Ba-ba-doo-BANG (The One for Father’s Day)

I don’t want to write about my dad, even though Father’s Day is coming this week, and that’s a natural topic for my blog. Circumstances in recent weeks have thrust this topic into my lap, but I am resisting full force. In a prompt from my writing class, we were asked to pick the fourteenth photo in a randomly chosen album. The fourteenth photo: there we are in North Carolina on a drive from Detroit to Miami in 1973, but my first thought was, I don’t want to write about me and my dad.

Later that day, my wise friend Nancy saw a set of essays about famous fathers on http://myoldman.org/. With praise towards my weekly entries, she wondered what I would say about my parents instead of writing about food or art. How can you refuse a friend? Especially when they flatter you?

I didn’t know my dad well enough. That’s my problem.

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The World at our Fingertips

This week’s post was inspired by a sentence from the excellent essay 13 Right Now. This is what it’s like to grow up in the age of likes, lols and longing by Jessica Contrera, Washington Post:

The whole world is at her fingertips and it has been for years.

I read this book last year where the hero and villain chased each other across several countries to acquire secret technology that would rule the world. It had jet planes and speedboats and was written in the late nineties. The secret technology was described as the ability to connect all the world’s encyclopedias so that someone could type a word into a computer and learn everything there is to know about that thing. It would make education available to all, raise the standard of living for the poor, equalize disparate classes, and topple secret governments. The Internet.

060816 flyingfingers

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Cinderella Meets Katniss

[Gentle Readers: This week’s blog is a short work of fiction for a rare change. I have started a writing class and hope to provide the next new and improved normal nonfiction entries, after receiving instruction and feedback. Meanwhile, one class suggestion for this week was to reimagine a fairy tale, and I thought you might get a kick out of my submission. As always, I welcome YOUR feedback as well. ]

The Grand Ball was the big event of the season, a chance for the duchesses and baronesses to display their most extravagant gowns and jewels to trap the eye of eligible bachelors. Silk brocade swished through the air as the dancers whirled through the intricate steps of Empire waltzes. The music swelled as the violins approached a crescendo, propelling the whirling dancers into their fastest turns, and drowning out the sound as the poisoned darts hit home.

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The World Must Be Peopled!

Can you fall in love under duress? If you lived in a world that required you to mate for life OR ELSE – could you do it? How would you do it? Would you try to fake it? Could you be convincing? What if you had to fool the Spousal Police?

Now the fact that you will turn into an animal if you fail to fall in love with someone during your stay here is not something that should upset you or get you down.
– Hotel Manager, The Lobster

There is something intriguing and dare I say it? fun about a movie in the alternate world, dystopian as the critics call it, the world that seems like our own but is just Off. The Lobster, a 2015 movie now making the arthouse cinema rounds is one of the most interesting movies I’ve seen in a long time. It takes place in a society like our own, with modern dress, skyscrapers, freeways, and hotel swimming pools very much like our own. But it becomes quickly obvious that there is something different going on.  In that sense it’s more like a puzzle, like The Sixth Sense or Fahrenheit 451 or the Memento. Something is different.

20160524lOBSTER3The first part has to establish that difference and to give it shape. We don’t need to know why the rules are this way, not at the outset, but we need to know what they are. The setup in The Lobster is that the adults without mates are required to become “guests” at a hotel. They must couple up within 45 days or they will be transformed – surgically, and the less said about those gory details the better– into the animal of their choice. The couples must be validated to the satisfaction of the authorities, so you can’t just pick somebody. Tests must be passed. When the guests are given shotguns to help reinforce the rules, the consequences of failure are clarified. Continue reading “The World Must Be Peopled!”

The Magic Flourish at Dinner

Since Sandra Boynton has pointed out it is National Cheese Soufflé day, I thought it would be fitting to provide some words of inspiration on one of my favorite dishes to cook. Inspiration is the proper word, since souffler is French for to blow or to breathe, and one definition of it is a “low murmuring sound heard through a stethoscope.” Inspired, meaning to inhale and breathe in; creating, we exhale, breathe out, and offer our culinary creations to the world. The execution of a soufflé is to blow air into a pancake; to take the familiar –eggs, milk, butter, and flour – and transform them into a light puffy honeycombed framework on which to hang flavors of tangy cheddar, mysterious dark chocolate, or exotic Grand Marnier or Meyer Lemon.

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Fond Memories
The first soufflé I ever made was with my dad’s second wife, Mary. She was experimenting with the cookbook and wanted a challenge. She was very nervous because making a soufflé has always had a reputation for being complicated and easy to ruin. I remember us checking the cookbook every five minutes or so, hesitating at choosing which pans to use, peering over the mixture we stirred in the skillet, and later chewing our fingernails watching it in the oven.

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