for most people, running seven miles several times a week means getting to eat whatever you want, full stop. as i have the metabolism of a ball python (thanks, nature!), i'm not so lucky - but i do let the exercise justify the preparation of ludicrous special occasion food on non-holidays.

cheese ball (xmas edition)

ye olde five-months-'til-christmas-eve cheese ball*

- 4 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 4-5 oz. cream cheese (let it sit out for a bit)
- 1/4 c mayonnaise
- 1/4 c chopped scallions (or chives, but i like scallions)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- tabasco to taste
- pimentón (smoked paprika)
- cayenne pepper

combine everything but the pimentón and the cayenne in a large bowl; when the cheese mixture is well blended, form it into a ball (i tend to wear latex gloves if they're handy; this is a fragrant recipe, and the spices will stain your hands). throw the ball in the refrigerator to harden back up a bit, then roll it on a plate that's been dusted with the spices.

WASPy holiday grub in july? reader, i served it.

*also known as the two-weeks-'til-meg's-wedding cheese ball - this recipe first improved my life at her bridal shower this past fall.


i never did mention how the raymond chandler "what's yr take on cassavetes"* fact-finding mission wound up, did i? i finished tom hiney's biography a month ago and decided that i do like chandler...and don't like hiney. my impression of chandler is that he was maladjusted and mostly well-intentioned rather than hateful; he spent most of his life performing chivalrous acts for and/or proposing to various women (his mother, then his invalid wife, cissy, then personal assistants and agents and anyone who'd stand still long enough, really). the rest of the time he was drinking: at one point in his later years, as a friend recalled, he had crate upon crate of rose's lime juice (for gimlets) delivered directly to his house in la jolla.** he was devoted to his cat, too, and my feelings about that kind of man are well-documented.

robert moss's brilliant review of hiney's work plucks apart nearly all of his hunks of questionable research; if you're a chandler nut or the sort who gets off on muscular fact-checking (cough), it's worth a read. to make a long complaint short, characters' quotes are repeatedly handled like direct observations from chandler, and that's more than a little shady - and hiney doesn't appear to have read the novels very carefully (he flubs all kinds of plot points in his summaries***). he did include chandler's notes for a cookbook, however -
It will have such headlines as:
- and i appreciate that.

speaking of chandler quotes, another handful:
(from the high window, 1942)

He lifted his hands off the desk and made a steeple of the fingers, like an old time family lawyer getting set for a little tangled grammar.

(from the lady in the lake, 1943)

I separated another dollar from my exhibit and it went into his pocket with a sound like caterpillars fighting.

The self-operating elevator was carpeted in red plush. It had an elderly perfume in it, like three widows drinking tea.

(from the little sister, 1949)

"Will you make love to me tonight?" she asked softly.
"That again is an open question. Probably not."
"You would not waste your time. I am not one of these synthetic blondes with a skin you could strike matches on. These ex-laundresses with large bony hands and sharp knees and unsuccessful breasts."
god he's good.

*"genius! misogynist! / messiah! alcoholic!"

**i would probably have to maintain a near-constant state of inebriation to live in la jolla as well, but that's neither here nor there.

***at one point he directly contradicted what i'd just read; i did a bit of checking around and realized he was summarizing a film version of one of the novels instead of the novel itself. yikes.


my feet and firefly hunting in NJ

hey, a real weekend! no travel, no cash-hemorrhaging, no need to put on pants - so good, and so timely. i failed to get any pictures of the fireflies tripping across patrick and megan's wild backyard at dusk on saturday (above), as i got so excited every time i saw one that i'd jump up and down and spoil the shot - but i respect their right to remain mysterious. running through the ivy was great fun either way.

if you ask me, the dress of the summer is this baby; $33, and versatile enough (in black) that i've worn it for a bachelor/bachelorette party, work (umpteen times), and an afternoon of grilling in jersey. hooray for cost-effective LBDs.

my new favorite foodstuff, in turn, is the pico de gallo i made for our grillstravaganza:

- 5 vine tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 c red onion, minced
- handful of chopped cilantro
- handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 habanero, seeded and minced
- pinch of sea salt

i added an ill-advised second splattering of sea salt that turned the mix into brine for a few hours; after a few pinches of sugar and a night in the refrigerator to think about what it had done, however, the pico was once again fit for respectable society. not for the faint of heart (especially if served immediately), but a lovely respite from the east coast's eleventy-two bland prepared salsas.

what are you wearing this summer, folks - and what are you eating? have you noticed the omnipresence of bright pink toenail polish in your corner of the world? it's an epidemic out here, man.

07.17.09: the beautiful game

101 in 1001 {II}: 031 go to an MLS game [completed 07.16.09]

becks girls

sign of the night at the LA galaxy / new york red bulls game?

101 in 1001 {II}: 079 see david beckham play soccer [completed 07.16.09]

the beautiful game

MOMS FOR BECKHAM. (gratuitous zoom here.)


happy bastille day, folks. for reasons that could only be explained in the most convoluted way, i need to create a hierarchy of cultural figures named david whose surnames begin with b. thus far it's been determined that david beckham trumps david blaine, for instance, and bowie is tops, of course, so we've got

david bowie
david beckham
david blaine

...but where does david boreanaz go? what about the amazing version of david boreanaz from "smile time," the angel episode in which he turns into a puppet? and david brancaccio - i just don't know. i need judgment calls, and i need davids. help a sister out, would you?

07.09.09: time for pie

(note: jane austen, zombie, and goat selection spoilers herein)

pride and prejudice and zombies

my only significant quibble (if there's such a thing) with (jane austen and) seth grahame-smith's pride and prejudice and zombies is that, in the second to last illustration, elizabeth is pinned to the dojo floor by a dagger with lady catherine de bourgh's ninjas in lifeless heaps on either side of her; according to the text, the ninjas aren't dispatched until elizabeth escapes while lady catherine is admiring one of the bennets' antique katanas. a little sloppy, guys.

there are also a handful of inconsistencies in the official name of the irish seminary (kilkenny? kilkerry?) for crippled clergymen to which wickham retires with lydia after mr. darcy "beats him lame" - but these things slip through the cracks every now and again, and the book is great fun either way. marjorie garber told my austen class (long ago when the earth was flat, in the summer of '98) that clueless was her favorite version of emma; along, well, sort of analogous lines, i think this might be my favorite pride and prejudice (though my zombie bias is strong, for sure: i always snicker a bit when someone offers to send me their headshot here at the magazine). a few best-loved gobbets:
(chapter 1)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

(chapter 7)

"Can I have the carriage?" said Jane.
"No, my dear, you had better go on horseback, because it seems likely to rain; and they spring so easily from the wet earth."

(chapter 51)

Elizabeth looked expressively at Lydia; but she, who never heard nor saw anything of which she chose to be insensible, gaily continued, "Oh! Mamma, do the people hereabouts know I am married to-day? I was afraid they might not; and I passed William Goulding, whose curricle had been overturned and horses devoured, so I was determined he should know it, and so I let down the side-glass next to him, and took off my glove, and let my hand just rest upon the window-frame, so that he might see the ring, and then I bowed and smiled like anything. He yelled after us - something about his son being trapped; but oh! Mamma, I am sure he saw the ring. Oh! Think of how the news will spread!"
in news of the living, yesterday was joe's birthday (and our little cat got to come home, hooray!). it was time for pie.

[at a midtown art store checkout counter]

1: so if you were giving someone a birthday cake...would you put this goat on it, or this goat? [places figurines on counter]
2: well, what kind of cake is it? chocolate?
1: actually, it's really a birthday pie. a key lime pie, ten inches.
2: that's small. that one... [gestures to mountain goat]
1: ...could overshadow the pie?
2: yeah. and key lime, so it's green...with brown and white...yeah, the small one. with the little beard.
1: great!

how are you, internets? what news of your undead, your betrothals and pie-times?

07.02.09: from jubilate agno
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.*
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.

(christopher smart, c. 1758-1763)

*i know, i know, but it was the eighteenth century (in a madhouse). i still think christopher smart is great.