Monday, February 28, 2011

Best It Was a Fine Read

Last week I finished reading this book called Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem.  I don't have much Lethem experience, I read maybe two pages from The Fortress of Solitude and maybe two essays from the Disappointment Artist (my disappointment?  That he could make seeing Star Wars 21 times the summer it came out sound as uninteresting as he did) but this book, which I stumbled upon on a visit to the library, treated me right.  It had just the sorts of things I need to keep reading a 460 page book: odd yet likable main characters with weird names (for example, the main character is one Chase Insteadman, former child sitcom star living off his residuals.  He's got an astronaut girlfriend named Janice Trumbull stuck on the international space station) moving through a series of events and scenarios that basically resemble a plot (the main story of this story: Chase's friendship with one Perkus Tooth, former rock critic who now makes a living writing liner notes for Criterion Collection DVDs) set in a familiar location (New York City) where unfamiliar events are taking place (the year is never clear, but I'm saying it takes place in 2004.  Seems there never was a 9/11, but lower Manhattan is enveloped in a strange fog.  An escaped giant tiger wrecks havoc on the city, a ghostwriter wrecks havoc on Chase's life).  All in all, a enjoyable and satisfying read.  It made me miss other rambling books I've read before full of characters with odd names where anything at all may or may not happen, but the overall reading experience is a fine one.  That's why Infinite Jest is sitting on my night stand again.

Here's My Real Evaluation: How much did I like this book?  Not enough to tear right through it, but enough to renew it twice before having to return it (because someone had placed a hold on my copy).  And then I checked out another copy the next day to finish it, which even though I only had 70 pages left at that point still took me more than a weekend.  So let's say it's a grower that never quite takes over.

Also.  Something else to say about this book: Almost all the the story takes place on the Upper East Side.  I am thankful to Lethem for having made my least favorite neighborhood interesting to me and for causing me to smile in recognition whenever he referenced UES landmarks familiar to me.  It's a good book that makes you think fondly of your most unloved part of town.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Best Perhaps I Am Shooting at Fish in a Barrel

UPDATE: Questions have been raised about the tights and leggings on display at Yfashiondaily.  May I refer you to this "interesting" post where they address the issue themselves. Link.

But shoot I must!

In the past month a BYU street-fashion tumblr has appeared on the internet.  Actually, there are two: Yfashion and Yfashiondaily.  Both seem to be run by the BYUSA, with Yfashion seeming to be more dress and grooming standards oriented.

That there is a BYU street-fashion tumblr is fine with me, that's not something to make fun of.  What the people are wearing at BYU, that's not something to make fun of either—and these two blogs seem to actually do a sort of decent job of representing what Cougars of all sorts are wearing.  That's fine with me, I'm not going to make fun of what your little sister or brother wore today.  I don't care.

What I do think is worth criticism is how lousy these websites, particularly Yfashiondaily, are.  In their mission, I suppose it does all right.  In the execution of its mission, it struggles.  In areas in particular.

First, consider the photography.  Could be the sign of timid photographers, but these people are posing.  They know they're being documented.  GET CLOSER, photographer!  Let's see the people, not the JKHB.

(well, not everyone seems to be posing.  And then the cameraperson just seems like a jerk.  I only post this for illustrative purposes!)

In some cases there is a distant shot and then a close up shot . . .

BUT it looks like the same photo!  Just cropped and brightened!  What?!

(actually, in returning to Yfashiondaily to prepare this post I've found the photography improved, more or less.  So congratulations on that.  But Problem #2 is still in full effect.)

Problem #2: The captions!  On occasion Yfashiondaily will tell you what their Cougar on Campus is wearing . . .

You see that?  Let me caption the caption: "red scarf, grey blazer, light maroon shirt, cuffed jeans, tan lace-up boots, red patterned gloves).  It's just telling you what she's wearing!  It's like Yfashiondaily is a website for the blind.

And it does it again,

and again,

and again,

And when descriptions get more particular, it's usually about the obvious . . .

Oh, that's a BYU sweatshirt.  Thought it looked familiar.

ohhh, that's a Daft Punk t-shirt.  And they're a band?

And then, sometimes, no caption at all!  What color is this guy's sweater?  Please!  Can someone tell me?!

Okay, that's what I've got re:Yfashiondaily.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Best Argument Yet

Well I certainly never thought of it this way.

I think I'll go eat one of those terrible, horrible, awful plants now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Best Victory (plus three supplemental victories)

After last week's featured kitchen failures, I have a success story to boast of.  But this success did not come easy!  It was snatched right out of the jaws of defeat, over and over again.  Read my tale, I'll try to make it short . . .

In November I ate at my sister's house, I ate her Chicken Tikka Masala that she makes.  I nearly ate the entirely platter.  I wish I had.  I wish I hadn't left any for anyone else.  It was beguilingly delicious.  This weekend I finally looked up the recipe on her recipe blog and made it myself.  I was very happy with the results, but I almost messed it all up a few times.

First, I put my chicken in the mixing bowl and then tossed all the marinade ingredients on top of it.  Noticed later that the recipe said to combine ingredients and add the chicken.  This mistake did not seem to cause any major problems.  And yes, if you look closely you'll see my ginger isn't exactly minced.

The recipe calls for the skewering and grilling of chicken.  I have no skewers, I have no grill, so I put all the chicken into a big frying pan along with probably too much of the marinade.  Eh, everything seemed fine but this might be why the flavor I most remember from my dinner is cinnamon.  I basically almost made cinnamon toast chicken that night.

Meanwhile, the sauce part of the recipe calls for one jalepeƱo all chopped up.  So I respected that.  But next time I'm definitely chopping up to jalepeƱos.  I need it spicier.

Now here comes my near total failure: When it was time to add heavy cream to the sauce I discovered that 1) I had 1/2 as much heavy cream as I needed and 2) my heavy cream was not heavy cream at all but some sort of heavy non-dairy heavy cream.  Oh no!  For a second I thought I'd have to throw the whole thing out (preferable at that point to running to the store for the right creamers) but I found some real heavy cream in the fridge to add to the pan.  A refrigerator miracle!

I assume the sauce's incredibly oiliness right here is from the non-dairy cream breaking down into its "real" components.  I skimmed a lot of this oil off, a LOT, and was eventually able to reduce the sauce down to the right sort of creamy.

And here's the final product, doesn't it look like it wasn't any trouble at all?  I wound up eating about three times this much that night.

An additional error previously unmentioned: I'm sure I put in too much lemon juice and I definitely put in too many lemon seeds.  Do not bite down on a cooked lemon seed!  They are so bitter!

Again, here's a link to the recipe.  If your cupboard has already got a lot of spices in it you'll barely need to buy anything at the store at all.

Supplemental Additional Victories Worth Mentioning:

This pizza tasted a lot better than it looks, particularly the sausage and pepperoni half. 

Peanut Butter Snickers par avion, the perfect breakfast.

And this isn't food, but grandest victory this week was being on an unstoppable, indomitable Pictionary team.  Did we sometimes guess the picture before anyone had even begun drawing?  Perhaps.  Did we correctly identify punctuation marks when drawing symbols was against the rules? Perhaps.  Did I surprise even myself with my artistic rendering of "echo"?  Also perhaps.

(And with all these "perhaps"s I'm just being falsely modest, if you couldn't tell)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Best Work for Hire

I wrote an A to Z of what I like about New York for Sariah's Yell Softly internet concern.
If you like lists and you like New York, then this just might be the link for you!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Best Saturday Afternoon Museum Trip

Note: If you can't get all these beautiful images to load, maybe try another browser?  I don't see them all in Chrome but they show up in Firefox.  Weird.

Saturday (after having my bo ssam) I went out to the new Museum of the Moving Image museum in Queens to see the exhibits and watch the Academy Award-nominated documentary, Wasteland.

I arrived simultaneously with Vanessa, Ingrid, and Beth so there's a lot of Vanessa, Ingrid, and Beth pictures coming your way.

Everyone was making fun of Ingrid for always making model face in her pictures.  See if you disagree with them by the end of the post.

"Hey, Brother."

Oh no, Chewie!

Oh no, Al!

Oh no, Marlon!

Oh no, whoever you are.

The Museum of the Moving Image was like a really classy Planet Hollywood without chicken fingers.

Now here's some behind the scenes stuff I'm really into.

Crockett and Tubbs.

Mork in front, Mrs. Doubtfire in the rear.

Annie with Cliff in the background.

One Star Wars product I'd certainly never seen before.

And some I definitely had.

Also in the Moving Image collection: video games.

Miniature theater you could not go into.

Odd little theater you could go into.

Top floor: some video art.

Those shadows are projected onto that sculpture.

Getting real clever with the stop-motion movie-making machine.

Then we went into museum's theater to watch Wasteland.  It was very good and it was about Brazil and it was about art.  This is the curtain over the movie screen.

When the movie ended it was past closing time so they threw us right out of the museum.

Chateau was like "Hey man, can I see your camera?" and I was like "Sure!"  So all the rest of these fine photos are the work of our man Chateau.

It took him but a minute to figure out focusing.

And then he was on track for victory.  For domination.

Me.  At last.

Amanda from California.

Uhhhhhh. . .

And that was the trip to the museum. Even though it's in Queens, I can definitely recommend a visit to the Museum of the Moving Image. It is very designy and interesting inside.