May 31, 2004

How early the fruit is falling this season! —Groucho Marx as Otis B. Driftwood in A Night at the Opera

I have been granted a reprieve.  In preparation for the rapidly-approaching Egg Board fellowship, I had thought that I would need to have the outline for the whole book completed, and I’d have to have all of my notes from all of my existing source material ready to go.  This led to a serious case of brain constipation, night after night and weekend after weekend of flipping through books, trying to write everything down on notecards, only to roll into bed sometime after midnight, panicky, grumpy and sweating—not a good combination by any means.  Then I received a piece of correspondence from the Colony asking me how many boxes I would be shipping to my room.  Woo-hoo!  Pressure is off!  U.S.A!  U.S.A!  I can ship my books to Arkansas!  And ship them home before I leave!  I don’t have to have my research all buttoned up!  I can, wonder of wonders, do some research *and* some writing!  Glory be!

“Won’t that cost a lot of money?” says my practical friend Vee, who, bless her heart, tries her damnedest to save me money, from her entreaties for me to shop at Syms (which I do) to her entreaties that I read The Millionaire Next Door (which I haven’t yet).  No, Vee, it won’t be cheap, but it will be an investment in my peace of mind, and as anyone unfortunate enough to have known me for a long time can tell you, my peace of mind never comes cheaply.  It is my blessing, my curse and my secret shame, all wrapped up in lemon leaves and tied with raffia—no, wait, that would be pasolini.  Not Pier Paolo Pasolini, the lunatic Italian film director, but pasolini, the snack sold along (I think) the Amalfi coast, little packets of raisins, baked slowly in honey and marsala and made lemony by those lemon-leaf wrappings, just made to be drunk with black coffee so strong it makes your fingernails grow.  I haven’t had any luck finding a recipe link (although something tells me that Courtney would), but I do have a recipe from Sophie Grigson for raisins baked with Marsala, honey and lemon juice that approximates them.  Had I not spent the afternoon making the rhubarb slump posted here by the lovely Snowball, I would be making a batch of these right now.

Dear friends, there is a point to all this foofaraw.  Since I now have the luxury of doing research at the Colony, I decided that I earned a free pass from research this weekend.  Thus it was that Lloyd and I kicked off the Memorial Day Weekend Multimedia ExpoFestO’Rama, broken up only by my attendance at a barbecue at a dive bar in Flushing on Saturday night; two episodes of retail therapy at Kitchen Arts and Letters on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning; and our much-procrastinated purchase of the new air conditioner, which mainly served to remind us once again that we have too damn much stuff in too small a space and we have to move.  Really.  No bs this time.

Our weekend film festival included A Night at the Opera, one of my top three favorite movies; Bubba Ho-Tep, starring my boyfriend Bruce Campbell as Elvis Presley and Ossie Davis as JFK, and featuring a mummy/succubus who steals souls from the elderly in a very rude way indeed; Down With Love, which I liked better than pretty much everyone else on the planet did, but I would have liked it much more if Ewan had been naked; some Robert Benchley shorts that came with the Marx Bros. box set; a few hours’ worth of Tex Avery MGM cartoons and a few more hours’ worth of Warner Bros. cartoons, including one of my favorites, The Hep Cat.  This was the first color Looney Tune, directed by Robert Clampett, who would have been my boyfriend if I had been born 50 years earlier.  In case you had any doubt as to whether the Warners animators were dirty-minded horndogs, this cartoon will pretty much lay it to rest.  It is your basic chase toon: cat tries to cross vacant lot to get to the alley where he makes time with girl kitties; dog, who patrols vacant lot, chases and tries to catch cat so that he can moiderize him; little bird with thick Noo Yawk accent acts as Greek chorus.  What elevates it to a whole far greater than the sum of its parts is the sheer manic horniness of the cat.  When the dog tries to trick the cat by wooing it with a long-lashed, bowlipped, concupiscent kitty hand puppet, the cat’s body stiffens in a way that suggests nothing so much as a full-body erection.  As the cat takes the kitty puppet into his arms, he runs his paws down her back, where he encounters the dog’s very round, very bulbous nose.  He strokes the nose twice, three times, then looks into the camera and exclaims a la Jerry Colonna, “Well!  Something new has been added!” Eventually the cat gets wise, he escapes from the dog, the dog falls off a clothesline and into a baby carriage, the cat retrieves the now-empty kitty puppet and resumes wooing her.  “Gee, mister,” says the little bird, “that’s not a real goil.” “Well,” says the cat, again in Jerry Colonna voice, “I can dream, can’t I?” That Robert Clampett was a dirty man, a dirty, dirty man.  Ohhhhhhh, mercy.

Speaking of dirty, I honestly had no idea, when dropping Lucille Bogan’s name in the dirty blues meme, that Columbia Legacy had just released a new remastered collection of Bogan’s finest moments.  Imagine my surprise to open yesterday’s New York Times and see Jon Pareles’ capsule review of the collection.  Imagine my further surprise to discover that the All Music Guide biography of Bogan was written by the brilliant avant-garde guitarist Eugene Chadbourne.  Is a copy of this album on its way to me, via the good people of  Need you even ask?

Speaking even further of dirty, the raunchy lyric meme lives on!  Snowball has contributed to the discussion with some boss lyrics by way of Nina Simone.  My, it’s getting warm in here…

Posted by Bakerina at 10:47 PM in stuff and nonsense • (0) Comments
May 30, 2004

Dear friends,

While I adjust to the novel thrill of writing in our freshly air-conditioned hovel, to say nothing of showering praise and kisses on Lloyd for getting the damn a/c up the stairs, through impassable passageways and into the window, please indulge me in a bit of gloating over the creation of my own little baby meme.  Apparently I’m not the only one with a dirty mind and a song to light it up.  Goliard at popcultureatemybrain and David at noise to signal, they have something to say.  I *love* it when that happens.

Posted by Bakerina at 10:12 PM in • (2) Comments • (1) Trackbacks
May 28, 2004

Now this is how you start a summer.  My lovely pal ‘mouse just received his new copy of the great old dirty blues compilation Raunchy Business:  Hot Nuts and Lollypops, an old favorite of mine I hadn’t heard in years.  In fact, it’s been so long since I’ve heard it that I’d forgotten all about Lil Johnson’s My Stove’s in Good Condition, a song that, for some mysterious reason on which I can’t quite put my finger, I find incredibly cheering.  Fortunately, ‘mouse knew that my memory could use a jog and my strut could use a cut.

I’ve got a range in my kitchen, sho’ bakes nice and brown
I’ve got a range in my kitchen, sho’ bakes nice and brown
All I need is some good daddy, who turns my damper down

And my stove is automatic, you don’t have to burn wood or coal
And my stove is automatic, you don’t have to burn wood or coal
I got strike your match baby, and stick right in the hole

And it’s yas yas baby, my stove is all cleaned out
And it’s yas yas baby, my stove is all cleaned out
I always keep it in good condition, you know what I’m talkin’ about

Mmmmm… my pot is boiling low
Mmmmm… my pot is boiling low
If you can’t keep it percolatin’, Baby I swear you’ll have to go

I don’t want no charcoal, if you can’t bake my biscuits brown
I don’t want no charcoal, if you can’t bake my biscuits brown
When my wood gets too hot, I swear you’ll have to turn my damper down.

(Lest you think that this is unnecessarily smutty, let me assure you that this has nothin’ on Lucille Bogan’s “Shave ‘Em Dry #2.")

The weekend, let it commence.

Posted by Bakerina at 04:12 PM in • (1) Comments • (4) Trackbacks
May 26, 2004

Brickhenge? Litterhenge? United Cairnworkers of Astoria?photo_034.jpg

Posted by Bakerina at 11:58 AM in • (1) Comments

Dear friends,

In exactly three weeks from this moment, I will be sitting on the porch of my suite at the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow Farm, slathered from forehead to heels in bug repellent, watching the sun set behind the Ozarks, contemplating the paper I will be researching and writing over the next four weeks.  It is three weeks away, and yet it seems as far off as it did on that frigid January night when I opened up my e-mail and read “Congratulations!  You are our 2004 fellow!”, as remote as Neptune, particularly when I am at LuthorCorp, talking to people all day long, saying absolutely nothing worth hearing.

These are odd days at LuthorCorp, a mix of weird, sad and uncertain.  The company has hired a consultant.  She is a friendly and pleasant woman, but I don’t really understand exactly why she is consulting for us, what the company is looking for, from her or from us, and thus her presence makes me the slightest bit edgy.  Given the choice between edgy and sad, I’ll go with edgy, but unfortunately, we were not given the choice.  One of the three salespeople I report to lost her brother over the weekend, an apparent heart attack at the age of 37.  This morning I learned that one of our estimators died yesterday after a long illness; this afternoon I learned that our QA manager contracted a weird blood disease that almost killed him, and even though he is recovering, he is still far from better.  Not quite as dire, but still sad to me, is this coming Friday’s departure of one of my favorite sales guys, a guy who has been with Funky Little Company for 10 years and in the industry for 17.  He is a standup man, smart and funny, a lover of good food and an encyclopedia of music trivia, and when he leaves, yet another piece of the heart and soul of Funky Little Company will be gone, a vacuum that LuthorCorp will rush to fill, but will be unable to fill properly.  My office buddy Mich and I have been exchanging haunted looks and murmuring about how this is it, the time is coming, the time is now, Marvin K. Mooney, can we please go now?  Today we made a pact that by this time next year, we need to be working somewhere else.

Fortunately, at the very moment I really needed some good news, I got it.  My excellent pal Goliard, creator of the much-missed silly girl, is blogging again at popcultureatemybrain.  Do stop by and say hello to her.  Do not miss the picture of her neighborhood gator.  I also learned this week that one of my favorite baking books, The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion is the recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s 2004 Cookbook of the Year award.  Check out the lovely picture of my dear friend and mentor, PJ Hamel, at the Beard Awards.  On Sunday night, I was lucky enough to be invited to a stoop picnic on the Upper East Side, hosted by the kind and splendid Bunni and her neighbors, who offered me a place at a very welcoming table indeed, and fed me like a champ.  And tomorrow I am having lunch with two friends from an e-mail group I belong to, friends who are in town for a conference, including one who is on her first trip to New York.  It is at moments like this that I can look squarely at that lingering existential viral cloud and stare it down until it either slinks away sheepishly or shatters into a thousand fragments.

Dear friends, in exactly three weeks from this moment, I will be as alone as I’ve ever been in my entire life.

Posted by Bakerina at 12:09 AM in stuff and nonsense • (1) Comments
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