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September 2017

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Sneak preview of new Tom Waits album. Provide your email address, get 8 tracks. Via MetaFilter.

Scent samples from Le Cherche Midi. You get a free shipping code for your first order. Via NOTCOT.

Anthony Bourdain:

This man can write. This man cannot write a recipe. I'm trying to make the stock from his recipe in the book, and he gives me proportions, okay, fine. But then he does not tell me when the chicken bones are done, he does not tell me how big a pot I need for this stock, and he doesn't tell me give me specifics about what sort of bones I need. This is not the first time he failed me. In another recipe he mentions that you need to put potatoes in this dish, but does not tell you how to cut them. Thinly slice, chunks, what?

And keep in mind this book that I'm using is supposed to be for people who don't know the first thing about cooking. Period. The only reason Mark and I can get away with guessing is because we actually know a thing about it, and are therefore shielded from amateur mistakes like burning the chicken bones because it does not say "roast for one hour". It just says roast until done. What the hell is that? 

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I am so sick of the iPhone. Yes, it'll change everything forever, with the nifty rotating browser! But how does it work, as a PHONE? Is the reception good? Do your calls get dropped?

I just finished reading this Wired article on Hans Reiser, the Linux programmer who's accused of murdering his wife. The whole thing is really strange. Three items I thought were odd, in a really bizarre article: The author describes the Oakland hills as "quiet and idyllic". Uh, quiet, maybe. Idyllic, no. He also mentions that Reiser first met his wife in Russia, where he had been several times previously using the Russian bride service. Okaaay. Three: Reiser has this obsession with manhood, and thought that teaching his son to play violent video games (which his wife objected to) would help prepare him to be "a man", because he otherwise wouldn't get that kind of education living in Oakland. (That is so funny I don't even know where to begin.)

Oh my god you know how I was bitching about our government and their stupid "English-is-the-official-national-language" thing? Apparently England has this thing where they offer free English classes to migrants, although they are considering limiting access. *sigh* And then I read that people are getting pissed off about having to "press 1 for English". Are you kidding me? Are you really that frickin lazy? And dumb?

We recently watched Sid and Nancy, which was a movie about Sid Vicious and his turbulent relationship with his groupie girlfriend. Neither of us know anything about the Sex Pistols, so we were both sort of befuddled when they cut to him not singing or actually playing any instruments while on stage. Maybe the movie itself is technically good, but I found it really hard to care about the title characters, because to me they both seemed like really unlikeable people who just screamed everything they thought. (And also mentally ill with no one to give them proper medication.) I thought Nancy seemed like a low-rent Courtney Love, and then I found out via Wikipedia that she did want to play the role, claiming that she "is Nancy Spungen". I mean, do you you really want to admit that you are a drug-addled groupie?

I'm almost done reading Extreme Cuisine: The Weird & Wonderful Foods That People Eat, by Jerry Hopkins. The foreword, of course, is written by Anthony Bourdain. There's some interesting stuff in here, but I doubt I will ever come up with the willpower to make myself eat ant salad, even if some varieties of ants "taste like honey".

I thought about the arguments that vegans make about how eating meat is immoral. I am not going to make any moral judgments about that, but I'm wondering about how vegans would suggest managing overpopulation of certain species? For example, crocodile and alligator meat were once banned, but once they started regaining their population, they had to be managed, and crocodile farms were born - for leather, meat, etc.

Hopkins makes a lot of arguments for adding other species to our diet as a "protein source", but I'm wondering why we even need to add another protein source. From all I've heard and read, most Americans consume too much protein anyway.

Amusing to me is the fact that the most befuddling items of consumption were started by the Chinese. Who the hell thinks up shit like bird's nest and thousand-year eggs (not actually a thousand years old)? Apparently, we do. (But I'm still American enough that I always turn that shit down.)
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Don't people read anymore? I like Anthony Bourdain, but the first sentence of his narration on the L.A. No Reservations episode put me off completely for the rest of it. He said that "Dorothy Parker said of L.A. that there's no there there" which, as far as I can tell, has not been corrected anywhere. Gertrude Stein said it, and she said it about Oakland, and it's the only thing anyone ever quotes about Oakland, which always annoys me.

I think he should totally do a show about Oakland. We've got good food here! It will end up with my dad cooking dinner.

So Mark and I bought some live lobsters to cook over the weekend. Mark decided to not do the "boil alive" technique, but to use the "butcher knife between the eyes" technique. I now know why people freak out over killing lobsters. Lobsters keep moving after they die, and one of them was foaming up at the mouth afterwards. It was pretty gross.  Next time we'll just toss them in the pot or something.
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I've been reading rumors that the Bourdain in Beirut episode will be re-airing tonight on TLC (not the Travel Channel), right after Miami Ink, at 10PM. He also appears in the Miami Ink episode.

I am not sure because everyone keeps writing "will air Wednesday the 29th", and the 29th was YESTERDAY.
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As many as 14 people were injured this afternoon by a motorist who drove around San Francisco deliberately running them down before being arrested by police, who believe the same driver struck and killed a man earlier today in Fremont. No one knows why he did it.

I didn't hear anything about this during the day. But that's because I was in my work bubble and didn't even take my legally mandated 15 minute breaks.

I've been leaving my Gmail open, which is sometimes good in times of boredom, and bad when I'm really trying to work and a friend's got some good gossip or is freaking out over something.

This weekend Mark's going down to LA, which will leave me free to take over the TiVo. (Only the really exciting thing is, I get his PARKING SPOT! Usually, it's pretty easy grabbing a spot in front of his place, but if I get there later at night, I am reduced to tears and parallel parking. The way I do it isn't pretty.)

It's kind of funny - I've finally come to the realization that movies and television are to him what books are to me. Totally necessary to our own survival. Mostly it's about how we like to experience stories - I get too distracted by people with bad accents, I note every grammar error, and well, I didn't grow up in LA.

In the past month, we watched:

Little Miss Sunshine - Funniest movie of the year. It's so damn cute. It's really well-written, and it's about normal, everyday people working to achieve their dreams, and just not fitting in with the world that is already there. And the last half hour had me rolling.

Fun With Dick and Jane - This was a rental, from the only friends of ours who do not do Netflix. Mark and I keep meaning to get around to it, but then we never do and we just rent from the local video store. One thing I've never figured out about that store - why do they keep a tip jar? And why do people put money in it?

30 Days - The New Age episode: I liked the guy, who seemed be to kind of set in his ways, but open to listening to other people. I hated his girlfriend, Misty, whose 180 degree change of opinion after going on and on about how tarot cards are black magic, happened really fast and made me not take her seriously at all. I liked how they did a lot of different types of New Age stuff, not all of which was hokey. And it helped him relax, so that was cool.

The Abortion episode. A pro-choice feminist goes to live with some pro-life people. This was an excellent episode, in which no one learned anything new, except maybe the pastor's wife, who learned that pro-choice people don't "sell abortions". I wish this one was actually longer. The pro-choice person they picked was very clear and smart - and didn't become intimidated or fumble around for words the way the atheist did. It was sort of weird that we didn't see more conversations between her and the pastor, though. She (damn, I keep blanking out on the names) seemed much more into getting to know the women and the kids living at the home, which, is probably something I would do, too.

Next episode: Morgan Spurlock goes to jail for 30 days. He's gone on record as saying that it's really changed his perspective on prison, so I'm betting it'll be a good finale.

Bourdain in Beirut - actually I didn't see this episode, because the Travel Channel changed the name and we didn't see the commercial for it until after it aired. Twice. I'm so angry I missed this episode - from what I've heard, it's a really good episode - not so much about the politics, but about what the consequences of those violent actions do to people who are just trying to live.

Feasting on Asphalt - Alton Brown gets on his motorcycle with a crew of guys and rides across the country, sampling all the best road food. I normally don't watch Good Eats, so I've decided I'm with my sister. Alton Brown talks too much. Yes, that is his job, but still. Anyway, so far it seems like Alton is a very meat-and-potatoes type of guy, and that he's not actually all that adventurous about trying food that's sort of out there. You know Anthony Bourdain would have been happily chowing down on the brain burger and declaring it the best thing ever.

The Daily Show - I'm only noting this one to say, they hired non-white people! Whoa! I love me some Daily Show, but stewards of diversity they are not. Larry and Aasif seem okay, but I think we'll probably need some more episodes before they totally grow on the audience. I think part of the problem is the writing - it feels like they are doing white guy comedy, and not stuff they would actually have written themselves. We'll see.

I am very, very hungry.
toastykitten: (Default)
Bourdain in Beirut

Anthony Bourdain: For the whole time I was there I was often in the bizarre and somehow shameful position of watching a country dismantled before my eyes from a relatively comfortable distance.

Seattle, Wash.: Were you aware of all of the U.S. State Department warnings against travel to Lebanon before you went?

Anthony Bourdain: Yes. But they say that about Oakland too, don't they?

Emphasis mine. Hee!
toastykitten: (Default)
Anthony Bourdain is in Beirut right now - there probably won't be a show.

It is indeed heartbreaking and horrifying what has happened to this lovely country — to spanking new, lovingly restored,resurgent Beirut in particular, in only a few days of sustained and seemingly senseless destruction. A few days ago, this was a place where people were bursting with pride for the relative tolerance, progressive attitudes, and lack of conflict between groups. I was standing with a group: a Sunni, a Christian, and a Shiite — by the Hariri memorial when the gunfire started and the Hezbollah people appeared driving through city center and honking their horns in “celebration” for the capture/kidnappings. The look of dismay and embarrasment on all three faces… and the grim look of resignation as they all– instantly– recognized what would inevitably come next… it’s something I will never forget.
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Got my new cell phone last week. It looks so cheap, but then again it was free. I haven't even added everyone yet; I gave up by the time I got to J. I love my plan though - nights start at 7PM! AWESOME.

Yesterday Mark decided to roast a duck. We used a recipe from the Anthony Bourdain Les Halles cookbook, so yes, it was a French recipe, and it took him nearly half a day to do it. It was delicious - of course, it didn't taste anything like Chinese roast duck, but the sauce was very sweet, and the meat came out pretty tender, and the skin - YUM. I took some pictures - maybe I'll post them up later. We froze the leftover duck fat, and maybe we'll cook it in something else - duck confit, anyone?

I also went to the San Carlos Library annual book sale. I took advantage of their $5 bag sale and got myself a ton of books - some Terry Brooks, Al Franken, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Alice Walker, Connie Willis, Samuel Delany, etc, etc. I also got the Hillary Clinton autobiography, and today someone left out the Bill Clinton autobiography. The Bill Clinton autobiography is 957 pages long. I have no idea when I'll get to them.

Right now I'm in the middle of re-reading Octavia Butler's series Lilith's Brood. It always sucks me in - whenever I read it on the train I only know that I'm in San Francisco because the train stops completely.

In other news, Mark's sister had dinner with my family for the first time, and she took everything in stride, much better than either of us predicted. My relatives all thought she was very pretty, and kept telling her that she was "beautiful". She played with Kaitlin, sat next to my mom at the dinner table and listened to her burp really long and loudly; I showed her the chicken feet soup (which I don't really like, but she'd never seen chicken feet before).

Today a bunch of restaurants were closed for Day Without Immigrants. Most of them had signs up, and there was a pretty large demonstration downtown. On the way home, I saw a bunch of them with their signs sitting next to the train station, with tired looks on their faces. I wish I could have gone, but I'm backlogged, and taking on the resigned person's tasks, and some of that stuff goes back pretty far. It's pretty empty in our department, since there's only one other person who's actually there full-time.
Aug. 30th, 2005 11:07 pm


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I am trying to pry myself away from the news stories about New Orleans. How depressing to think that everything we saw only a month ago is now under water, and how fucked up it is that the only plan New Orleans had was to "get in your cars and leave" when 100,000 residents don't have cars. Ugh.

I finished two books this week - Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. You wouldn't think these books had anything in common, but they do. Both are memoirs of obsessive passions.

I've been slightly obsessed with Bourdain and his travel shows. He does everything I want to do - travel, write, eat, cook for a living. His writing style is engaging, show-offish, and compassionate. I like his rough humor, his obsession with gangster and samurai movies, and he finally got me to understand why some people are willing to pay a month's rent for a meal cooked by Thomas Keller. It also made me understand the chefs are like engineers - they are food geeks, with the same single-mindedness, the same passion, and the same inability to deal with normal people except with anal sex jokes.

Reading Lolita in Tehran is heartbreaking, not least for the oppressive atmosphere, but also because all the talk about revolution reminds me of the Cultural Revolution in China. It's so depressing. The Chinese also prosecuted their teachers for "insubordination", for "corrupting the youth", and also got the revolution they asked for, without realizing exactly what "revolution" entailed.

I had this all eloquently written in my head, but it's late, and I really need to sleep. I guess what these books reinforced for me was the value of the imagination, and my frustration that most people seem to waste it here.

All right, sleep.
toastykitten: (Default)
The Korean Jersey girl on Anthony Bordain's No Reservations was awesome. That is all.
toastykitten: (Default)
But packing is no fun.


Xanga - For Chrissakes, people, stop it with the media. I like looking at pictures, but do not make the site start playing a song without a warning. Any song. Kill, kill, kill.

McAfee - First of all, I paid for your friggin product already. Second of all, your pricing is deliberately misleading, because I had to read the fine print in order to find out that my $25 rebate is contingent on me keeping the box, which I don't have because it was bought over a year ago. And third and worst of all, you made me use Internet Explorer to update the goddamn product. Ew, gross. Next time I'm buying Norton.

Traffic. When does traffic not irritate me? I reiterate, driving in San Francisco is like being stuck in a live-version of Grand Theft Auto with no gun. Driving in the rest of California is playing a game of "Who's gonna be the bigger asshole?"

The Observer book reviews suck.

A Cook's Tour, by Anthony Bourdain - finished maybe 2 weeks ago? I think I'm in a reading rut. I have plenty of unread books on my shelves, but I don't want to read them. Anyway, this book is awesome. Bourdain, a "rebel" hotshot chef in NYC, who also wrote Kitchen Confidential (behind-the-scenes look at four and five-star restaurant life), travels all over the world in search of the perfect meal. If that sounds like a gimmick, that's because it is. How else are you going to convince somebody else to pay for your trips around the world? A Cook's Tour is also a TV show for Food Network, which Bourdain is kinda ambivalent about.

Highlights of the TV show - Bourdain being forced to try the weird Asian foods, including, but not limited to durian, bird's nest soup, and balut. He should be happy he wasn't forced to try the stinky tofu. I think that stinks more than durian does, which he ended up liking a lot, describing it as similar to eating stinky cheese.

Highlights of the book - Bourdain eviscerating Berkeley vegans, beginning a rant with "And not one of them knew how to cook a fucking vegetable." His bitching about not being able to smoke in San Francisco restaurants is classic. I don't have much sympathy for him, though, because I hate cigarette smoke. Bourdain going to the Sahara and going crazy because he wants to eat a lamb but no one has any. So then he buys one himself. Bourdain snarking on other Food Network personalities, and an obvious hatred of anything having to do with Emeril and Bobby Flay.

I find Bourdain's melodramatic tone really funny, because he obviously watches way too many gangster movies. There's a lot of places where he's like, "And this reminds me of the scene in Goodfellas..." and then follows it up with, "Oh my God, we're going to die."

Now I am waiting for someone to lend me Kitchen Confidential.
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