Q. Dear Pista: It is almost the end of November. How is your NaNoWriMo novel coming?
A. Thanks for (not) asking. I'm at around 46,000+ words. Nothing I couldn't finish in a single night with the right combination of demonic possession and finger exercises. Technically I just have to hit 50,000 to win the grand prize of TELLING EVERYONE I WON NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH! But, also technically, it is not a novel. It is, or rather will be, 50,000 words, a fraction of which will be used in December when I write my novel. Things sort of went wonky around 30,000 words and I decided to give up the ghost of writing something comprehendible and instead decided to develop ideas for later use. So.
Q. Hey, Pista: Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?
A. I did. Chuck and I drove to Eden Prairie. We dined with the cover girl from the 2011-2012 Winter Park and Recreation Guide. A little missy who will look at you like you're speaking 1950s if you use the phrase "phat air" regardless of if it is is totally in context.
Any-W. Here is what I've been making, reading and watching.
Pumpkin-Corn Enchiladas with Salsa Verde: Someday I'm going to tabulate the varieties of tacos, enchiladas and burritos that have passed through our kitchen. In this version, the filling is made of pumpkin with hot spices, onions and garlic. The whole mess is covered with salsa verde. And, unfortunately, I forgot to buy the Daiya to sprinkle on top and I really think that was going to seal the dish. Instead I whipped up the cheese sauce that I mix into our Tempeh Helper as an optional side. It tasted interesting and on the better side of okay. Unfortunately I was distracted by all it might have been -- and a little grossed out by a Quickfire on Top Chef that involved cooking rattlesnake, which was on while we were eating.
I'll probably make this again just because it is interesting.
Pumpkin Pie Cheese Cake: One thing I choose to be snobby about is who I pull recipes from and let me tell you Paula Deen falls somewhere beneath Colonial Sanders on my hierarchy. Still, this cheese cake. Let me tell you. Something really great happens when you mix a stick of butter with Graham Cracker Crumbs and it only gets better when you top it with three containers of cream cheese and enough other sour dairy to dehydrate the most viciously lactating animal in all the land.
"So I figure," I said to Chuck, "Three hunks of cream cheese, seven people ... we all get roughly a half a chunk of cream cheese for ourself."
Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna: Oh. This is super good. I'm not sure how this all worked out this way, but Zucchini plays the role of pasta, and a mix of quinoa, tomato sauce and fake cream cheese play the role of ricotta. Then fake mozzarella subs for real mozzarella. So, so good.
Limitless: This is one of those stupid movies where you watch Bradley Cooper masquerade as a starving writer with dirty fingernails and dreadlocks, and then he finds a drug that makes it possible for him to use almost his whole brain instead of just a fraction and he turns into a super whiz, money manager, bestseller writer who sees everything in over-saturated color, and you think of people you know who make good films, funny films and smart films and thoughtful films, and you want to just take a really, really long nap. And then take that brain pill.
Me and You and Everyone We Know: I remember the first time I realized that I didn't not like Miranda July, I loved Miranda July. It was during this movie about a quirky artist who makes multi-media pieces in her home by night and drives elderly people around by day. At the same time, a shoe salesman has gotten kicked out by his wife and so he moves into an apartment. The artist gives him the hard sell. His kids are up to curious forms of no good. An old man meets the love of his life.
Take Me Home Tonight: Totally not as dumb as I thought this movie set in the mid-1980s would be. It takes that 80s theme of "WHOA! WE HAD ONE CRAAAZZZY NIGHT" and mixes in an unattainable hottie girl and a recent MIT grad currently working in a video store and all sorts of nuts stuff goes down. I didn't like like it. I'm not going to, like, buy it on BlueRay. But it wasn't as terrible as terrible can be in these situations.
Rabbit Hole: I remember seeing a trailer for this in the theater and wondering, "Why the hell would someone want to watch a movie about a husband and wife mourning the death of their child?" And then I watched it and it was good. Nicole Kidman finds solace in making friends with the kid who ran over her son; Her husband takes solace in smoking weed with Christina from Grey's Anatomy. The best thing about it is the way details are parsed out so greedily. I probably just wrote four spoilers in this one paragraph.
Changeling: TiVo really wanted me to watch this kind of true story about a kid who is kidnapped in the 1920s and then the Los Angeles police "find him" and bring him home, but his mother knows it's not really him so the police have her committed. Starring Angelina Jolie's lips, which are totally invited to my celebrity dinner party. Though she can stay home.
Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey: Chuck keeps wondering what this show is actually about. It's a good question. But I love it. It's the story of a family living on an estate in Yorkshire and all that blah blah blah that goes with having an estate. It also follows the servants, a motley crew that includes some pretty evil suckers. I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH AND PBS HAS A COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE NEXT SEASON STARTS AND I CAN'T WAIT!
The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alinda Bronsky: When Rosalinda Achmetowna’s frumpy, stupid and ill-mannered daughter Sulfia gets knocked up, she can’t help but believe that it didn’t happen the traditional way. Who would sleep with Sulfia? No, it must be as Sulfia claims: Something that happened in a dream. Rosa sets out to fix it, using an arsenal of home abortion techniques and finally finds success the old fashioned way -- with a knitting needle.
Full review at Minnesota Reads, players.
It Chooses You by Miranda July: At first I didn’t like Miranda July. She seemed too precious. Her first book of short stories, contrived quirkiness. Like watching Zooey Deschanel shop for leg warmers at Goodwill. But I didn’t like Miranda July in that way that meant I’d be peeking out from behind the curtains to watch her walk down the street. I didn’t like her in a way I understood to mean that I didn’t like her right now, but that wasn’t necessarily my final verdict.
Then I loved Miranda July. It was her movie “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” which she wrote and starred in. It was different. Nice. A little uncomfortable. Mostly different, with clever characters whose motivations I didn’t understand, made better for the not understanding. There was minutia, and I’m really into minutia lately. It was funny, but not obviously funny. It was an hour and a half I didn’t regret at all. And now. And now.
Full review will be on Minnesota Reads.