February 28, 2005

Edit:  The answers, in their entirety, are up!  Thanks to everyone for playing.

Because a little levity and frivolity and game-playing are in order; because I punked out on the Oscars this year; and because it has been so much fun to watch this game being played over at bunni's, I have decided to play the Movie Meme. The rules, as our Miss Lapin says, are simple: Below are quotes from 12 movies. Please feel free to guess as many guesses as you have to guess. As the correct answers arrive, I will post them, along with a little annotation explaining why I picked that particular movie, as well as any useless trivia I can seize at that moment. With any luck, we'll have something fun to read here; you might find some movies you want to add to your Netflix queue; and you'll get a little window into my soul. (I can hear all y'all now: "So *that's* where that vast empty vacuumy sound is coming from...honey, do we have any weather-stripping left?"wink

An advisory: The lines that follow include some f-bombs and adult situations. I know that not everyone is a fan of the f-bomb; if you are not a fan, you may want to sit this meme out.

1. "Do I laugh now, or wait till it gets funny?"

From the same film:

"I picked you for the job, not because I think you're so damn smart, but because I thought you were a shade less dumb than the rest of the outfit. Guess I was wrong. You're not smarter, Walter. You're just a little taller."

Michele has guessed correctly!  Both of these quotes are from Double Indemnity, my very favorite Billy Wilder film.  The dialogue in this movie is so good that it makes me wriggle with pleasure.  Fred MacMurray plays an insurance salesman who falls in love with a client's wife and hatches a plan with her to kill her husband and collect the insurance money.  Barbara Stanwyck is the wife, and she smokes; Edward G. Robinson is MacMurray's boss, and he is funny and intense; but the real revelation here is MacMurray.  If you are only familiar with him as the father on My Three Sons, you will be stunned at how dark and amoral and fascinating he is here.

2. "Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?"

Per the lovely Snowball, this line comes from The Thin Man, another corker of a movie for snappy dialogue.  This movie is actually a tricky one to quote, as much of the brilliance shows in the dialogue, i.e. "It says you were shot five times in the tabloids."  "That's not true.  They never got near my tabloids," or in the lines that are set up as punchlines for visual jokes, such as when William Powell starts to drink a scotch as a detective goes through his wife's armoire, looking for evidence in a shooting, and his wife (the goddess that is Myrna Loy) wakes up and cries, "Nicky, what's that man doing in my drawers?" and Powell does a spit take.  I could watch Powell and Loy for weeks, with only occasional breaks to brush my teeth and take in some fluids.

3. "Hey, Ted, where's that corkscrew? You know, that fancy corkscrew for the wine bottle? Ted. Ted? Ted! Hey, Ted, where the hell is that corkscrew?"

No, it's not from Bill and Ted.  No, it's not from some screwball comedy -- or at least not an intentional screwball comedy.  It's from Friday the 13th:  A New Beginning, also known as Ft13 Part IV.  Normally I don't have much truck with the hamhanded killdozer tactics of Jason Voorhees, but this one is special to me.  Long before he elevated his own brand of sheer weirdness to an art form, Crispin Glover was a fresh-faced, nice young man/struggling actor, and it is he who delivers this line.  Considering the way of the Ft13 movie, and considering that Crispin's character has just finished having sex with his new girlfriend, do you really need me to tell you where the corkscrew is?

4. "Not so fast. We're going to play a little game. It's called: Guess who just called the cops and reported your sorry motherfucking ass!"

My fellow Matthew Lillard fan kas called this one.  This is the way that Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) turns the tables on the spree-killers of Scream.  You can tell that everyone involved with this film -- Campbell, Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, Rose McGowan, Jamie Kennedy, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Wes Craven, Kevin Williamson, even Drew Barrymore and Henry Winkler, had fun making this movie.

5. "Baby's fat...you're fat...fat and juicy!"

Another Wes Craven golden gasser, this one from The Hills Have Eyes.  I will repeat here the advisory I once read in a Time Out New York article about Uncle Wes, advice I found, and still find, useful:  If your exposure to Wes Craven has come primarily from the Scream movies, or even the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and you think to yourself, "I like those funny Wes Craven movies!  I think I'll rent Last House on the Left or The Hills Have Eyes!  It'll be a riot!"...no, it won't.  These movies are very, very, very, very disturbing.  Did I mention very?  Very.

6. "If you are sad and like beer, I'm your lady."

Guy Maddin is a filmmaker and lunatic from Winnipeg.  His movies definitely are love-'em-or-hate-'em enterprises.  I have loved them ever since my dear friends Sharon and Todd introduced me to Maddin via Tales from Gimli Hospital.  This particular line comes from The Saddest Music in the World, delivered by the luminous Isabella Rossellini, as the wealthy owner of a Winnipeg brewery during the Great Depression. Other reasons to love this movie (or for me to love it, anyway) include my boyfriend Mark McKinney in the lead, gorgeous cinematography, terrific music and the most demented play-by-play commentary (accompanying the titular contest) in existence.

7. "Aunt Barbara, I love you, but you're gonna get it."

Continuing the Isabella Rossellini tribute (although Ms. R. did not actually deliver this line), this comes from Blue Velvet, delivered by sweet little Kyle McLachlan.  It's not the most famous line from Blue Velvet, but really, do you need to hear "Heineken?  Fuck that shit!  Pabst Blue Ribbon!" one more time?

8. "Well, that's the war for you. It's always hard on women. Either they take your men away and never send them back at all, or they send them back unexpectedly just to embarrass you. No consideration at all."

This comes from the sublime 1944 Preston Sturges comedy Hail the Conquering Hero, starring Astoria, Queens's own Eddie Bracken as Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith.  The son of a deceased war hero, Woodrow rushes to enlist, only to be designated 4F by chronic hay fever.  Loath to return home and admit he can't be a hero just like his old man, Woodrow meets a group of furloughed soldiers in a bar, who decide to boost his spirits by creating an alternate tale for him to bring home to his family, a tale of receiving an honorable discharge after being wounded in combat.  Complications, of course, ensue.  I love this movie so; I want to recommend it to as many people as is humanly possible, particularly in light of current events and the question of media manipulation of war news coverage.

9. "Your Honor, the charge is homicide. Never having done it before is not a defense."

We can dig it.  This comes from Shaft, not the original ("Richard Roundtree IS Shaft!"wink, but from the 2000 update ("Richard Roundtree IS the uncle of Shaft!"wink.  I didn't really have a lot of expectations for this movie -- except, of course, for the always-enjoyable spectacle of Samuel L. Jackson opening cans of richly-deserved whoopass -- so I was pleasantly surprised by the droll line above, which is delivered by the district attorney after the counsel for the defense, at Christian Bale's bail hearing, points out that the defendant is from a socially prominent family and has no criminal record.

10. "Well, Brian, congratulations! You've succeeded in convincing me that you do have the most tedious fucking job in England."

From the same film:

"You think you can recapture your youth by fucking it? You don't want to fuck me. You'll catch something cruel."

The famous and not-at-all-evil Walt brings a smile to my face once again, this time for his correct identification of the two lines from Naked, as well as his anecdote about improvised dialogue.  If you are not familiar with the director Mike Leigh, he does indeed create scripts based on improv from his actors.  Naked is not my favorite Leigh movie -- that would be Life is Sweet -- but it is the one that takes my breath away every time I see it; it is brilliant, visceral, horrifying, sad, funny and it never, ever flinches.  David Thewlis plays the protagonist, Johnny, as a whipsmart, doomed monster, turning from sexy to repellent on a dime.  (I first saw Thewlis in Life is Sweet, in a small but memorable role as Jane Horrocks' lover, who at first glance appears thuggish and brutish, but ultimately proves himself to be curious, intelligent, and oddly tender, trying in vain to engage Horrocks' Nicola in a Socratic dialogue about the feminist texts on her bookshelf.)  Although the two lines I quoted are the ones I associate most with this movie, probably my favorite moment is when Johnny is reading the Bible and wonders, aloud, "Fucking hell, why hast thou forsaken me?  Bastard."

11. "Now this next part, I think you're not gonna like."

From the same film:

"When I invite a woman to dinner, I expect her to look at my face. That's the price she has to pay."

Called once again by Snowball.  These two lines are from A Night at the Opera, the fastest and funniest of the Marx Brothers movies.  My mom has frequently told the story of sitting in my grandmother's kitchen, drinking coffee, and suddenly hearing deep belly laughs from the living room, coming from my two-year-old self.  She went into the living room to see what could make me laugh that hard for that long.  It was Monkey Business, specifically the scene where Harpo chases girls around campus on a bicycle.  You can't go wrong with any Marx Bros. movie, but I like Night at the Opera best because it has everything in it:  the Marxes, Margaret Dumont, Allan Jones and Kitty Carlisle as the winsome and not-at-all-saccharine lovers, the famous crowded stateroom scene, the famous switching-the-furniture-between-rooms scene, decent musical numbers, and more perfect one-liners than can be counted in one lifetime.  ("I can see you now, bending over a hot stove.  Only I can't see the stove."wink

12. "Shut up, Linda!"

We close with a quote from Evil Dead, starring my boyfriend Bruce Campbell as Ash.  This particular line is delivered as the aforementioned evil dead are occupying the body of Ash's girlfriend Linda.  They dig her fingers into his flesh, they draw blood, they try to kill him, they spew viscous body fluids all over him -- and then the taunting starts.  It is one thing to be nearly devoured by your dead girlfriend, but being taunted by her, well, this cannot stand.  This is my second favorite line from the Evil Dead trilogy, running just ahead of "Shop smart.  Shop S-Mart," but just behind "All right, you primitive screwheads, listen up!"

Posted by Bakerina at 10:37 PM in • (1) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
February 27, 2005

To those of you who have asked, and to those of you who have arrived via food porn watch: no, dear friends, last night's post is not indicative of the future direction of PTMYB. It does not happen often, but it does happen: Every now and again I need to howl, Lear-like, into the storm, until I am all howled out, at which point I can resume the silly stories about food or the cranky riffs on news stories that get up my pipe.

Unfortunately, I have no cranky riffs or silly stories tonight. It has been a quiet weekend in beautiful uptown Astoria, a weekend in which I decided to take a break from the library this week and head down to the farmers market. My new Saturday routine is to recognize that there are three places at which I must be: the market, the gym, the library. As long as I get to at least two out of the three, it is a good Saturday. I failed in this regard yesterday, having made it to the market only, but it was still a good Saturday: a day of black coffee and toasted walnuts; a day for buying onions and potatoes and perfect shallots, multibulbed shallots with taut golden skins stretched over purple-striated flesh; a day of dreaming of rough-textured rabbit ragu for pappardelle and a big fat capon for Sunday dinner; a day of warm lentils and goat cheese for lunch; a day for the gentle cooking of butter and chocolate together, of melting sugar into them and whisking like mad while adding fat quivering egg yolks, one by one, of turning egg whites into glossy snow, folding it all together, setting it carefully into the oven and waiting for that dreamy moment when the house smells like chocolate, the fragrance settling over us like a warm blanket; a day of craving olives and oranges, not knowing why, but knowing that that craving will only be satisfied by buying a bag of tangelos, rubbing that fat capon with salt and olive oil and the juice of those tangelos, running through your fingers as you catch the seeds, the cavity stuffed with more oranges and the whole thing roasted to crackly orangey olivey perfection; a day for dicing mountains of vegetables and sweating them in a cast-iron skillet until they are soft, tossing them into a Dutch oven with that rabbit you bought, along with white wine and water and tomatoes and bay leaves and just a pinch of cinnamon and clove, cooked almost into oblivion, until the meat falls from the bone into shreds, and the vegetables collapse into the sauce; a day for buying the cleanest-tasting pasta sheets in the world, the ones where you can smell wheat and water and egg as soon as you open the bag, the ones that will sit under your ragu like a pillow, and will slide down your throat like they were made just for you; a day for putting up a sponge of flour and milk and sugar and salt and yeast, a sponge that will sit overnight and will be enriched with butter and an egg the next morning, so that your husband can say with surprise, "you made waffles!"; a day for planning a holiday, a long-dreamed-of holiday in a soft green country; a day for reading books, taking notes, paying homage to those who have come before you, the work they did and the knowledge they share with you now; a day for writing or calling or just thinking of the people who you are lucky enough to know and love: Happy anniversary. I baked you a cake. Thank you. I miss you. I love you, always did, always will.



Posted by Bakerina at 11:04 PM in incoherent ravings about food • (1) Comments • (1) Trackbacks

A warning, dear friends:  Tonight's post is about as much fun as its title would indicate.  If you were hoping for more funny stories about food, I'm sure they'll find their way here in the next few days.  They won't be here tonight, though.

I've used this quote in this space at least once before, but it contains so much truth, so concisely stated, that I must call on it again.  One of the best books I own is Debby Bull's book Blue Jelly:  Love Lost and the Lessons of Canning.  Debby Bull is a freelance writer and former staff writer at Rolling Stone who turned to canning after her live-in boyfriend abruptly broke off their relationship.  One day, after returning home from a road trip, she answers her door to a neighbor, an older man who presents her with a bag of lettuce from his garden, a government pamphlet on the importance of eating vegetables, and a promise to pray for her.  After the neighbor leaves, Ms. Bull is flooded with sadness at the idea that while other people found husbands and had children, she only had a bag of lettuce.  She flings herself to the floor, sobbing, and realizes that the worst part of grieving are those days when she felt that she hadn't made any progress at all.

I think about this a lot, not only because it is a beautifully written piece, but because it reflects my least favorite aspect of grief and sadness, the discovery that grief is not a one-way street, that feeling better can take weeks or months or years, but it only takes an instant to feel worse.  I pay a lot of lip service to the stages of grief, and to the necessity of feeling them, but in practical terms, I do not like them, not at all.  I like a nice, clean, linear grieving process, and when my emotions don't bend to my will, I get confused and tetchy.

Unfortunately, real grief doesn't care a button for my idea of a well-ordered universe, and it is ruthlessly efficient at springing sadness on us out of nowhere.  My heart was broken in 17 places by nakedjen's tale of slowly getting used to the loss of her beloved dog Clydesdale, who had kept her company for nearly half her life, only to find herself reading herbal manuals in a bookstore, realizing that she had prepared one of those tinctures for Clyde, and finding herself in tears, missing her dear sweet friend so terribly.  Again, I know it's all part of the process, but I hate this part of the process, and I hate that Jen has to suffer through it.

I hate this idea that we are so vulnerable to being blindsided by grief.  I don't mind the idea that before we can feel better, we have to feel worse.  I do mind the idea that even after we feel better, we can still feel worse, much, much worse.  After my grandfather died in October 2003, I missed him intensely, and in fact, I still do, but for some reason I was spared that blindsided, seemingly-out-of-nowhere, broken-glass sadness.  My mom, though, was not.  She and my grandfather were close, and had become closer during his illness, and she frequently found herself knocked sideways by freight-train-force grief.  I hate this.  I hate any universe that would put her through this.

Oddly enough, the one time I remember feeling this sort of grief out of nowhere was after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  I say "oddly enough" not because it is odd to feel grief or loss or sadness about 9/11, but because I had been extraordinarily lucky on that day.  Everyone I loved, everyone I could have lost, was safe on that day, and I feel a bit weird glomming onto a sadness that didn't belong to me.  Then again, if you were in the city, or in the vicinity of one of the downed planes, it was impossible to feel that that sadness wasn't a part of you.  There was literally something in the air, something that smelled of ink and cordite, and we were breathing it in, absorbing it through our skin.

After the attacks, I felt plenty of shock, plenty of sadness, and I cried plenty of tears, but they were restrained tears, and the sadness was a controlled sadness, the kind of sadness you feel when you know in the back of your mind that you have only so much time to feel what you're feeling, because you have things to do and people who are counting on you.  Then on September 25, 2001, I got lost.

Not many people remember that September 11, 2001 was a primary election day in New York State.  That was the year of the New York City mayoral race, as well as other state offices.  I had voted on September 11; after the attacks, the mayor and governor had announced that the election would be postponed and that all votes cast that day would be invalid.  We would have to vote again.  On September 25, I voted again.  Now, for all my problems with our government, for all my beliefs that we have a flawed version of a democratic republic, I love the process of voting.  I love the feeling that I am living a civics lesson.  I love that the median age of the poll station workers is about 80, and that if you are under 80, they fuss over you:  they ask if you know how to use the voting machines, they thank you profusely for voting, they do everything short of pinning your mittens to your coat.  So I went back to the polls, I re-cast my votes, I headed to the subway to go to work.  I thought about how neat I find voting, and I thought to myself, "Well, that's one good memory you can take from the 11th.  You can remember how good it felt to vote that morning."  At that instant, I realized that at that moment, the moment I had pulled the lever and felt like Little Miss Citizen, the four planes had been hijacked.  The planes that had left Logan had already turned around and were headed toward the towers; everyone on those planes knew that it had started, while those of us on the ground had no earthly idea.  The realization of it, it froze me in my tracks in front of a gas station, and it made me clap my hands to my face and cry, baby crying, hiccupping sobs the likes of which I had not cried since I was small.  It would not be the last time.

You have to let what will happen happen, my wiser self tells my not-so-wise self, but my not-so-wise self is not interested.  I can see terrible days ahead of me, and I know that there is nothing I can do about them.  One of the dearest friends I have is dying.  Just typing the words makes me feel like throwing up.  (Because I am stubborn, I feel compelled to say that maybe he will beat the odds, and maybe he won't die.  Then I think of a line from Joe Keenan's Putting on the Ritz, used in an admittedly more frivolous context. Philip, the hero, living in a fool's paradise he knows he can't sustain, admits he avoids thinking about his inevitable eviction from said paradise by asking himself not "when?" but "if?", answering "maybe not", and abruptly changing the subject.)  I am clinging on to every shred of hope, kicking and screaming and threatening the universe that it had better do right by my friend.  Eventually, though, it will happen, that to which I can't bear to give voice right now, and just when I think that I will be able to do this, that I will be able to face a future that doesn't include my friend, I know that one day I'll be standing in a bookstore, or flipping the dial on a car radio, or hiking in the Ozarks, and something will happen, something will pop out at me and flood me with loss, and I am going to know that this is the worst thing about loss, and I am going to hate it.


Posted by Bakerina at 12:01 AM in Truly, Madly, Deeply • (2) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
February 25, 2005

While I collect my thoughts and words, dear friends, here are some more pictures from Wednesday's Grand Day Out with my mom, who was very pleased with how our Gates photos turn out.  These, along with the one I posted on Wednesday, are my favorites.  I'm a big fan of the fourth and fifth photos in the series, the fourth for setting up an optical illusion, the fifth for correcting it.







Posted by Bakerina at 09:26 PM in • (0) Comments

Bitterness becomes no one, dear friends, and I promise that I am not bitter.  What I am is sad, and puzzled, and puzzled because I am sad and should not be.  Of all the problems facing the world today, the ubiquity of takeout roast chicken is pretty small potatoes, so to speak.  After all, isn't it better to have roast chicken for a week's worth of meals than to rely on a week's worth of fast food?  If the price gap between a raw chicken and a rotisseried home-meal-replacement chicken is closing, where is the harm in spending a few extra cents?  And didn't Laurie Colwin once write that while you want to procure the best chicken that you can, ultimately any roast chicken is better than no roast chicken?

Well, yes, except that she then followed it up with directions on how to roast your chicken yourself, and according to Julia Moskin's New York Times article,  roasting a chicken is another one of those things that we fabulous urbanites are supposed to be too busy to learn how to do:

"I consider the perfect roast chicken my own Holy Grail," said Ly Phan, a Vietnamese-American living in Brentwood, Calif. But, she said: "I don't want to learn to make it. I just want to be able to buy it."

A reliable place to buy a good roast chicken has become an important quality-of-life matter for those too busy to cook. "I buy a chicken here every Sunday, and I eat it all week," Paul Griscom said at the Whole Foods Market at Columbus Circle. "I used to live close to Fairway, and I was nervous about moving away from those chickens. But the ones here are even better." At Whole Foods and elsewhere, the price of a whole roasted organic chicken is almost the same as a raw one.

Roasting a chicken at home may become a domestic throwback, like darning socks or putting up peaches.

Mr. Griscom said that he doesn't know how to roast a chicken. "I know, it's supposed to be so easy," he said. "But how would I know when it was done?"

Now, I know that two anecdotes do not a social movement make, and it's entirely possible that I am not a relic.  From where I sit tonight, though, I'm not so sure.

Posted by Bakerina at 12:22 AM in incoherent ravings about food • (2) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
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