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So, for our second Family Movie Night, I rented Labyrinth. 1986, David Bowie, the dark Muppets…I remembered LOVING this movie, but really didn’t recall much else about it. One thing I didn’t remember? It’s a musical. Oh yes, several musical numbers, none of which I recalled–Steve was alo very surprised by them. And not pleasantly, I might add. Because they suck in that very special way that David Bowie sometimes does. You expect Ziggy Stardust, and then you get Tin Machine. And the suckitude does not begin and end with the music. It’s hamfisted. Okay, it’s a kids’ movie, but I’m disappointed in High School Senior me for not noticing. What I DID recall was how much I loved Jennifer Connelly’s shirt/vest combo. Big peasanty sleeves, brocade vest, very late 80s chic. Frankly, it still holds up. I still want that shirt. Anyway, heavy metaphor, like in The Phantom Tollbooth. I imagine I found it seriously clever, bless my heart.

It wasn’t all bad. In fact, one part I’d forgotten–the Helping Hands–was really cool. And the Muppets hold up better than I expected them to. I think the kids liked it. Probably not as much as Escape to Witch Mountain, last week’s pick. One thing that really jumped out at me was the pacing. Movies move so much faster now and I find myself getting impatient with the interminable journey. Broken up by bad songs. Move it along, people! I do regret that we weren’t able to get our wedding vows from Bowie’s little speech at the end. “Fear me. Love me. Do as I say and I will be your slave.” That would have been awesome.


We concluded our African cuisine week with Ethiopian food–one of my favorites.  I made two different stews, one lentil, one vegetable based, both out of Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant.   The book suggested serving them together, which is traditional and all, but they were spiced almost identically.  Luckily it was good, but really there could have been some variety.  Kids loved it, including the friend Julianna brought home.  The injera didn’t come out as well as I’d hoped, but it’s tricky stuff.  It’s a flat, spongey pancake used to pick up the food.  The kids were all over that aspect, but my injera wasn’t really up to the task.  I had teff flour, but it wasn’t freshly groud and apparently it loses its natural rising powers or something?  So I used a recipe that called for baking soda and club soda and we ended up scooping our W’et with thin flat Irish soda bread.  I’m a child of the world, baby.

…was Morocco.  We honeymooned in Tenerife, which is off the coast of Morocco, owned by Spain, and largely populated with the English.  But tonight, Moroccan food!  We had a cous-cous, the national dish, made with fake beef chunks from May-Wah instead of lamb.  It was yummy, and fairly well received.  Also had Dukkah, which would have been better if I’d had proper hazelnuts instead of these weird Chilean hazelnuts from Trader Joes.  We finished with Moroccan Date Cake with generous squirts of Whipped Cream.  Right now, I have teff flour in a bowl, hopefully fermenting, so that I can make injera and round off our week with an Ethiopian meal.  I might need to do a week on/week off, though.  Travel, while broadening, is exhausting.

I still miss Marvita. And I do. not.understand Claire. A breastfeeding mother. Leaves her baby for what? 6 weeks? 8 weeks? She’s dedicated enough that we are treated to a shot of her pumping her breast. But she says it would be “cheating my daughter if I didn’t go for my dreams.” I’m going out on a limb here, but I think that baby would rather have her mommy. Just a guess.

what, exactly, IS Anya? She’s like this fairy ice princess thing with a weird accent and no pigment or eyelashes. I keep thinking we’ll get a storyline that might at least tell me why she talks that way (if it was in the casting show, I missed it. Because I wasn’t going to watch this steaming pile anymore) but no. what is she?… Now I KNOW what Dominique is. When will the NAACP step in and stop these shows from casting “the black bitch”? I mean just one season in which there wasn’t one. Sure, there are white bitches every season too, but there are seldom more than 3 black girls and one of them is always a delusional bitch. That, btw is what Dominique is. In case you hadn’t picked that up.

Tyra teaches them to “pose with pain.” Apparently if you’re in a shoot, and you get stuck, the secret is think about “pain, but pretty.” Even more odd, it seems to work. It was nice to have validated my belief that those “high fashion editorial poses” are actually a manifestation of menstrual cramps. Freaky Fairy Queen Anya wins the challenge and gets a one-on-one fashion shoot with Nigel Barker. For the shoot, he puts her naked in a bed. He knows he has the best job, ever.

Back at the henhouse, the other girls are talking about Dominique right in front of her. She asks them to leave so she can sleep and they won’t. Claire is being flat nasty. Aw man, they’re making me feel bad for her. No fair. The show this week is all horrible bitchiness and super sweetness from Aimee. This makes it clear that she and her super secret Mormon underpants (that she is so glad she never had to take off for the camera) will go home.

Oh, Saliesha? In her life as a Cover Girl? She gets to go to castings. ooooo!

The shoot is to portray a type of music. Fatima is heavy metal, Stacey Ann (who?) is house (not Gregory House, although that would be cool), Aimee feebly tries to look R&B. Oh, and Lauren has never heard Britney Spears, so she can’t pose in a pop way Because she has spent her life AVOIDING pop. Ah, to be 20 and defined by music. Dominique looks even more like a man. And Whitney must just be stunning in person b/c they love her soooo much. But she looks like Wynona Judd. Who is (or was) a pretty enough woman, but not a model.

Panel. Actually they liked Lauren’s shot, even though it was edited as a bad shoot. Tyra gives a go at making Katarzyna cry, suggesting that she looked so good in her shot with a short wig that they might actually cut her hair! Katarzyna blanches, but does not give up those delicious, delicious tears. First photo goes to Whitney. Please. It’s down to Aimee and Claire. Aimee knows the gig is up and starts snuffling. Claire–whose photo was “comical, blase, and stoic” huh?–of course gets to stay. Aimee delivers those tears, phew.

Next week: Go-sees! In which, once again, the “fat” girl has to try to squeeze into size 2s when she is easily an 8.

Only in Kenya.  Turns out it’s also a good place for slimy spinach.  We had a bad leg on our journey.  It was bound to happen, I suppose.  I made Kenyan Corn, Bean, and Spinach Mash which really did sound good to me, but…wasn’t.  The spinach was slimy.  Slimy is not an acceptable food texture.  The Garbanzo stew was good, but I didn’t make enough, so I plumped it out by stirring up left over rice and veggie sausage.  The mango snow for dessert was good, but since it is made of mangoes and cream, I’m not surprised.

This morning, when she awoke, Lily said to me “I dreamed that I was at Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends [TV show] and there was a guy that turned into a giant vulva.”

Me, sure I had heard wrong, r’s and a’s are hard to distinguish: Revolver?

Lily: Nooo [implied “you idiot”], a VULVA.  And the giant vulva was chasing a spider.

oKAY.  And she referred to the Vulva as “he.”  So make of it what you will.

For those of you with an unnatural interest in what I eat, I’ve started a semi-blog about my breakfast smoothies.  Check it:  Ugli Shax

…well, no it isn’t. It’s Africa still. We did the Western Region today, blithely ignoring Ellen’s suggestion that we eat the groundnut stew (I think it may show up later in the week, and I can have moderate amounts of peanut). We had Nigerian Okra and Plantain stew, which suprised me by actually being good. Everyone liked it. The Futari, which I thought was going to be the big hit–I remembered getting it at Boma (the only place at Disney I’d care to go to again)and loving it–was not especially well liked. Maybe a bad recipe. Also beloved were the Algerian Green Beans with Almonds, but really what’s not to like about oily garlicky green beans? We finished with Ginger Drink, which was okay, but will really sing later tonight when I add mint and rum to it…

The next two nights are 4-H nights, which means I don’t get home until nearly 7. Crockpot dishes from Kenya and Morocco!

And Laura, you answered your own boomerang question before I could get there, but I love Raymond Loewy and if I could go back in time I would study industrial design instead of American Studies and Psychology. Just as likely, I will go back in time and visit the 1939 World’s Fair and see his work there….sigh.

We’re back on our culinary adventure! If you’re just joining us, we began here. We hadn’t taken any more food trips since our actual trip to Aruba, and then I started the Eat 2 Live thing and hadn’t quite sorted out how to cook for that, and then I was just…lazy. But I’ve been in a rut, I’m through the initial 6 weeks of E2L and I think I can live a little at dinner as long as my other two meals are Spartan enough. So today, Lily drew Africa out of the cup. Whee! Off we go. So I sat down with my copy of “Global Vegetarian Cooking” that I got at the Fair Trade Fair (how crunchy am I?) and the internets and planned out our week. No spoilers. So you just get tonight.

We focused on southern Africa and started with a banana soup from Malawi, a papaya soup from South Africa, Vegetables in Coconut Milk from Congo, Coconut Rice from Mozambique, and Spicy Potatoes from Tanzania. You’re thinking, “Damn, woman, that is a lot of food.” And you are right. It is too much food. The potatoes were recalcitrant in their cooking and so came out last. They were picked at. Steve and I liked it all, even if it was a bit sweet. The banana soup was gobbled by Julianna, tolerated by Lily, and reviled by banana-hating Ben. Papaya soup was gobbled by Ben, eaten a bit by Julianna, and avoided by Lily. The veg were given “two thumbs up!!” by Julianna, disliked by Ben, hated by Lily. Rice was beloved by Ben, eaten by Julianna, picked at by a sullen Lily who was beginning to suspect a serious lack of mac and cheese in this endeavor. Potatoes, as mentioned, barely got noticed. I may die of guilt throwing away food meant to be from a place with no food. But they aren’t going to get better overnight.

Drawing the map of Africa was another of those “Huh, what do you know, so that’s where that is” experiences, as well as a “there are two Congos?” one. Steve said, “yeah, nasty civil war in the 70s, don’t you remember?” Yeah. I don’t think I had much of an African history background. But given that it IS in Africa, I imagine it was hair-curlingly grisly and vicious. Did you know there is an Equitorial Guinea as well as a Guinea? And neither of them is home to guinea pigs? Well, I knew the second part. I also did not realize that Swaziland (which I only know ANYTHING about b/c my beloved Richard E. Grant is from there) and Lesotho were islands in South Africa. See? I don’t just get an utterly filthy kitchen with every dish I own dirtied! I get to know new things!

Speaking of my dishes, Laura asked for a pic of the happy plates. I reassured her about the potential for lovely basements in the comments section, but I don’t think I can stick a photo in there. So here they are:

happy plates

These are just the wee versions, I have full sized plates, too. The mosaic-y bowl is just from the Dollar store, they matched and this lot was sadly lacking in cereal sized bowls. Apparently people in early 1960s could eat only the tiniest amount of Frosted Flakes. Otherwise they’d blow right out of their slim suits and shirtwaist dresses.

Tomorrow, we head for West Africa!

It seems that future me went back to the past to trick present me into tidying the basement. I hate her. Me. Because it’s turning all springy and such, I wanted to fish my happy plates out of the basement. I have a conglomeration of 50s/60s pop dishes, some from Aunt Theresa (thanks! They still rock!), some from junk stores. They have boomerangs and poppy stars and stuff. They are happy. So I packed up the old wedding stoneware (Mikasa Arabella. Yeah, I know, you have it too. And your sister has the one with the fruit), and ventured down to find my plates. I brought up the box marked China, hoped it wasn’t actually a portal to the other side of the world, and opened it up. I unwrapped a lot of my fun stuff, but was missing the plates. Where could they be? They were not in the box marked “funky dishes” b/c that contains the decidedly unfunky but rather beautiful dark brown stoneware from Grandma. Then the looking commenced. And in order to look, I had to move things and in moving them, I started putting them where they actually should be instead of at the bottom of the stairs (if you saw my basement, you’d understand. You want to ditch your load and get back into the light). And before I knew it, I was cleaning. On a beautiful spring day, I was in my basement–in which skeletal hands and rusty chains would not be out of place–sorting out of season clothes. Bleh. And then? The plates were right on the shelf near the steps, all stacked up and waiting to go upstairs. Stupid future me..

This week on Top Model (I’ll just stop pretending I’m not utterly commited and sticking to the bitter end. I’m fooling no one): The first Phone Phight of the Cycle, posing with drag queens, drippy paint photos! There are still so many girls that I’m periodically surprised to see some of them. Who’s that? Oh, it’s another girl with a bad weave. They just await the day of their elimination to get a storyline in the editing. Poor dears.

In the pre-Tyra Mail period, we get to see that Marvita is awesome and Stacy Ann (who?) called Whitney fat and thus should be eliminated. Cruel fate. Oh, and a note to Dominique: people who speak of themselves in the third person do not win. Deana knows this.

Tyra Mail says they have to learn about “the three C’s.” Hmmm…Cattiness, Cluelessness, and mmm, I dunno, Crack Whores. Oh, no, it’s Comercial, Couture, Catalog, as taught to them by the ubiquitous Benny Ninja. Hate. Dominique (I think I should refer to her as She, since she leaves all these personal pronouns unused…) says, How many people can say they’ve met the inventor of the Vogue?” Well, lots. He’s been on every season of this show since, like cycle 4 and he keeps popping up on other reality shows, annoying the crap out of me. This time he’s paired with Vendela, host of Scandanavia’s Next Top Model (seriously? Aren’t they all models? Lord, how tall and blonde do you have to be to cut it there?) and generally stunning person. They show the girls how to do the three poses–commercial (smile and look pretty), catalog (smile and look just the teensiest bit less pretty), and couture (grimace and double over with cramps).

Back at the ranch, we are treated to the phone drama. The Third Person gets mad at Whitney for not coming and getting her for her phone time. Then Whitney rolls her eyes and twitches her head. This is deemed disrespectful. That paired with the “You’re uneducated” (ladies: you’re all idiots, please don’t fight about it)causes She to say that Whitney is a rascist toward everyone and anyone which doesn’t even make sense. Tragically, Whitney’s defense is “My best friend is black. ” So She tells Whitey that she looks like she’s 30 and acts like she’s 12. oof. But Whitney gets the match point: “Where’s the saran wrap?” is the best argument ender, ever.

It’s a mutherfuckin pose off! The girls head to Brooklyn to find the House of Ninja. See, it had been the Rent Controlled Apartment of Ninja, but the family kept growing, so they had to move out to the boroughs to buy a house. The ladies, they are limber. Ah, youth. Claire wins the posing challenge and her team gets to go to the swag tent. Marvita: My team won, but really I kept losing points for them, so I’m just freeloadin’. Did I mention I love her? They get lots of cool designer crap, but Claire gets a trip to Bora Bora. which I suspect is somewhere warm.

Commercial break for My Life as Cover Girl. Oh SWEET, when Saleisha was in Baltimore? She got to go to the Cover Girl factory! Actual quote: “Cool, a barcode!” They even “let” her make stuff. Then we cut to a real CG ad with an actual actress, Drew Barrymore.

So the photo shoot is an imaginary jewelry shoot in which the girls have bright make up and cellophane head gear and paint dripping down their faces. And it’s still less odd than meat panties. Marvita saying, “I like it here, it’s a nice place to be” is so clearly the sign that she’s going home. It breaks the heart, it does. We are treated to a full-body shot of Fatima in a tube top and low-rise pants. Her body absolutely gave me the willies. Feed her. Her mother did not flee Somolia to have her children starve on TV.

Panel. Tyra’s paint shot looks like a Culture Club album cover. Vendela is our guest judge and cleans up very nicely. Paulina is using all the eyeliner in the world. Saliesha will have to make more.Fatima has armpit hair! the horror! She is instructed to shave and bathe. Which will likely reduce her weight even more. I imagine hair and grime was the only thing keeping her earth-bound. The photos are stupid, as you might expect. Not as bad as a meat thong, though. But Marvita, bless her has a photo that looks like “National Geographic meets French Vogue” and that just can’t be good.

Vendala. That girl has what it takes, she’s going places.

First photo, Stacey Ann. who? Is she in this show? Oh right, the one with the Minnie Mouse voice.

And, of course, we’re down to Whitney and Marvita, shocking no one. They seriously don’t even try with the editing any more. Aw, poor Marvita. I mean, I knew early on, but I hoped. I did. She never belonged there. And she should have cut Tyra for the Horse Mane Hair Weave, but she’s just awesome. Someone give her an acting gig! I really do hope she gets somewhere. And lord knows I usually don’t care.

birthday schmoo!

Julianna turned 11 yesterday. Holy hand grenade of Antioch. There she is, in the birthday hat, all ready to go to school and listen to countless people say, “Oh, is it your birthday?” It’s a good exercise for her to have to come up with responses. “Um, no…why do you ask?” “Nah, I just like to put cake on my head when my ears get cold.” Mostly, I’m just delighted that she’s inherited my need for attention and willingness to do any stupid thing to get it. Like wear cake on her head.

She had a slumber party Saturday night. Our house is gloriously limiting in these situations. No den or family room means you can only invite as many kids as can fit in your room. And small rooms mean that number is going to be no more than 4. And even at that, kid #4 better be short. So they all brought old T shirts and they had a “T party” cutting up and altering their shirts. And, in all but one case, ultimately throwing them away. Most of them ended up looking like dollar store Peter Pan tunics. Nonetheless, they had fun at it. And it was quiet.

t shirt destruction

Then came the pizza and then presents and then cake. For some reason, Julianna decided she wanted a brain cake. No problem!

brain cake

I helped them to put henna designs on their feet (after getting parental approval!) and they watched “Herbie the Love Bug” while it dried. I wasn’t sure they’d like it, the pacing in movies has gotten so much faster, but they were shouting “Go 53! Go 53!” and, of course, punching the crap out of each other. Hooray for Punch Buggy! I was glad they liked it. As was Alice:

Herbie Macbook

They went to bed and were fairly quiet and were up the next morning for pancakes. Easy peasy.

Yesterday, for her actual birthday, I cleaned Julianna’s room (Steve: Way to go, reinforcing the notion that rooms need to be cleaned once a year. Me: Whether they need it or not.) and got her a cool mirror at Goodwill. She said that it was one of the best days ever, waking up to a pot of purple tulips and a bag of Werther’s Originals, having a good day at school, going out for custard, and coming home to a clean room. Oh, and pesto for dinner, followed by creme puffs. Yeah, that DOES sound like a pretty good day.


March 2008
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