary about the writer Harvey Pekar. That was so so interesting. Includes a fictitious version and the real live dude. Totally, totally loved it.

Demolished Thoughts: This Thurston Moore album is like taking a way-back machine to 1990s Beck. And since that is actually the sound I want to hear right now, I'll take it.

The Alcoholic: Totally liked this graphic novel with words by Jonathan Ames, pictures by Dean Haspiel. It's heavy on memoir-y.

Full review will be here.

Your Voice in My Head: A Memoirby Emma Forrest: This review will be a) thought about; b) written; c) posted here. Until then I have no opinion.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Those damn devils ...

I think we can all agree as human beings that one of the worst fates to befall us is the reorganization of our neighborhood grocery store. It's so senseless and makes shopping seem left-handed and Novocaine-faced.

Tonight I was looking for this special box of delicious Chuck bought the other day, a honey-flavored granola cereal that is like Pow! Yum! I was browsing. A toddler chirped "Hi!" I chirped back and his dad rolled his eyes.

"I don't know," he was saying to an older woman, like a seriously older woman, like you could go knuckle-deep if you pressed a finger into one of her wrinkles. "I just don't know ..." He lingered at the edge of the aisle. "Hi!" his son chirped to someone else, totally negating the moment we had shared seconds earlier.

"What are you looking for?" I asked her.
"Corn Meal," she said.

She was staring at the Quaker Oates, the Quaker Grits, unable to resign herself to the fact that the Corn Meal wasn't with its fellow cardboard cylinders.

"I'll find it," I said.
I'm no stranger to Corn Meal. Sometimes I spontaneously burst into Corn Bread. Love the stuff. Anyway, she was having trouble seeing, I think, although I might be wrong because her lipstick was impeccable. But if we hauled off into a competitive 40 yard dash, I was going to kick her ass and finish my victory lap before she got out of the blocks.

I started zipping through the aisles and came across the man and the tot in the third.

"I don't even get what she's looking for," he said.
He seemed ... testy.
"I know what it is," I said. "I can find it."
"I mean, is she going to make corn bread, or what?" he asked.
"Maybe," I said. "Is she with you?"
"She's my great-grandma. Well, she's his great-grandma," he said. "She's my grandma. I don't go in grocery stores. My wife does this. ... I'm just trying to help my grandma out whenever I can. But I don't ... grocery stores."

I found it in the baking aisle, where I'd first over-looked it. I dropped it into the man's cart the next time I saw him. Then I ran into the trio again less than a minute later.

"They hid it," I said to her.
She turned to me, looked me square in the eye, scrunched up her face and spat:

"Those damn devils!"

I'm going to adopt that as my own. "Those damn devils." It's really satisfying to say. I tried it out a couple times in the car on the way home. "Those damn devils."

Anyway, her grandson looked tired. On edge. The kid was cute. The old lady told me she was going to use it to fry smelt.

Those damn devils.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Some days are like this ...

About 110 minutes until boyfriend leaves for work. Forgot to do something that eats 20 more minutes. Fake karate chop someone in your path, spend a minute in fake combat. Have to pee, have to pee.

See shady men standing on a corner and think: "Not today, boys. If you kidnap me, I'm going to spill urine all over the shag carpeting in the back of your white van." Unlock car. Get into car. Drive to along a street that has timed lights that reward drivers who go the speed limit. Unfortunately, this time suck called travel has you going 5 miles-per-hour over the speed limit so you must make your car perform ellipses at every intersection.

Also unfortunate: "Bad Romance" is on the radio. Still in rough draft status of the karaoke repertoire. This drive won't allow for a full run through of the song and there isn't time to sit in the car in the parking lot of the grocery store growling "j'ai ton amour, et je veux ton revenge/j'ai ton amour, I don't want to be friends" into a thumb microphone.

The co-op closes in a matter of minutes. Have the aisles always been this thin? A woman with one of those comical mini carts has stepped back to consider the bean selection and you need Vegetable Broth. You've already exchanged insincere apologies three times in produce. A customer is leaving here with cart-web bruising on her upper thigh. (Probably you. You bruise easily, you pussy).

The coffee grinder. What the hell. Is this thing breaking down every individual bean, molecule by molecule? These hippies. The guy who generates the coffee grinder's power by riding his bike in circles in the parking lot must be on a break. But chickpeas are on sale. And if you didn't have all this time standing aimlessly in front of the coffee grinder you'd have never saved a combined total of 13 cents or whatever. Coffee is done.

The woman in front of you in line has a story about everything she purchased. Nice. She seems unwilling to give up her premiere spot as the customer being served even after she has paid and her special time with the cashier had expired. Then it's you and it goes quickly, painlessly, except your friend is behind you in line. Someone you like running into and so you say: "Oh hey! Chuck and I were just laughing about your Facebook status about Judith Light!"

Still have to pee.

Get home with about 60 minutes. The closest thing to the pot you need has been stuck in the back of the refrigerator filled with Thai Chili since, well, chili season. By now it looks like the pot has struggled through a long winter of IBS. Take to it with first a spatula, then a sponge.

Vegetables must be chopped and some of them peeled, and then comes a new house law about how some vegetables are peel-optional and that is just the way it's going to be. Your boyfriend is still in bed, oddly enough at this hour, and this frantic pace, this ticking clock, this full bladder has you considering doing the unthinkable: Screeching "Chuuuuuuuuuccccckkkk!" up the steps while sticking a fork in sweet potatoes and scooping Curry Powder by the tablespoon-ful. That's what your mom would do, and this compulsion has never struck before and you hope it is not hereditary. The idea of loud voices within a house gives you hives. Anyway, it's a moot point because he comes downstairs a few seconds later.

Food is done 15 minutes before he leaves. It even tastes good (with salt). You are fucking Super Woman.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The limper ...

For this week's Weakly Review, I'm providing an excerpt from a blog post from five years ago today, taken without a lick of context:

i went to switch my loads and goatee followed me into the laundrymat.
"so, laundry day, huh?" he said. yanking khaki shorts and baggy t'shirts from the dryer.
"yup," i said.
"sorting is the part i hate the most," he said. almost as if he thought i'd asked "what part of laundry-doing do you hate the most?" which i hadn't.
"huh," i said. "me? i hate spending 20 dollars to clean 19 piles of boring clothes that all look exactly the same."
"oh. yeah. right. me? its the sorting," he said.
as he limped away, i wondered why it is always the guy with the creepy mustache and small pelvis who is the limper.

With that, here is what I made, watched and read this past week:

Curried Scrambled Tofu with Wilted Arugula: Here we have a tale of two taste buds. I liked this curry spin on fake scrambled eggs; Chuck ... not so much. Onions, garlic, Indian spices and crumbles of firm tofu with wilted arugula. I'd eat this all the time as something quick and easy. Trust me, not the photo.

Baked Falafel: This one comes from "Appetite for Reduction," where everything I make comes from lately. (Thanks, blog stranger, for posting the recipe). These are baked instead of fried and I made a little cucumber, garlic, dill, lemon juice mix to go with them and served it on arugula with cucumbers, olives, tomatoes and stuff. Damn fine food.

No-Cook Chocolate Torte: So this is the time that I made a dessert with avocado in it on the same night as S'Fire, who sent me the recipe. How fun is that?! I liked this. But I also kind of had avocado so stuck in my brain that I thought I could taste it. Once I got that out of my head it was good. A mousse top on a crust made of nuts and cocoa and coconut oil. Totally worth trying.

The Panic in Needle Park: Chuck piqued my interest on this one after he spent a night of test-driving movies by telling me the screenplay was by Joan Didion. This is the story of a young couple skulking around the underbelly of New York City in the 1970s. He's a functional junkie; She's a girl from the Midwest. He makes a living stealing, hanging out in the park and in seedy hotel rooms while she rides shotgun. Then she begins dabbling in his vices and things spiral. Totally good.

Atmospheric Disturbances: A Novel by Rivka Galchen: This book is tricky. It gets hard to follow the chain of associations Leo makes that link different facets of the Rema case, but it is well-worth hanging in there and wading through it. Any sort of plot disinterest I had was more than made up for by what Galchen is doing and how she is doing it. There are some really lovely parts, usually starring Rema. And there are some interesting ideas about the way the mind works.

Full review here.

Cecil and Jordan in New York: Stories by Gabrielle Bell by Gabrielle Bell: Gabrielle Bell is my favorite of favorite graphic novelists. Her brain lacks boundaries and you get the sense that she can get real weird with herself. The ordinary moments slant to wonky digressions. Then, like in the case of "I Feel Nothing," the sort of bizarre encounter between a morning drinker who owns a trendy bar and the normal friendly girl downstairs, everything just goes back to normal.

Full review will be here.

Twins: A Novel by Marcy Dermansky: What if instead of the smart and practical Elizabeth Wakefield girl reporter, there was a Chloe, a hardworking, soon-to-be popular teenager stunted by her enabling? And instead of that rowdy, boy-crazy Jessica Wakefield there was a Sue with the tendencies of a low-level sociopath, crippling co-dependency and a lack of self control?

And what if, when you were introduced to them, instead of giddy hopefulness about getting into the elite high school sorority, these twins were worried about the sterilization practices of a tattoo artist at the local strip mall?

This is where Marcy Dermansky has taken her pretty blonde protagonists in her wonderfully awful novel "Twins." It's like she took "Sweet Valley High," plopped it in New Jersey and all-but doused it in pig's blood.
Full review here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A few thoughts on capri pants ...

I forgot that today was the day of the neighborhood garage sale. When the flier was dropped in our mailbox two weeks ago I'd been stoked -- with a catch. I love the idea of selling 2002 fashions for 25 cents per garment. The semi-complete works of Stephenie Meyer and Tao Lin. But I knew I wouldn't participate. Sometimes I think I should just say fuck it and let the world into our home to finger items and make an offer. The next closest solution would be just dumping a box of old laptops and CDs and wires and microwaves in the front yard and letting the jackals have at it.

There were cars lining the street. Circus tents three doors down; Something very flea market-y up the block that was especially drawing a crowd. I drank coffee on the front porch with a book, watching every time a carload pulled up and invented a new curb-defying way to park. A couple walked down the street empty handed. They returned three minutes later each studying a set of new old drinking glass. Big day, eh suckers?

Eventually this amateur social scientist started to notice a trend: Every single rummage sale attendee was wearing cropped pants, usually denim, and open toed sandals. (Insert three paragraphs about how open-toed shoes totally gross me out, then casually mention that cropped pants are stupid. Soften this tirade by mentioning that the later it is at night, the more interested I become in infomercials about Pajama Jeans. Admit that I have not set of a precedent of being a valuable fashion resource. Advise people to carpe diem in whatever clothing makes them happy).


I went downtown to a Norwegian cafe for lunch and Lingonberry juice and to see what happens when I write in public. This was quite pleasant. I worked on a short story based on the time we lived across the street from a college party house and I overheard one of the boys telling his friend that he had been so drunk that he had gone into the wrong house the previous night and fallen asleep on the neighbor's couch. He was almost murdered by the groggy home owner.

Anyway, now we live in a neighborhood where people get garage sale-drunk and slip into a pair of cropped pants and open toed shoes seemingly just to make my bile bungee.


I stopped into a downtown store just in time to catch a thwarted shoplifting experience play out. Our former neighbor was just clocking out for the day. She's a little bit rock and roll, this girl. And she happened to be leaving the store at the same time as the thief, who had a pocket full of hot sunglasses.

"The register is up there," she said to the drunk woman pulling the heist.
"You were going to pay for those, right?"

The woman mumbled something and the former neighbor took back the shades and demanded that the woman empty her pockets. The woman swore she wasn't stealing. Then she got a little feisty.

"I can hear your pockets jangling," the former neighbor said. "Empty your pockets or we're calling the police."

Another store employee called 911 and the woman pulled a spin move on the downstairs neighbor and barreled out of the store. The former neighbor took the phone, described her outfit and where she was headed. When she brought the phone back inside, another man on a phone was on the sidewalk watching the shoplifter, describing her appearance and where she was headed.

This man turned out to be another shop owner on the block.

"She'd been prostituting in my store," he said.

I tried on some clothes, remembered I'm 35, left.


I got down to Canal Park just in time to intersect with two police cars slowly driving down a non-road near the lakewalk.

"Did you see a drunk guy passed out around here?" the first cop asked me through his window.

"Hm," I said. "I guess I saw someone lying down near the Porta Potties."


A woman on the lakewalk had a snake wrapped around her neck and I freaked the fuck out. She saw my face and held up a hand like "Don't worry, he's not going to kill me. He's my pet. My little friend. He's a good snake."

But that look didn't say "I'm not going to put my snake in your hair," so I busted on out of there, a single slither from having a panic attack.


I sat on a bench and read. Chuck and I bought some plants for the front yard. I made falafel for dinner. Now I'm waiting for the food processor to run through the dishwasher so I can make a no-bake chocolate torte that has avocado in it. I'm going to listen to The Hold Steady while it doesn't bake.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scrolling soundtracks ...

Here is what I made, ate, watched, listened to and read this past week without any commentary on anything that doesn't fit into those categories.

Eggplant-Zucchini Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream: So ... this was awesome. Eggplant, zucchini and potatoes roasted and browned a bit, then baked with a spicy garlic red sauce and this cream sauce made out of tofu and pine nuts. I'd make this again. And again. And again. Zing!

From my favorite cookbook writer Isa Chandra Moskowitz's book Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.