Monday, November 27, 2006

My parents are coming

This time tomorrow I will be retrieving them at LAX! We should have a nice time. I suspect we'll mostly bum around Santa Monica, with perhaps a short trip into downtown for viewing of my office. So why am I so nervous? There's something about the parents' visit... the world inside your 30-year-old head collides with the world you grew up in, and there can be discrepancies, such as that you are living in sin with an Art Boy. I was going to spend today cleaning but I think I'm going to throw that over in favor of some yoga. And making dinner reservations. As long as dinner is planned for, everything else will fall into place, I'm thinking.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


With the addition of green bean casserole and pumpkin cheesecake from Sub Diego, Thanksgiving was completed satisfactorily. Everyone ate and got full and we just had a right nice time. I talked to Mom last night and she said everyone at the ancestral "Blackwood" manse was talking about my attempt to make rolls. She also said there were 43 people (it's a small manse) and zillions of toddlers running around, so it was a little chaotic. I rather enjoyed having a small adult gathering for a change.

And now it is time for Christmas music! At some point I will do a post running down my holiday favorites, but not today, as have not had enough coffee yet.

Today's book: "Cloud Atlas," by David Mitchell. This novel is outstanding, but I'm only halfway through it, and it's about to turn around and blow my mind I think. It's a series of seemingly unrelated story fragments that build on each other - the previous story is referenced somewhere in each new one, so it's like (as the critics on the back say) a puzzle box or Russian nesting dolls. I've reached the center "doll" now and it's about to all start coming together. It's like being at the top of the roller coaster just before the plunge.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Merry merry (scary)

The situation, updated:

Dressing: Done! I used rosemary instead of celery; this made it perhaps a bit dryer than otherwise.

Potato-apple gratin: Done! I hate baked apples so there's more potato than apple in it. Still, there it is. The key element is the gratin.

Rolls: Making an experimental second batch, just because I have time. We'll see which batch is better. I have always held that there's no such thing as too many rolls. One Thanksgiving at my aunt's I ate 13.

Art Boy: Home from work for a 4-day weekend, bearing a celebratory bottle of wine and seeming quite perky. We are kicking off the season of festiveness and lights and whatnot with some nice loud music. I do love this time of year, and it's even better not being freezing cold. *pauses to contemplate previous apartment, where the cold came through the edges around every window pane.* The best thing about it, though, is my Johnny Mathis "Christmas Is... " CD. Art Boy does not know about this yet, but oh dear readers, he will.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The situation

The situation is, his guns are bigger than mine and he has more of them.

.......Sorry. The situation in Emma's kitchen is as follows:

Turkey: In oven. Sorry, Big Country, I decided not to brine and smoke it. For one thing, the turkey I ended up buying is a bit ... large and will not fit in any of my containers for brining. (I considered using a plastic bucket, but Art Boy said he would take a picture of it and show everyone after they had finished eating.) So I gave it a salt-pepper-garlic-salt rub and then a nice butter rub before stuffing it full of whatever I had lying around (carrots, apples, potatoes) and throwing it in the oven. It's hanging out there now.

Gravy: Stock is in process on stovetop. Am planning to defy Mom's advice and not mince giblets to add to it.

Rolls: Rising. I had to really pry the recipe out of Mom, who like many of her generation is in love with prepackaged bread products. If the alternatives were bread from scratch or no bread at all, I would certainly understand. (Sort of like my friend's mom saying "I don't know why you girls today are all buying garter belts. We were so happy when pantyhose were invented.") Anyway, Mom apologized tonight for being so nonforthcoming, and explained that she's never had much luck with my aunt (her sister-in-law)'s recipe. After Granny "Blackwood" died, my aunt practiced making these rolls over and over and over and over until she got it right. God alone knows how my first batch will turn out, but the last thing I need is to piss off my other deceased grandmother.

Mashed sweet potatoes:

Emma: Drinking bourbon and secretly quite pleased to be in Southern California rather than East Tennessee.


Oh, alas. I am very sad about the death of Robert Altman. While I haven't seen the vast majority of his movies, I have returned to "M*A*S*H" many times in these five years. ("My God! They've shot him!" "Hot Lips, you incredible nincompoop, it's the end of the quarter.") It has proved a great comfort as we have nationally made asses of ourselves in Iraq. And "Prairie Home Companion," was, well, pretty good; fittingly, its subject is death. Anyway, RIP, sir. I hope to be half as crotchety and brilliant at 81, although I probably won't do quite so many drugs.

Friday, November 17, 2006

T minus six days

It has occurred to me that I should start thinking about Thanksgiving, particularly as dinner will be here. (If you're in the area, feel free to drop by around noon.) This morning I emailed Mom asking for some recipes, and she came through in spades as always. I will be making scalloped potatoes, cranberry relish, vegetarian dressing, turkey and gravy. My favorite line, from the gravy recipe:

Strain the solids out and chop whatever looks appealing to you of the giblets to add to the gravy.

It is always so hard choosing which giblets are the most appealing, but these sacrifices are what the holidays are all about. Meanwhile, I'm going to have to discreetly call my aunt and ask for her roll recipe. This is hard as have never phoned this particular aunt, discreetly or otherwise, but these are really really good rolls.

Anyone know of good elements to apply to turkey besides celery and onions? I hate celery and Art Boy hates onions. On the other hand, we're both really excited about the turkey.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


OK, I have to join Art Boy and many others in praising I wanted to support them because they revived WOXY, which is of course the future of rock 'n' roll, but it is just a lot of fun to browse their CDs. My want list includes some semi-obscure ones (first album by Mouth Music, anyone?) and four of them (including Mouth Music) are already on the way. This is particularly fun because Art Boy, whose tastes are genuinely obscure, is having trouble finding any takers for his unwanted CDs. All of my CDs are wanted by someone (except for the "Sunset Boulevard" soundtrack and a Ben Folds Five CD I took from my sister & should probably not be giving away anyhow). Nyah nyah, Art Boy!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday update

Absolutely no news from our household today. This is an update for the sake of an update. Art Boy and I saw a play on Friday and watched "Battlestar Galactica." Then I worked a couple of late shifts while AB partied in Hollywood. (Actually, I think he and some other guys just hung out watching "The Phantom Menace" and making fun of it.) Am spending my weekend tomorrow/Wednesday with friends in San Diego, which is expected to be buckets of fun. I just bought some cat food. That's all. Carry on.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oh democracy II

Well, that was rather exciting. My favorite election-night activity was refreshing a page with the Virginia returns every 2 minutes. It's Allen! Now it's Webb! Now it's Allen again! A colleague and I kept calculating the difference and yelling it back & forth. It was more fun than 2004 because there was just so much less hope Tuesday. And it's nice that the Democrats have Swept Back Into Power, but Art Boy and I are pessimistic. We agreed last night that Bush can now blame the Democrats for everything that happens in Iraq; he will have no problem claiming serenely that Iraq was going great until now. In a year or so, he'll be able to spin Rumsfeld's departure to look like it was forced upon him by the Democrats.

Art Boy has been predicting Vice President Rice for the past couple of years. Now Buck has joined the chorus. I've always argued this point with AB but I have to say it's looking like Bush's only hope of a legacy.

There have been remarks about Tennessee in light of Ford's loss in the Senate race. I refer the people who make these remarks to an excellent Nashville Scene article: "All politics is local. Whereas across the country, this midterm election was a referendum on the president and the Iraq war, the Tennessee election was a referendum on Ford Jr., his corrupt family and Memphis politics in general. That story, of course, was the one Tennessee voters knew but that national media ignored."

Meanwhile, my employer is in turmoil and may be purchased by a cadre of billionaires. And one of our cats has really bad breath. I need a drink.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Oh democracy

I get to go and vote against Arnold Schwarzenegger today - yet another one of those things I never imagined I'd be doing. (Another was sitting on the beach listening to my mom recount the plot of "Thong Girl 3" over the phone.) And then I get to go to work and stay late while we see what havoc the electronic voting machines wreak. At least there will be pizza! Democracy = pizza!

Art Boy has some great snapshots from our Halloween-location road trip. Evidently the one of me in front of the Myers House, holding my sunglasses like a butcher knife, was not good enough for him. Hmph.

We saw "Borat" the other night. I love Borat dearly. I have been comforted this election season by thinking of the episode where he goes door-to-door with a candidate saying "If you do not vote for my friend, he will take power!" And the movie was funny, but he really goes out of his way to make people miserably uncomfortable, and it sat poorly with me afterward. Yes, great comedy provokes, and Richard Pryor, and blah blah; I've read several essays on this subject. But it's just mean to smash up a guy's antique store because he has some Confederate-flag items, and to humiliate a dining society because they live on Secession Drive. I don't find it very cricket for an Englishman to come over and act like Confederate flags are all crazy. I know they all wrote papers in school on the civil-rights movement and think American Southerners are just savage, but perhaps they should deal with their own problems. Anyway, it wasn't all bad. We did love the frat boys on the bus. (Even though they were Southern, and he got some racist comments out of them; that was their own fault.)

Today's book: "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife" by Mary Roach. I'm disappointed in this one. It's got some great trivia but her writing style is way too snarky; it reads like some editor called her up and told her she needed to sound more like Sarah Vowell. Every other sentence is a completely irrelevant aside. It doesn't deserve its beautiful cover (which is prettier than the one Powells is selling).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I was just doing yoga here in the dining room and discovered a clump of apparently-human hair painted into the baseboard. It's all covered with white paint. You can hardly see it unless, say, you're standing with your head near your ankle. Eww eww eww eww eww!! I love it.

It's not October without these

I am just hopelessly in love with my own severed-finger cookies. It's Martha Stewart's recipe, but I modify it with greenish food coloring and almond slices instead of whole almonds for the fingernails. The slices tend to break irregularly and look really disgusting. This year I made a batch to take to work. Art Boy is always completely and utterly horrified by the fingers, but this year his horror gave way to fascination and he picked up a camera:

Granted, it's not October at all anymore. I woke up this morning after a night of Michael Myers nightmares and thought, "Halloween is over." My first sensation was relief. Onward to turkey and whatnot.

But the House of Restless Spirits that we visited last night was fabulous. Excellent sound effects and a quietly creepy aesthetic. You walk around the outside of the rooms and peek in at holograms, moving portraits and a doll that suddenly turns its head. Eek! I highly recommend it, if you're ever in Santa Monica on Halloween.