OH…MY…GOD…Tom DeLay is on DANCING WITH THE STARS!!!! That’s obscene. He’s about to be a convicted Republican felon, or he better be. Has the show truly jumped the shark??? I’m going to boycott the program until he’s voted off, which should be the first week, unless he’s some undiscovered twinkle-toes. Just what we need--Fred Astaire with a rap sheet. Yes folks, only in America.
If you’re looking to create a second chapter in your life, and I most certainly am, JULIE & JULIA is not a bad place at all to look for inspiration. Nora Ephron’s adapation of Julia Child’s memoir and Julie Powell’s book about her cooking her way through every recipe in Child’s iconic MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING, is delightful from start to finish. The decision to combine both stories is a smart move. I’m not sure either could sustain itself through a solo movie. And while Child’s life is the more interesting, Julie Powell’s gimmick is not without its charms on the screen. I didn’t like the book. It was a clever idea to spend a year cooking all those wonderful French recipes, but I was appalled at ] her sloppiness, and I never felt that she was respectful enough of the task at hand. Child herself wondered if she could really cook, and some of the recipes turned out as if she couldn’t. I’m still not convinced that cooking is her calling. What has she done since the book was published? I realize that Julie Powell is of a younger generation but it seemed to me that she glommed onto this idea as a way of getting some attention, rather than to seriously explore the culinary terrain that Child and her co-writers so meticulously set down.
But the movie never got bogged down by this. There are moments when Julie’s husband isn’t the only one who wants to strangle his wife. Julie can be whiney and pathetic. But the character is saved by Amy Adams’s lovely, understated performance and Ephron’s sympathy with Powell’s stated mission—to find something in her life that gives her meaning. Of course the moment the story switches over to Julia, Streep and Tucci just slay you with the depth of their characterizations and show a long and happy marriage full of great food, Paris, their utter delight in each other’s company, their sensuality (oh my god, Julia Child loves sex!!!!) and support of one another. But also those scenes when Child is faced with the fact that for whatever reason they cannot have children are very poignant. Streep at first sounds strange and sing-songy, but her affection for this character pushes away any doubts and the performance, which is superb, is another remarkable addition to her imposing body of work. I love the way Ephron and Streep portray the deep affection between Child and her sister. Here are two big, rawboned misfits who find happiness they so richly deserve.
Chris Messina’s as Julie’s long-suffering husband, is fine too. Both Powell and Paul Child’s characters run the risk of seeming spineless against the bigger personalities of their spouses, and it’s to both actor’s credit that they do not.
Some nice period detail, with wonderful interiors (the linens in Nora Ephron movies are always way more expensive than us mere mortals can afford), and for a girl who lives above a pizza parlor in Queens, Julie’s bed sports an awful lot of rich looking quilts and comforters. Ephron has always loved to cook, and there’s a recipe in HEARTBURN for a peach pie that I still love to bake. I hope it continues to do good business. It encourages filmmakers to make more like it.
Attended a triple A baseball game in PGE Park on Friday between the Portland Beavers and the Omaha Royals. The Beavers sucked, though did manage to hold off the visiting team’s ability to score until the seventh inning when their outfield fell apart. There were a couple of bad calls that didn’t go their way (and in truth, the umpire was probably right). Still it was a great way to enjoy a cool, cloudless Friday night in the company of colleagues from PubWest. A local beer cost $8.25 and with a “braut” the snack climbs to $14. At those prices, they could have grilled the damn thing rather than boil it. We’re promised another game later in the season.
Beau and I encountered an adorable black and white cat on our way into the park the other day. At first he was shy and then came nose-to-nose with Beau, who didn’t flinch. They eyed each other, and then separated slowly. I think Beau likes cats—at least he doesn’t get all snarly when he encounters one. His owner, a neighbor across the street came out to claim him. Turns out his name is Apolli and he’s a year and a half years old. Bold as brass. I tell you all this because on Saturday, friends brought me home from an afternoon and evening out. I was showing them the new house, and the kitchen back door was open to the garden. Suddenly in strolls Apolli as though he lived there. He and Beau “investigated” each other and Apolli began to make himself at home. I worried that he had crossed a very busy street to get to my house. But when Beau and I went to tell Apolli’s owner that he was at my house, the house lights were all off. As it was 10:30 PM, I decided to hold the cat at my house and get him home in the morning.
An hour later, I was awoken to a huge crash downstairs. When I got to the dining room, Apolli was on the window sill trying to get out of the open window, but a screen was preventing him. I picked up a small stereo speaker and two votive candles. Nothing was broken and I went back to bed. Beau and were asleep when I was jolted away by Apolli leaping up in my bed. With Beau less than a foot away, I was anticipating a riot between them. Instead Beau turned his head and went back to sleep. Apolli demanded affection. He woke me again having left the bed and returned, moving stealthily under the covers. This time Beau pounced letting Apolli know he wasn’t amused. Apolli emerged on the far side of the covers and batted Beau across the face with his paw. I had to laugh at his audacity. By now it was 5:00 AM and I had to get up. Later Beau and I went out for our morning walk but nobody answered the door when I went to inform them about their cat.
Back at home, Apolli had vanished. I couldn’t find him anywhere—under the beds, in closets, down in the basement, behind the china cabinet. I finally gave up as I was planning an excursion with friends to the Farmer’s Market. When I returned, still no Apolli. I went to talk with his owner. She suggested she come over and try to find him. Back I the house, she began to all for him. At first we heard nothing, then some mewing. Apollis strolled down the stairs and went over to sniff Beau all over again. This cat his a big personality and both Beau and I will certainly welcome him back anytime he cares to visit.
Baked some bread this week, and had dinner guests over last night for the season premiere of MAD MEN, which is certainly as enigmatic and full of fascinating period details as it has been in the past two seasons. One of my guests brought over pork tenderloin brochettes with red peppers and sweet onions, which we grilled. I made another rice salad, and skillet corn with red peppers and basil and caramelized apples with chopped toasted cashews and a touch of whipping cream for dessert (one of my guests is allergic to gluten, so no pie crusts). The apples, which were Gravensteins, came from her back yard. The tomatoes have been fabulous here, very sweet. The markets are up their eyeballs in summer fruit with marionberries, blue berries, really excellent peaches. Now is the corn season with lots of bi-color corn, many varieties of peppers, and zucchini. You gotta cook this stuff the minute you see such gorgeous produce.
I saw Pasilla peppers at the organic market, which I don’t’ recall ever encountering before. These are mildly spicy (really no heat at all) and are dark green beauties. I bought two and decided to stuff them with rice, ground turkey, tomato sauce, onion, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I never cook ground turkey, but this was good, and I felt a bit virtuous avoiding ground pork and/or beef. The leftover turkey mixture made up into a good small meatloaf for sandwiches.
A furniture store I was browsing through sent me to this little hole-in-the wall Lebanese restaurant for lunch today. It’s called Nicholas, and it was fabulous. Everything on the menu from stuffed grape leaves to sausage is made from scratch. The waiter suggested a mezza platter, which included a small aromatic lamb pie, a skewer of grilled lamb, and a plate with humus, kafta (ground beef mixed with parsley, tomatoes and spices, deep fried) on tashziki sauce and tabouli salad, with freshly baked pita to sop up the hummis. It could easily have been shared between two people, and I brought home leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
Studying for my driver’s permit so I can go to driver’s ed classes. And I’ve found bookcases for my cookbooks in the dining room. Before they are delivered next month, it’s now time to paint the kitchen and dining room.
Supposed to get up to 96 by Wednesday—another short heat spell that will require me to fire up the air conditioner tomorrow. Cool weather is promised in time for the weekend.