Whenever I’m in Paris, which is thankfully rather regular, I take careful note of the films being advertised in the Métro. For some reason, I inevitably see and love them, like Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec. I worship that film. I’ll never get over it. Thank Beysus you can stream it on Netflix now. I’ll wait…
…did you love it? Good!
On my most recent jaunt through my favorite city, I saw one of my favorite singers, Amy Winehouse, of all time plastered on the curved walls of the Metro. I was a fan of hers from the first song I heard, and my dedication to her and her memory has never wavered. I was quite gobsmacked when she died, and I still don’t believe that’s something that actually happened. It’s a different level of mourning from Joan Rivers, though, because I thought of Joan as family. Amy just had such seemingly endless potential. It’s bizarre to think that people like that get cut out of life too soon. But then again, if you believe things of that sort, there’s a proper moment for everything. Perhaps Amy’s oeuvre was just right as it was. I can’t say. All I know is that I love her performance of “Valerie” more than any other song that has been recorded in my lifetime.
I never managed to see the documentary, Amy, in theaters, but it was soon winging its way here as a Blu-Ray from Netflix. (Bless that service.) I watched the thing in a rapture. She was so intelligent, clever, and kind. It’s a cruel world that turned her into what she was. I don’t blame the world completely for her faults, because that would be utterly ridiculous, but the world didn’t do Amy any favors. Her father took advantage of her fame, her romantic interests did the same. They used her up and left her a withered husk. She didn’t want to sing tragic songs anymore, she exorcised them from her in Back to Black, but the public wants what it wants, and she was contractually obliged to give it to them. I’ll forever remember dragging Jessica through Camden a few years ago to stare at the gates of her home in memory. There was a little square across the street where fans left notes and candles and photographs. It was deeply sad. Amy is a tragic documentary, and tragically her story is not unique in this world of celebrity. Do see it, reader.
When I was most in Paris last summer, I stumbled upon a charming novel, Le Testament Néfertiti, at the bookstore of the Louvre about a young conservator in the Egyptology wing of the same museum. She went on a daring, and improbable, journey through Egypt and discovered a secret city unseen by modern eyes. It was silly, and the plot was flimsy, but I enjoyed it tremendously. I was overjoyed to discover that there was an earlier novel in the series, so I downloaded that right away. This one is about a search for the lost tomb of Alexander the Great, and a secret message written by Cleopatra herself. (As if a document written by that legendary queen would go on sale at a Parisian auction house across the street from the Louvre without any fanfare… Maybe it would, I can’t really say. I think that’s unlikely.) Anyway, in this latest installment, there was mention of a singer named Dalida. I stopped, and I thought, and I remembered that name. Why? It’s been weeks and I still honestly can’t tell you. So I downloaded an album of hers and was immediately entranced by the incredible variety of music ranging from French ballads, German pop, Arabic dance, and then Italian, Spanish, and I’m sure there was more. What an incredibly gifted woman.
I had to research her some more and I fell in love. She was born in Cairo and became fabulously famous for her tragic diva persona. She committed suicide, writing, “Life has become unbearable. Forgive me.” Now she’s buried in my beloved Paris in my second favorite cemetery. How tragic. How fabulous! I’ll visit her on my next trip and sing “Parole, Parole.”
Poached Eggs on Toast:
I talk a lot about foods because food is almost the most important thing in the world to me. Cats are first, of course. I love eating and I love cooking and I love concocting ideas and I love being served. Eating is everything. I’m sure I’ve talked about poached eggs on toast here before, but this web series is becoming ridiculously long, and I no longer know what I’ve written. So, I’ll do it again. Years ago, I stayed in a bed and breakfast in London and was served a peculiar breakfast that I was unsure of. I was given a toasted slice of bread topped with two poached eggs and chives. I looked at it with alarm. Before then, I had never really gotten into liquid yolks. But, I broke the poached egg and was rapturously delighted by the combination. Since then, it’s been a regular in my quick meal regiment. It doesn’t take any time at all to poach an egg, after all, and it takes even less effort to toast bread. People are afraid of poaching and making omelettes and everything, but that’s just a stereotypical thing, I find. Poached eggs, after all, don’t always turn out looking gorgeous, but they do turn out delicious. I always have a boule of bread at home, made with this recipe, and it’s so marvelous to toast a thick slice and top with two…or three…eggs. Then I top this dish with fleur de sel, freshly cracked black pepper, and parmigiano reggiano cheese. Oh reader, this is a sumptuous meal. Serve it on your finest Royal Doulton dinnerware. Add a mimosa. Live your best life.
Five-Ingredient Tomato Sauce:
I used to be all about elegant recipes and gourmet meals at home. I would think nothing of spending a few hours thinly slicing potatoes in a mandolin for a gratin. I would happily make stock. I would not bat an eyelash at the thought of making homemade pasta. But things have changed, dear reader. I no longer have time to accomplish anything, but my sob story of a full time job, full time academic schedule, and kinda busy social life, are all familiar to you. So, I look for simple meals that I can put together with little effort. That’s why I rely on no-knead bread, egg salad sandwiches, and omelettes. Eggs are bae, after all. This weekend I finally put together a recipe that I have had stored on my iPhone for ages, a five-ingredient tomato sauce. It was incredible, dear reader, and I want to share it with you. I made some changes from the version I found. Here’s my recipe: in a saucepan, combine 30 ounces diced or whole peeled tomatoes, one small peeled onion chopped in half, five peeled garlic cloves, five tablespoons of butter, and a generous pinch of salt (non iodized, please). Simmer on hella low for forty five minutes and blend with an immersion blender. It was incredible and took no work. I can’t get over it. Pour a generous serving over pasta and top with fresh parmigiano reggiano and basil from your hydroponic herb garden. Gorge, reader. Truly, this was divine.
“American Horror Story” Finale:
I scream about American Horror Story every season. It has such magnificent potential. What better than an inimitable acting troupe in sumptuous settings with monsters? Nothing. There could be nothing better. But, inevitably, viewers are let down. After the wonderfully constructed first season, we expected each successive one to have the same coherence, but it never does. The plots are nonsensical or convoluted. Strokes of brilliance are introduced, but they are almost assuredly never followed up on. Interesting characters come and go with no rhyme nor reason. It’s infuriating. At least I didn’t scream at the television all season long like I usually do. I won’t get into the many instances of where Ryan Murphy has clearly hacked into my writing. I just can’t do that today… This season, about a murderous hotel in Los Angeles, also held magnificent promise. Serial killers, Art Deco design, transgender bartenders, Lady Gaga, and my dear friend Sarah Paulson were all part of the mélange. (Remember when Jessica, Sarah Paulson, her girlfriend, and I stared at each other at Morel’s at The Grove last year? It was an unforgettable moment and one that I reference constantly.) Anyway, I enjoyed many elements of the season, even though I felt that it failed it’s opportunity a multitude of times. There was such a possibility for so many of the plots, and there were just too many loose strands to keep track of. Wonderfully, though, the season finale lived up to all of my dreams. Well, one half of it. Liz Taylor, the magnificent bartender of the hotel, had a happy ending unlike any that I could have expected in a show known for its terrific amounts of violence and tragedy. Her family accepted her, she looked flawless, she became the head of a fashion empire, and she got to live forever surrounded by her loved ones as a ghost in the hotel she found happiness in. But the greatest moment of the entire series, every season, was just after she woke up as a ghost. Her model boyfriend, Tristan, who had died much earlier, was there waiting for her with all the love in the world.
It was a magical moment, and I applaud you, Ryan Murphy, with choked tears. The show was, honestly, a mess, but I liked it, and I look forward to the next season this fall.