#192: Transformer by Lou Reed


Transformer by Lou Reed (1972)

Favorite Tracks: "Vicious" and "Andy's Chest" and "Perfect Day" and "Hangin' Round" and "Walk on the Wild Side" and "Make Up" and "Satellite of Love" and "Wagon Wheel" and "I'm So Free"

Thoughts: Confession time: I have very, very little knowledge of Lou Reed or his music.  I know one of his songs (which is incidentally on this album.  But the reason I know it has nothing to do with Lou Reed).

My dad visited me last week and I told him this was the next album on the list, and I blamed him for my lack of familiarity with Lou Reed.  He denied nothing, admitting he was never very into the guy.  In fact, when he tried to come up with Lou's biggest hit, he couldn't remember.  Lou Reed: revered among music lovers that are not in my immediate family.

But no matter what, this is a rock album from the early seventies.  Especially since I really liked the The Velvet Underground album at #310. I knew it couldn't be too bad.  And it wasn't! For some reason I always expected Lou to have some kind of raspy, creaky voice that you had to grow to love, but at least in the 70s, his voice was lovely!  Honestly, it felt a bit like a hybrid of David Bowie and Willie Nelson.  Strange, I know.

I totally recognized "Perfect Day" from Trainspotting, and it's a wonderful if slightly creepy song.  I definitely need to own it.  The one song I hinted at knowing is "Satellite of Love."  Who can guess why?  Because that's the name of the dog bone-shaped spaceship in Mystery Science Theater 3000.  I read in my Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide that this was the (likely) origin of the ship's name.  So I got this song!  The end.  But it is a great song.  I love the chorus and the little "bum, bum, bum."  That was my real first introduction to Lou Reed.

"Wagon Wheel" has a fun groove and fantastic female background vocals, even if I don't agree with its message of not wanting to sleep too long. "I'm So Free" had me dancing in my chair, and while I expected "Goodnight Ladies" to be the barbershop quartet song from The Music Man, it's cute tuba(?) and oboe tune won me over and was a perfect album closer.

All in all, I'm a Lou Reed convert, ready to explore the rest of his discography and add Transformer to my music library.

Is This Better Than Bad?: Not to me, but it's definitely a fantastic album!

Guys, I put stuff together, heated it up, and then ate it!


Remember that post about my mom's chocolate pie and how I would never attempt to recreate it no matter how much its perfection haunted me?  Well, after I published it my friend Chelsea--an ingenious and generous cook--texted me: "Just read your chocolate pie post and here is my Christmas present to you: if you get your mom to email you the recipe and buy all the ingredients I will come over and make it for you."

This made me very happy for two reasons.  1) I always like hearing that people read my blog.  2) Chelsea would make it possible for me to have my pie outside of a holiday at home with my parents!  Wonders of wonders, miracles of miracles.

Unfortunately Chelsea had unexpected grad school homework come up on the night we were to execute our birth plan for the Pie Messiah.  (When I say 'we' I meant I would watch and hand her things while she made it.)  I was bummed, but it was a helpful reminder that I receive from many of my friends on a regular basis: grad school is a bitch.

We could have just rescheduled, but I had spent the week anticipating the pie.  Imagining how good it would feel to have it in my own fridge where no family members could get to it...the extra gallon of milk I would need to have on hand...the size of the slices I could cut..the knowledge that I could eat it for every meal and only God (and the cats) could judge me.  The fantasy had taken hold, and all my reservations concerning my own endeavoring to make the pie were swept away.  YOLO.

I still needed to buy some ingredients, so I headed to the grocery store.  Not just any grocery store, but this really high-end Schmancy grocery store that just opened in my sleepy little neighborhood.  Its products are probably twice the price than they are the nearby Albertsons, but shopping at the Schmancy store makes me feel good about my life.  When I buy healthy products there they are organic and local and fresh. When I buy unhealthy products there they are gourmet and made with real milk and sugar and Madagascar vanilla, so I feel like I'm treating myself to the finer things in life. On the flip side, shopping at Albertsons makes me feel gross under their dull florescent lights, disliked by their unhappy employees, and creeped out by their promo-covered windows.  Why can't we see into the store?!  Why can't your employees see out of it?!  Unsettling.

The fancy grocery store has no reward system, but I give them what little money I have because I don't ever want them to leave my neighborhood.  I would rather be poor and feel like life is beautiful and I am worth a damn than have more money and eat jalapeno poppers that have been sitting under a heat lamp for 3 days only to pay for it with a stomachache and self-hatred an hour later.  I mean, the Schmancy store sells constellation tote bags. CONSTELLATION TOTE BAGS.

Sure, I can't afford one, but just knowing that they exist and Schmancy store chooses to carry them is enough to keep me feeling like the world is not going to hell in a hand basket. Not yet.  Not while constellation tote bags are at my local grocery store.

Sorry, this post has gotten away from me.  So after I paid for my $8 tiny bottle of vanilla and $7 cornstarch and $4 gallon of milk, I went home to make the pie.  By myself.  Unsupervised.  I also bought a bottle of wine to help quell my anxiety.

So I started putting together the dry ingredients, and then read ahead in the recipe.  The pie mixture called for eggs.  Eggs!  How could I forget to buy eggs!  Probably because they are a staple in most people's homes like butter or milk.  You know, normal people who eat breakfast and cook stuff.

I was aggravated, but glad I hadn't discovered this missing ingredient before it was too late.  You see, you have to add half of the heated chocolate mixture to egg yolks and then add that mixture back into the saucepan.  My mom told me it's to keep the yolks from cooking immediately and becoming boiled.  Not having the eggs at that precise moment would be a real issue because you have stir the chocolate mixture constantly once it's on the stove.  It's like cream of wheat: the whole batch goes to shit if it sits still for even 10 seconds.  Well, it does for me.  Lumps will not be tolerated.

I know what you're thinking: back to Schmancy store!  But I was in too foul a mood to sully Schmancy store.  They deserve me at my best, when I'm glad to be alive and love myself without condition.  No, this task called for something baser.  The convenience store down the street.

I'd never been to this store before, but figured this was an opportune time to try it out.  Any convenience store worth its salt should have some eggs.  They might be $10 a carton, but they should have some.  I angrily blew out all my candles, clicked off Vicar of Dibley, headed out to my car and drove down to those neon lights.

I walked in, said the customary Friendly-"Hello"-I'm-Not-Going-To-Rob-You-Greeting to the owners, and walked to the first fridge I saw.  There they were!  Eggs!  5 of them sat in a little tray on a paper towel.  I cradled four of them in my hands and set off to find something else to buy since I was going to use a debit card and felt obligated to spend more than a dollar.  I located some garbage bags and an air freshener before making my way to the counter.  But another fridge caught my eye.  It had butter and milk in it and--you guessed it--egg cartons.  "Whaaaa?  Why are the individual eggs separated from the cartons?"  Because the eggs resting in my arms were from the fridge with sandwiches and fruit: they were hard-boiled.

Can you imagine how I would have reacted once I cracked them open at home?  I can, and it frightens me.

I gently released the individual eggs back into their tray, and bought the carton of eggs.  We were finally ready to get started!

Since the pie filling required constant attention, I decided to make the pie crust first.  My mother's pie crust is like no other.  It's the best I've ever had.  It's flaky and flavorful and made with skim milk and canola oil instead of shortening.  Getting it right was of the utmost importance.  And with only 4 or 5 calls to my mother, it came out just fine!

As I've previously stated, I'm not awesome at math, so when the recipe said the crust should hang "3/4 to 1 inch over the edge" the above is what I came up with.  I love the crust, so I didn't mind extra, but it did mean whenever I took it out of the fridge an avalanche of crust cascaded onto the shelves of my fridge. 

The crust was fairly easy, with few opportunities to screw up.  The pie filling was a different beast.

I had to chop up a buttload of baker's chocolate, and prepare the steps of the recipe that would need to take place during the Constant Stirring.  This included a tablespoon and teaspoon of vanilla (I propped them up on a post-it pad next to the stove), and the egg yolks.  I like separating yolks from whites, for whatever reason.  Segregation can be fun!  But I wasn't paying a lot of attention to the yolks during that process, so when I'd disposed of the whites and looked at the yolks, I freaked out:

"AHHH I'VE BLED INTO MY EGGS!  I must have cut myself on one of the shells!  Where's the cut, where's the gash?  I'll have to separate more yolks!  GROSS."  When no cut appeared on my hands, I realized the red was part of the bowl's painted flower design.  Crisis averted.  Aaaaand imaginary.

Anyway, I couldn't take any more photos because of the Constant Stirring, but here's the pie once the filling was poured in and before it went into the fridge to cool:

It was beyond beautiful.  And all mine.

I don't know if I'll ever reach that stage of cooking where I think, "Hey, I want other people to enjoy this thing that I slaved over."  I'm happy to let my friends enjoy a fruit salad I made, a quesadilla, or even the odd pasta dish.  But this pie?  I ate the whole thing.  And I enjoyed every goddamn bite.  I know what you're thinking: now you're going to make it all the time!  But no I'm not!  It was hardwork, dammit!  Cooking is so overrated.

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Chelsea for making me so desperate for the pie that it tipped the scales from I Would Never Attempt to Recreate This Masterpiece to I Will Make This Pie If It Kills Me.  Another big thank you to my parents who fielded multiple phone calls throughout their Friday evening regarding cornstarch, how many squares of baker's chocolate equals a square (you'd get the confusion if I felt like I should take the time to explain it), forking pie crusts, and the like.  A thank you to you if you read this whole post.  And finally, a thank you to all the amazing cooks who make me food on a regular basis: you're doing God's work and I take you for granted.

If you aren't watching Go On, you are missing out.


I love it so dearly.  I love it more than--dare I say it?--Community.

you (two) are the best thing that has even been mine.

 (Yes, I just used a Taylor Swift lyric for my relationship with my cats, GET OVER IT.)

I have to say (and maybe you knew it from reading my early posts after bringing Norm home), I did not expect Oz and Norm to have this kind of relationship.  That every time I woke up in the morning I would sit up to find the two of them wrapped in each other's furry arms (and legs).

They share everything: litter boxes, food bowls, toys, scratching posts, all of it.  Not in my wildest dreamings did I think they would get along so well.  They groom each other, wrestle, and eat together.  Guys, I lucked out.  And I don't feel like I even did anything to make it happen besides cry a lot and doubt myself, my usual MO for dealing with change, especially change I instigated.

Bringing a second cat into our home and a third into our already super tight duo was impulsive and brash, but the reason I'd waited so long was real.  Oz and I had been through real shit together.  Bed-rest.  Drunken sob-fests.  Fleas.  Baths (his, not mine).  Dentistry (both of us).  THREE Christmas photos.  Spraying spinal fluid.  How could another animal who hadn't experienced all that (and much more) with us, really 'get' our connection?  Clearly I was overthinking it.  Or Norm is just super great (which he definitely is).

I was talking about that with my therapist, about how strange but also wonderful it is to have someone live with Oz and I who was never touched by the medical trauma of 2009 and 2010.  He was born  only 4 months ago!  He's untouched by most tragedy (besides his short term in a shelter), and I intend to keep him that way.  And if Oz's paternal, maternal, and fraternal behavior is any indication, so is he.

"Are they absorbing the story that a male hero's job is to defeat the villain with violence and then collect the reward, which is a woman who has no friends and doesn't speak?"


My friend Jennifer shared this on Facebook and I wanted to post it all over the internet, but I'll settle for here.  I remember when I was first told about The Bechdel Test (I recommend all of her work--I own and love Fun Home) and it blew my mind.  Since then I try to apply it to every movie I see, and tell other people about it.

(And since he used The Wizard of Oz as an example of positive female stories/movies about being a leader and making friends, can we take a second to talk about the trailer for Oz the Great and Powerful?  I should start by saying I know nothing about this movie except what I see in the trailer.  And knowing nothing about something but sharing my opinion anyway is the internet's most noble purpose!

Obviously trailers are made every day that fail to show the true heart or moral or story the film is trying to convey because the trailer is made for getting people in the seats and nothing else.  AND I will never be called a great Wizard of Oz: The Extended Universe fan.  Do I like the movie?  Yes.  Do I enjoy Wicked?  Of course.  Hell, I named my cat Oz (but for the Seth Green character in Buffy). But Return to Oz is literally the stuff of nightmares for me.  Have I talked about it on the blog?  About how the minions are men with wheels on their hands and feet, MEANT TO REPRESENT SQUEAKY HOSPITAL GURNEY WHEELS FROM AN ASYLUM?

I mean for FUCK'S SAKE.

Which brings me to Oz the Great and Powerful.  Why?  Some of my usual reasons: overuse of CGI (that stupid green hand scratching the table is about as scary as Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and stupid jokes (like the Munchkins in the coats).  But also because the whole story seemed to based on a man coming to save a magical world that has three gorgeous witches in it.  Sure they're powerful witches (two of them good!) but they need a guy to save everyone.  And it doesn't hurt if he gets romantic with at least two of them, right?  At least Wicked was about female friendship and not judging everything as simply good or evil! Why aren't we making a movie of that?

It's like Sam Raimi or whoever decided to make this movie thought, "You know what The Wizard of Oz was missing?  A dude who saved everyone.  And babes that dude could do it with.  He has to decide which babe he wants while also saving eveyone!  THAT's a story America wants to see told on the big screen."  Ok, end of rant. Maybe it will be great and I'll edit this to only calling out the people who made the trailer).

DIY With Maryann: Gifts/Art/Stuff-With-Needles-That-Isn't-Drugs

Hey, remember my 2013 resolutions?  Well, I haven't memorized any poetry or put any more permanent art on my body, but I have tried out "cross-stitching/embroidering/needle-pointing/whatever-the-hell-it's-called"!

My dazzling, darling friend Bridget was turning 30, and I spent hours on Etsy trying to find her the perfect gift.  Or gifts, because it's too hard to just pick one thing for her.  Naturally I searched "fox" (have you seen her art?) and this came up:

I was like, "I love it!  I want it!  But I want Bridget to have it more!  How much is it?"  When the price was $5.00, my heart fell.  It's not available to purchase 'made', it's just a pattern.  I had less than a week before Bridget's birthday.  My only experience in this area was attempting a cross-stitching kit that I then quit after about 100 stitches.  And cross-stitching includes easy counting from stitch to stitch!  This is embroidery.  No counting.  Plus, this would be my first real go at it.

Could I use my rules of DIY?

Rules of 'DIY With Maryann'

1) Spend more money than you would if you've just bought something already made by a professional.
2) Do not use any professional tools.
3) Do not consult any professional advice or helpful hints on the internet.
4) Use the most inefficient method possible to complete the project.
5) If the completed project didn't turn out perfect, leave it as is.  You tried.

I had to do #1, but I binned the rest (well, except for #4--it's practically impossible for me to not keep to that rule--it's my nature) because I did want to be really good and look as professional as possible.  This was for Bridget, damn it!  

Step 1) Buy the pattern.

Step 2) Realize the seller does not live in your time zone, so you probably won't get it until the next day.

Step 3) Freak out.

Step 4) Decide to go to the craft store that evening anyway, and using the above picture on your phone, buy as much dark orange-ish, red-ish, brown-ish, white-ish, cream-ish embroidery floss you can find.

Step 5) Buy about 20 different colors.  Just go for it.

Step 6) Find some clearance linen fabric, buy a yard.

Step 7) Go home and hope the pattern arrives...

Step 8) It's the next day, and you received the pattern.  Learn that the original artist only used about 6 or 7 colors of floss, and that even with the TWENTY you picked out, you only bought about 4 of them.  

Step 9)  Realize you should have bought fabric transfer pencils and tracing paper at the craft store, but you didn't.  BECAUSE THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME AND YOU'RE ALREADY A FAILURE.  You somehow thought that a PDF image would magically draw itself on your fabric. Such is your super right-brain logic.

Step 10) Decide to forge ahead.  Print the pattern on a piece of paper, take the shade off a lamp, and hold the paper behind the linen in front of the naked bulb and faintly trace with a pencil.  Curse repeatedly.

Step 11) Considering how free-form the stitches are within the fox, once you have the general proportions of the outline down, you can sort of do your own thing.  Because who wants it to look as awesome as the original?  No one.  Let go of that dream.  Shhhh, just let it go.  Embrace your own pathetic limitations.  As a result, you end up doing about twice the amount of stitching that the pattern uses.  Why?  Because another rule of DIY with Maryann is that too much of a good thing is never too much.

Step 12) Be so stressed about finishing the project that you forget to take 'before' and 'stages of the process' photos.

Step 13) Amazingly finish two days before the birthday party.  Reconsider why you stayed up all night embroidering for last three days.  Oh well, at least you caught up on some West Wing and got to see a few sunrises.

Step 14) Tighten the fabric within the embroidery hoop as much as possible, and then cut the excess fabric off.  It looks like this:

Hey! Not totally terrible, right? It's ok!

Step 15) Realize missing something.  Namely his left cheek past the tail.  You just plum forgot it.

Step 16)  Heeeeey, that's easy to fix!  Just add it.

Step 17) You're done!  It's fine!  No problem!  Except that for each of those extra stitches, you stretched out the fabric.  And you cut off all the excess, which means it's virtually impossible to tighten again.

Step 18) The natural next step: MAKE ANOTHER ONE.

Step 19) This one will be bigger, and use more colors, just for fun.  Minutes before your ride picks you up for the party you're still trying to finish the new one, and at the last minute you have to decide between the two.  Personally speaking, I still liked the first one better, so that's the one Bridget got, even though it's not as tight in the embroidery hoop as I wanted it to be:

Some close-ups:

And here's the one I ended up keeping for myself (that I don't like as much as the first one):

The colors weren't as patterned they were in the first one, instead they feel kind of all over the place and haphazard.  It's easier to tell here:

You may have noticed I also added white tips to the ears (on both versions--it's the original pattern that didn't have them):

I also gave Bridget the smaller one in case she didn't love it so it could take up less room in her home or walls.  But I'm glad I have one too.  It's like those necklaces with the 'best' on piece of a heart and 'friends' on the other.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, I was inspired by a painting she did (for me!) of a fox that looks like Oz curled up:

(I have plans for it next Christmas...)  Her fox had some black tips which I loved, so maybe I'll try that next time!

I Don't Buy It


I don't buy it, says

the scientist.

Replies the frail

and faithful heart,

it's not for sale.

- Wendy Videlock, Poetry, January 2013

Top 5 Favorite Uses of Songs in Recent-ish Movie Trailers


I already did a top 5 movie trailers last February, but this is slightly different. I keep thinking of movie trailers that use songs so well that I overlook any reservation I might have had about seeing the movie.  Which means that the person who picks songs for trailers earned their money.  Wouldn't that be a dream job?  You don't have to score a whole movie, just its trailer.  And you have the challenge of picking a song that encompasses the vibe of the film (or at least the vibe you want the audience to think is in that movie).

I say 'Recent-ish' because not all of these movie trailers were released this year, BUT they are all from the 21st century.  Let's begin!

5. Beautiful Creatures (2013)

Without the song used in this trailer--"Seven Devils" by Florence + The Machine--I would have said, "I'm sorry, Emma Thompson, you know I love you, but this looks horrible."  But the song totally intrigued me, especially in the scene where the lead girl is spinning around that table (?).  Has anyone read this book?  Anyway, "Seven Devils" + Emma Thompson will make me see this movie.  I know there's no guarantee that the song will be used in the film (the immortal curse of Trailer-Songs-That-Make-Me-See-Their-Movies), but the promise of that same dark, other-worldly vibe makes me have foolish hopes for the film's potential excellence.

4. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

At first glance this movie did not appeal to me.  It look like a movie about mental illness and dysfunctional families and REAL LIFE IS ALREADY HARD ENOUGH.  I thought maybe I'd rent it or something.  But then I saw the TV spot that featured "Hey Ho" by The Lumineers (not the video I posted but similar) and I was like, "They belong with each other? And they dance?  I'm in."  I went to see the movie with my friend Jonathan and I told him, "I loved the song in the trailer--why wasn't it in the movie?!"  And he told me it was the Lumineers and then I went home and bought it.  I am infinitely jealous of people who have used it in their weddings.  Assuming that people have. (How could they not?)

3. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Courtney reminded me of this one on my last trailer post and I couldn't believe I'd forgotten it (probably because of the disappointing movie)!  This music + the imagery in the trailer made me think "THIS MOVIE WILL BE UNLIKE ANY OTHER."  And it was...but not in a good way (for instance, why did all the monsters have their voices performed by famous people?  Totally took me out of the film).  The trailer's so good I would tell people to just watch it instead of the film.  I had heard "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire before, but it never moved me as much as it did in this trailer.

2. The Great Gatsby (2013)  

Now, I would have seen this movie if there was a Toby Keith or Nicki Minaj song in its trailer.  It's Baz Effing Luhrman.  And no matter how disappointing Australia was (I still stand by my theory that it would have KILLED as a musical), I will never give up on Baz.  When I first heard he was tackling Gatsby I was skeptical.  But when I saw this trailer I was unbelievably excited and nervous and entranced.  A big part of that is the use of Jack White's cover of U2's "Love is Blindness."  UUUUGGHHGHGHGH so gorgeous and perfect for the dark madness of the story.  I just can't get enough.  Who else was super bummed it got pushed to a summer release?

1. Alfie (2004)

This might seem like an odd choice, but I was OBSESSED with this trailer when it came out.  If you read my music reviews you know I am no huge fan of Mick Jagger or the Stones, but I listen to "Old Habits Die Hard" at least once a week, and it will forever make me think of Jude Law trying to decide if he should give up his womanizing ways and be with Marisa Tomei and her kid.  I still haven't seen the original Alfie with Michael Caine (and I only watched the 2004 version one time because it depressed me), but the song so encapsulates the question: if you looked like Jude Law, wouldn't it be hard to give up philandering?  But if you met an amazing woman, wouldn't you want to stay with her?  Ok, I'm getting rummy.  No matter what, don't get the version of the song with Sheryl Crow singing with Mick.  It's very disappointing.  But the Just-Mick version is fantastic.  I think it's the mandolin?  Love it.

If this isn't love,

Les Mis Thoughts: Round 2

I saw the movie again!  Well, last week. And I was going to do a follow-up post right afterwards, but it got away from me.  Here it is, better late than never.

happy weekend!


"I came here to drink milk and kick ass...and I've just finished my milk": Drinking Milk As An Adult

I belong to a small minority: adults who drink milk as a beverage.

Most kids in America grow up drinking milk. It was important for our development, and gave us important nutrients.  Personally, I grew up with non-fat milk, which I've argued as the greatest of the milks for many, many years.  Most of my friends had whole, 2% or 1% in their homes, but we did not and that was the way we liked it.  Until we tried to make chocolate milk with non-fat and Hershey's syrup.  That was pretty disappointing.

But from what I can tell and have observed among my own friends, people tend to stop drinking milk once they're out of high school.  They drink water or juice or pop or alcohol, but not milk.  I, however, go through about a gallon a week or more.  Not for cooking, not for my coffee, but for drinking.  Straight.

I'm practically incapable of eating any kind of dessert (especially chocolate) without a glass of milk.  When eating pasta or a sandwich or pizza or toast or even a salad, I love a glass of milk.  I think I might have inherited my lactose addiction from my mother, who to this day loves to order a glass of milk at restaurants.  I used to do so as well, but the price most restaurants charge for a small glass of milk is preposterous.  I usually need 2-3 tall glasses of milk per meal.  When I'm home visiting my parents and we're about to sit down to eat, one of us inevitably asks, "Anyone want a glass of milk?"  If I'm pouring, I grab a large mason jar mug for myself, a petite tumbler for my mom, and something in between for my dad or sister (who usually have wine instead).

I was talking about this seemingly rare trait with two members of my book club, Leigh and Susie.  I was so pleased to hear that Susie is also a milk addict, and that she loves to put an empty glass in the freezer for a while before she puts her milk in it, so it's as cold as possible.  I suddenly felt so understood.  (And excited to try it.)

I'm not sure why more adults don't make the milk-drinking transition from childhood to adulthood.  Any theories?  I just know I could never live in Canada (again) because apparently their milk is hideously expensive.  When the apocalypse happens--be it zombie or Jesus--my plan is to commandeer a dairy farm.  Got to keep my nails strong.  When I hear someone is lactose intolerant, or has given up dairy, my first thought is "How are you still alive?  Why do you get out of bed in the morning?  WHY?"  I couldn't do it.

In fact, I think I'm over-tolerant of lactose.  I could probably drink a whole gallon in one sitting and not vomit.  Impressive, aren't I? My name is Maryann, and I drink milk as a beverage every day, and proud of it.

#193: Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton by John Mayall and Eric Clapton

Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton by John Mayall and Eric Clapton (1966)

Favorite Tracks: "All Your Love" and "Another Man" and "Key to Love" and "Ramblin' On My Mind"

Thoughts: This album was fun to listen to because the style of blues varied from track to track. "Another Man" especially stuck out to me with its a capella + harmonica vibe or the horns in "Key to Love."  Loved it.  Will I be adding this album to my library any time soon?  No.  But it was very good.

Is This Better Than Bad?: I could see why some would think so, even if I don't.


There are real tigers in that jungle,
But I walked through it and came out alive.
My skin is tougher now where they clawed me.
Even so, if you have the chance to stay home by the fire,
Take it.

- S.J. Sackett, The Paris Review, no.64 (Winter 1975)

Sometimes I cry because cats. Other times I cry because cat owners.


(Found here--a wonderful blog Holly introduced to me.)

Chocolate Pie (Bonus: A Rant About Math)


I hinted last month about my favorite pie of all time and history and space and knowledge: the chocolate cream pie my mom makes.*

Seeing that photo of the peppermint pie immediately makes my mouth water for chocolate pie. I'm no therapist, but I think that's called transference.

First, my mom chop-shaves the baker's chocolate.

Then we mix it with milk and salt and other stuff in the saucepan, and I stir until the chocolate melts into the mixture and thickens.  Or: until my arm cramps.

Here comes the hard part.  Hard for me to write, not hard to actually do if you're making the pie.  I actually had to get frozen yogurt in order to offset the literal heart ache pictures of this pie gives me.  I MISS IT.

It hurts so good.  (You bake the pie crust ahead of time--again, my mom's special recipe--and pour the cooled pudding mixture into it).  Here's what it should look like if you're on the doorstep of Nirvana:

It's so hard to wait the 2 hours (at least) it has to sit in the fridge, but it's worth it.  This year for Christmas we decided to put a little candy cane on top before sticking it in the fridge.

 It was beautiful.  Until we took it out two hours later and saw that we should have waited to put on the candy cane.  The pudding was still warm and had melted all the candy cane, so all that remained was a coat of red liquid food coloring on top of the pie, making it look bloody.  I did not take a picture of that.  I did take a picture of me covering a piece in whipped cream to hide the bloodiness (and because I fucking love whipped cream).

 *Now I know what you're thinking, why does your mom have to make it?  Surely you could enjoy this pie anytime you wanted because you could make it yourself.  That's where you're wrong.  First of all, my mom does all kinds of special 'less sugar' and 'less fat' shortcuts that keeps the pie from being too rich, but that also means it diverges from the recipe in the book.  I know what you're thinking (again).  Why don't you have her write down the changes for you?  But this still wouldn't help.  You see, for me, recipes that include verbs other than 'chop', 'slice', or 'peel' become an issue.  It's like math.  I was horrible at math.  Horrible.  I use the past tense because since leaving school I strictly use calculators or other people's minds for any math above a 2nd grade level.  Seriously.  Ask any of my friends--every time we get a bill at a restaurant I use a tip calculator on my phone.  Every.  Time.

You see, I could learn some things in math really well.  Like formulas!  Take 'A' and multiply it by 'X' and then divide it by 'B'.  Sweet.  That makes sense.  But when it came to tests or homework or class or life I would accidentally take 'b' and multiply it by 'a' and divide it by 'x.'  And it applies to cooking!  I mix the wrong ingredients before I should have, or I get intimidated by more complex formulas with too many variable like 'use a mixer' or 'quarter' or 'remove meat from bones' or 'beat but do not whip.'

I realize I should have maybe applied myself more in math classes during high school (but how could I when fellow classmates were trying to say that the greatest selling book of all time is the Wiccan-producing Harry Potter series and not the obvious answer THE INERRANT WORD OF GOD), but I did apply myself in cooking class!  Granted I only took one class, and we did stuff like 'what are the differences between types of apples' and less 'how to trim fat' or 'how much flour is too much flour when trying to keep your rolling pin from sticking.'  I mean, when we did our final and were supposed to make a meal in class for the teacher, I did waffles.

My friend Leigh is an amazing cook (and so is Bridget and Holly and Allie and I could go on and on) and whenever you ask her how she made one of her incredible dishes--one of your bucket list items should be to taste her toasted pita turkey wraps/burgers with basil aioli and carmelized onions--she always says, "It's so easy!"  Sure, sure.  Easy like math is for my sister.  Easy like being out of touch with modern culture and society is for the pope.  Easy like eating a whole chocolate cream pie made by my mother would be for me (if I was ever allowed to do so).

Which leads me to a second reason why I can't eat the pie: it's all I would ever eat until I was sick of it and it would lose its magical power as the greatest pie of all time.



When I got home from Christmas at my parents', many of my friends asked me what I got for Christmas.  In the past my answer might have been cool new clothes or electronics or loads and loads of DVDs.  But this year it was: "Cat scratchers and Polish pottery!"  Plus, a new bathrobe.  I know it's hard to believe, but I am still in my twenties.

I love both of the cat scratchers.  One is aesthetically gorgeous and super high quality, and the other one is hilarious (and also high quality).  My brother-in-law picked it out because he knew my love of marine wildlife (mostly just the mammals).  I enjoy watching the cats upon their mighty whale:

Oz especially, since he's bigger, and waaaaaay too stately for a piece of cardboard made to look like a smiling whale.