Magic in the Moonlight:
I am well aware that Woody Allen is problematical for one million and four reasons. I also find the word problematical…problematical, but that’s for another time. Even though he is horrible, I have a confession, I love his European movies. I can’t help it. They’re the kind of movie I’d make if I was a director. They make me love cinema and dream and I don’t care one whit that their plots are effervescent. Midnight in Paris is one of my all-time favorite films and is one of the only movies that I will watch again and again and again. The mood is wonderful and the lighting is perfection and everything about it is a sumptuous daydream. I don’t care that it makes no sense — how on earth is that cozy little Parisian street able to go back in time? It doesn’t matter to me. Magic in the Moonlight was another treat and full of all my favorite things: the South of France, gorgeous architecture, perfect lighting, the 1920s, MONEY, and psychics. Did it spring from my own brain like Athena bursting out of Zeus’s head? The story revolves around Colin Firth trying to find fault with the fantastical Emma Stone. She is a conduit for the other side and has taken in a very, very, very wealthy family. He can’t discover anything suspicious about her, which infuriates him, and then he falls head over heels for her. There is an age difference that is troubling, but that’s not that important here. The dialogue is lovely, and I was rather taken by a scene where Colin’s character goes on about life: “[People] never stop for a moment to consider what a rotten deal [life] appears to be. To be born, to have committed no crime, and yet to be sentenced to death.” Charming. Put this one on your Netflix queues immediately.
The Internet is full of all sorts of absurd treats, and this is one of my favorite discoveries of late. You put your Twitter handle in, and then the computer runs some kind of algorithm to make a rhyming poem of your past missives. It takes a few times to find something that makes any sense, which will probably never happen, but I had the nicest time laying in bed the other night and reading the various constructions out loud in a dramatic Shakespearean voice to my cat. (I’m so lonely.) Here’s one of my favorite bits:
Flamboyant Hitler. Always a treat,
Wake me when the crocus blooms!
And we have a lovely time, repeat,
Where are my enviable biceps?
Of course it doesn’t mean much of anything, but does anything really mean much of anything? Try it out. You’ll have an uproarious good time. Maybe not. I’m easily amused.
Step Tracker on iPhone:
I was not aware of that Health app thing built into the latest version of iOS. I always try to be focused and dedicated to fitness, but that’s not who I am, nor who I ever will be, so it’s no surprise that it was hiding from me. Since I’m going to California in five months and it is constitutionally required to be hella hot when you’re in Los Angeles, I’m trying to get into better shape. I like walking. It’s basically the only exercise I enjoy because while you walk you can do other things. You can read a book. You can listen to podcasts or books on Audible. You can skip and dance. You can put on a concert. You can get some fresh air — well not anymore since there’s fifteen feet of snow outside. But it’s much more fun than weight lifting or crunches. Magically, because technology has reached a point where I no longer understand how it works, the iPhone can keep track of how many steps you walk. I’ve set a goal of 10,000 steps per day, which is somewhat reasonable if I walk after work and take the long way to lunch. I feel myself developing an unhealthy complex with this, though, and will soon feel worthless unless I find myself with 20,000 or more steps in the bank. I recall David Sedaris reading an essay to me…well not just to me, there were a few others in the audience, but he was clearly taken mostly with me because we later discussed the merits of various drag queens and the best places to eat in the Louvre food court…I’ve had a strange life…anyway, he suddenly felt that he had to up and up the steps he tracked on his FitBit. It took over his life and he couldn’t do anything until he had walked 35,000 steps. I understand his obsession completely. Don’t be surprised to see me marching in place at work. MUST BE FIT. MUST BE THIN.
Hackney Missing Persons Twitter Account [@]:
Did I ever tell you about that time I was nearly jacked for my bling and left for dead in a dirty London borough? I’m sure I did. I’ll refresh you. It was late. Jessica and I were in Hackney. The streets were devoid of life. The streetlights glimmered faintly in the summer’s heat. Kind of sounds like Jack the Ripper is going to pop up. WELL HE DID. Out of nowhere, a man appeared and began pursuing us, much too closely. Jessica and I had both been on Tumblr long enough that we knew this wasn’t going to end well, so we rounded a corner and managed to escape from our killer. Now, this sadly does not read as dramatically as the experience was. I’m not sure how to convey just how frightening this gentleman was. My heart was racing. I think it’s the second closest I’ve ever been to death. Anyway, Hackney is a horrible place and I recommend you never go there. Stay someplace nice like Kensington or Bloomsbury. I’ll never stay in a London suburb again. At least not that one. I had tried to efface the memory from my mind, but it comes back and haunts me at the oddest moments. I recently found the Hackney police’s twitter and I spent a good half hour scrolling through the missing people’s reports. It seems that everybody goes missing! I don’t know how we made it out alive. Thank Beysus we did.
“A Cook Abroad” on the BBC:
I make no apologies for my absolute obsession with all things Egypt. It used to be restricted to ancient Egypt, but after visiting the country of all my childhood fancies last summer, this fervor extends to the modern culture as well. I just love it. Using that HOLA! app that I told you about a few weeks back, I was able to stream A Cook Abroad off of the BBCs wonderful website. I wish our cable networks had a service comparable to that. But back to the point. In the premiere episode, chef Dave Myers goes to Egypt to find the origins of some of our favorite foods, as Egypt is home to the oldest recipes and is sometimes seen as the origin of modern cuisine. I was enraptured at the first. He goes to a local cart to get ful medames, that wonderful fava bean stew that I love so much. He had the most delicious falafels, which made me almost homesick for the Pyramid View Inn — they brought me the best falafels. He even went inside one of the many bakeries, which was an exceptional treat. Bread baking is my original culinary passion, and one that I still practice regularly. The bread that the modern Egyptians make is very similar to that of the ancients, except not stuffed with grit and sand. It was so interesting to see the process, which is incredibly different from that we use and that I was trained in at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. But the most wonderful moment for me was when he was outside the pyramids on Sphinx Street. That was my home for a week; it was where I had tremendously important moments. I met Lady M there, and it’s where I learned to love modern Egypt and where I learned how to be an Egyptian. I saw the shops I frequented and the bank I used. I saw a camel that looked awfully familiar and I swear it was my camel, Bob Marley. It was just wonderful and it made me teary-eyed, and perhaps I loved it because I miss Egypt so much. Or maybe I’m just hungry. Both are equally likely.
Olive Garden Salad:
If you had asked me years and years ago if I ever thought that salad would be my favorite food, I would have laughed myself silly. I still find it rather strange, but my love of salad is absolutely real. I used to proclaim that the salad bar at Whole Foods was the epitome of salad deliciousness, but they never have sesame spinach or marinated tofu anymore. Rude. Now, my favorite salad in all the world comes from Olive Garden. It’s even better with the Roasted Caprese Topper, which is an addition of mozzarella, basil, kale, roasted tomatoes, and bell peppers. It is fabulous. I had an entire portion for lunch yesterday, and I have rarely been happier. If I lived in Des Moines or someplace close by, I would be at the Olive Garden every day for lunch. It’s fabulous. It’s perfection. It is heaven on earth. Go the Olive Garden, dear readers, HURRY!
The Martha Cafe:
Yesterday, Martha Stewart tweeted something that about made me puke with excitement. You know how Martha and I are something of a sad romance, right? We should be the best of friends, but geographic problems, in addition to economic and age issues, keeps us from each other. If only I had been older, she would be my best friend in all the entirety of the world. We’re basically the same person, after all. I’ve never stalked her all over New York City or stared forlornly into her office windows or creeped by every restaurant she’s ever recommended in the vain hope of catching a sight of her. HA HA THAT IS SOMETHING CRAZY PEOPLE DO. Definitely not me…nope…I would never. (I would. I DID. Why were you hiding, Martha?) Anyway, she tweeted that she was testing baristas for a cafe she was opening. A CAFE? She even called it THE MARTHA CAFE. I choked on my espresso. Can you imagine anything more fabulous than a Martha Stewart branded coffee shop? Think of the tasteful assortment of cakes! Think of the Sharkey Grey walls! Think of the casual elegance of the decor! Think of the guest list! I’M HAVING A MOMENT. I’m better now. She claims this cafe is opening soon and on Instagram she mentioned the address, which I immediately bookmarked in my map app. I WILL BE THERE WHENEVER SHE DEIGNS TO OPEN THE DOORS. I love Martha. I totally wouldn’t stalk her. I definitely wouldn’t. I WOULD.
I don’t really get headaches very often. I don’t fall ill that often. I have an uninterestingly healthy constitution. You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? I WAS IN WESTERN AFRICA AT THE HEIGHT OF THE EBOLA EPIDEMIC, AND I DID NOT EVEN GET A SNIFFLE. That was cruel. I would have loved to catch ebola. Think of the fabulous stories I would have been able to share at cocktail parties. Think of the chapter that could have been in my autobiography, Wake Me When the Crocus Blooms. Think of the fun I would have had being interviewed from behind plastic quarantine curtains. Alas. No. It wasn’t to be and that’s just not fair. Anyway, for the past weekend, I have been plagued with headaches that have proven to be rather severe. It felt as if my head was being drilled into and I was immensely sensitive to light. I was up all night with one the other day and took off the next day of work to recuperate. I still had a few more during the day. I’m hoping this is just some kind of sinus pressure and not something more malevolent. Fingers crossed. Ebola is all fun and games, but I’m not here for a brain tumor. [UPDATE: Turns out the headache was due to extreme caffeine withdrawals…LOL I’m going to die.]
Homemade Mongolian Tofu:
One of my favorite dishes in all the world is something called Mongolian mushrooms. It is based off the more common Mongolian beef that you often find in Chinese restaurants. I love all the green onion and the crispy noodles, and anything with mushrooms is good with me. I have had a block of tofu in the fridge for a couple weeks now begging me to do something with it. So, I finally did. I found a recipe for Mongolian tofu. I was over the moon with excitement and so I quickly set to work. I pressed the tofu and I made the sauce, exactly following the instructions. I thickened the sauce and delightedly served myself a hearty portion. I took a bite and sighed. It wasn’t that good. It was way too sweet. Like, sickly sweet. It reminded me of the sweet chicken you get at fast food Chinese places, which I was never a fan of, even back in my carnivore days. I was very disappointed, but I’m determined to get this right eventually. I want to be able to easily whip up my own Chinese dishes. I have the wok and all the oils. It just takes practice, I suppose. Le sigh…
DEBILITATING Deodorant Allergy:
Have I ever told you about how I am terribly allergic to most brands of deodorant? It’s debilitating. I should be able to seek some kind of government assistance because of this. I am constantly trying new brands and varieties, but rarely with success. I did find one by Baxter of California that doesn’t cause me to erupt in rashes finally (isn’t that a lovely image?), which was a great joy to me. Unfortunately the replacement I ordered hasn’t arrived yet, so I tried another sample. WELL THAT WAS A MISTAKE. My underarms feel like Satan’s asshole. I’m proud of that comparison. My armpits actually woke me up last night with pain. This is so stupid. I am going to do what everybody in Hollywood does and get my underarms filled with Botox. This is real, guys! When the Botox is there, it closes your sweat pores and so you don’t suffer from unsightly stains on the red carpet. I think it’s a great idea. Only five more months until my California trip! Will insurance pay for me to see a Beverly Hills doctor? I hope so.