Friday, March 24, 2006

Dusty rules.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My New Look for Spring

I've been selling lots of stuff on eBay lately (It's one reason, regular readers may have noticed, that I haven't been posting on my blog as often. I've been too busy: making non-stop trips to the post office or carefully editing every word in my listing descriptions as if they're the newly-discovered sonnets in the collection of a long-lost poetic genius or else seeing how many different ways I can photograph an ugly-ass Tommy Hilfiger shirt like I'm the new Annie Liebowitz.)

I'll post more about my not-so-exciting eBay addiction later, but what I wanted to post about is what happened to me today.

I had a few pieces of unwanted, overpriced crap that had sold last night on eBay and I had to bring it all to the post office to mail to the sad people in Omaha and Rice Lake who'd bought them.

I packaged and taped it all up, checked the addresses twice then had some green tea and got ready to go. It seemed pretty bright and chilly, so I grabbed my totally excellent Jackie-O-in-the-80s giant-style Swiss Army sunglasses and my grey Uniqlo hooded sweatshirt Jeff and I got in Japan.

It was really cold outside, so I walked along the street at a pretty fast clip. I was rounding a corner and I almost bumped into this woman. You know when you're in a hurry and going around a corner, cutting pretty close to the side of the building, but then someone else is coming the other way, doing the same thing? Usually you narrowly avoid each other, do that little sidestep dance of politeness as you both try to choose which way to go around the other? You sort of smile or half-laugh or just mumble excuse me and go on your way?

Usually that's what happens. But this woman gasped. In shock. "My Lord," she said. I walked past her and was like, "What? Is there a dead rat on the ground or something?"

I kept walking and then it occured to me: She was stunned by me.

The big glasses. Hooded sweatshirt. Messy hair. A slightly hungover edge from a little dinner party Jeff and I'd given the night. The stack of packages in my hand must have really completed the whole Unabomber look of my ensemble. (And it's Midtown Atlanta, so, yes, by the way, there probably was a dead rat on the ground nearby).

So voila! My new look for Spring. A totally fresh, startling, edgey look I achieve without even trying... And it definitely makes a statement. Haute Couture from the House of Kaczynski. See ya on the runway, suckas!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fever: The Music of Peggy Lee: DVD Review

As famous as Miss Peggy Lee is, I still think that she's always gotten short shrift as an artist. I think her ability to interpret songs and "make them her own" (as they say on American Idol, sorry) and to just put real soul-bearing emotion into the sound waves, well she just surpasses other twentieth century singers whose reputations and myths for one reason or another have become unjustly much larger than hers.

That's one reason why the documentary Fever: The Music of Peggy Lee (2004) was such a disappointment. Documentaries seem like such a straight-forward affair that it's often difficult to appreciate a good one, to understand what exactly it is that makes it good. Watching a not-so-hot doc will definitely make you appreciate the good ones more.

It's hard to say exactly why, but Fever never really gives us a sense of who Peggy Lee was. Actual details and stories from her life are a little thin on the ground, and though there are a few telling gems, they never really coalesce together into the sort of detailed portrait we're looking for. Whole marriages and periods of her life are glossed over.

There are a few good interview subjects with an interesting tidbit or perspective here and there, but it really amounts to a bunch of celebrity admirers saying things like "She was really beautiful. She could sing. She was the greatest." Well, like, tell me something I don't already know. Many of the celebs--who contend they admired her SO much--are interviewed, at their own insistence, I'm sure, in front of posters or wearing caps emblazoned with the name or logo of their latest project. Blech.

I was also shocked to see the directors overdub footage of Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald singing together. We the audience didn't get to hear one note of what must have been an amazing performance: we just hear some celebrity yammering on.

In the end, the film's strength is simply its use of Peggy Lee's recordings. Great to hear and see her sing, as always and there are a couple of neat concert and rehearsal clips, that are among the most telling and interesting pieces in the film.

There's another Peggy Lee documentary that I may check out for comparison's sake. Hopefully they did Miss Lee more justice than this.

FilmStocker Rating: C

Houston's Veggie Burgers: Recipe

When I was a kid, my family used to go to Houston's a lot. (It's a chain in Atlanta. I'm not sure what other cities have them, but they're sort of like an up-scale, more expensive TGI Friday's. I don't think they have much to do with Houston the city and nothing at all to do with Whitney Houston the singer).

I can see now it was a pretty cheesey, overpriced affair but I remember I used to like the restaurant a lot back then. The smells coming from the grill were always really good and smokey, and the warm but dim light from the brass lamps and the bustle and noise of the place just gave it a real particular atmosphere. They built their buildings from the old bricks that were gathered from historic Atlanta buildings that were being torn down. The one we used to go to near Lenox Mall was built from the bricks of the Lowe's Theater in downtown Atlanta where "Gone with the Wind" premiered. They served their cokes in little glass bottles and, unlike a lot of family style places, you at least got real silver and napkins and a tablecloth.

I don't eat meat anymore and I won't go near Coke, so I haven't been inside a Houston's in years. For a long time, the place didn't even have one single thing that a vegetarian could order. But now they've got a veggie burger, and my sister says that it's the best one she's ever had. Maybe if I decide to relive some childhood memories (and have $20 to blow) I'll go to Houston's. But til then I can try out this recipe for Houston's Veggie Burgers my sister sent me.

Houston's Veggie Burgers

4 TB hickory barbecue sauce

1 TB molasses
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 TB oat bran

2 TB onions, finely chopped

1 TB finely chopped canned beets

1 tsp. beet juice

1 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 TB pickled jalapeƱo peppers, chopped

1 egg white

2 tsp. olive oil

4 slices Monterey Jack cheese

1. Stir together barbecue sauce and molasses. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mash beans. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the
barbecue mixture (reserving remaining for brushing)and remaining
ingredients except oil and cheese.

3. Form into four 6 ounce patties.

4. Heat olive oil in a cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat.

5. Grill burgers for 2 minutes on one side.

6. Turn and brush with remaining barbecue/molasses mixture.

7. Top with Monterey Jack and grill for another 2 minutes
or until cheese is melted.

7. Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and mustard on a bun
which has been grilled in butter.