Sunday, November 27, 2022

Glass Noodle Goody: A Fast and Easy Dish

I came home wanting a fast meal--and what's faster than glass noodles (about five minutes in boiling water) combined with broccoli florets?

But they need flavor. That's easy, too. All you need (for a single serving) is a 250 ml pack of coconut milk (about 9 oz) and a spoonful of Tom Yum hot and sour paste, or red curry paste, or, if you're short on all, some grated ginger and crushed garlic, along with cumin and turmeric. I always put in garlic and ginger anyway.

Instructions: 

Wash broccoli, cut off florets, rinse and drain in collander. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil; add a teaspoon of salt.

In a smaller pot, heat a little peanut oil and add grated ginger (a piece about half the size of your thumb) and crushed garlic (to taste, but I always think lots is good).

When the garlic and ginger start to smell good, add the coconut milk and at least a tablespoon of the Tom Yum paste. Stir and turn down heat.

Add the glass noodles and the broccoli to the water; boil about five minutes. Rinse in cold water (keeps the broccoli green and prevents the noodles from sticking) Pour on the coconut Tom Yum sauce. Consume with a glass of red wine.

 


 

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Brace-for-Your-Booster Meatloaf

This one's a hybrid--part meatloaf, part moussaka. If you're going for a flu shot and a COVID booster, you could use some iron and protein. You'll get it here. 

 


 

Ingredients:

About a kilo of mixed ground beef and pork--I got the "bio" or organic kind

Two eggplants

Baby tomatoes

Plenty of garlic

Red onions

Olive oil

Turkish Sheep cheese (comes in a can--big disks) or Feta. Use one large piece.

Tomato paste

Any tomato sauce mix you like

Bechamel Sause (packaged is fine)

Parmesan Cheese

Two eggs

(1) Slice (in thin slices) and salt the eggplant. Leave it for around twenty minutes; blot off the salt and rinse. Drain.

(2) Toss in olive oil and throw in a few slices of garlic; arrange in a big pan and bake for about 30 minutes, till soft. Turn a few times--if they look too dry, add a little water. 

(3) Stir fry two or three red onions (three small ones), and some pressed garlic in olive oil. Set aside.

 (4) In a large Pyrex bowl, beat the eggs. Add the meat, tomato paste, tomato sauce, onions, and mix well. Remove to a plate.

(5) Lay half the baked eggplant at the bottom of the pyrex dish. Add about half the Feta. Layer on half the meat. Repeat.

(6) Pour on the Bechamel sauce.

(7) Add grated Parmesan on top.

(8) Bake for about an hour at 200º Celsius (About 390ºF) 

(9) Consume with a glass of red wine.

 



Sunday, October 16, 2022

Fantastic Fall Recipe (and fairly easy)

 'Tis the season for gourds and pumpkins and squash. Butternut hull squash are everywhere. These things: 

https://i2.wp.com/www.gardenopoliscleveland.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Squash-from-last-year-ready-for-pumpkin-pie.jpgThe good news is they're delicious. The bad news is you have to cut off the stem and the end, peel them, slice them into halves or quarters, remove the seeds in the bulgy part, and then slice them into smallish pieces. From then on, things get easier: just toss in a bowl with pressed garlic (lots!), cumin, turmeric, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper. Spread out in a large pan so that each piece has its own little space in which to bask in the heat. Set aside. 

Next, take three (or more) chicken thighs you've salted and peppered and left in the fridge overnight. The leaving them in the fridge part is not absolutely essential but results in crispier skin when the chicken is baked. Figure out which veggie might go bad if you don't use it soon. I had some perfect cauliflower that would have been marginally less perfect the next day. Rinsed it, cut it, tossed it in olive oil and lemon juice; added a few sliced red onions.  But I can see the recipe with bell peppers instead. Or zucchini.

In a largish pan, place the cauliflower mix with the chicken on top. Put the pan of chicken on the top shelf of your oven, which you've meanwhile pre-heated to about 200º Celsius (about 390ºF). Place the pan of sliced butternut squash on the lower shelf. Both dishes need about an hour; you can baste the chicken in its own juice and flip the thighs over towards the end. Stir the squash, too. The squash may be done a bit sooner; you can switch the chicken to the lower shelf if it looks very done.

The dishes will look like this before you put them in: 


I was too hungry to take a picture when they came out. Served all over Jasmine rice made, naturally, in the rice cooker. And my son said it was "so delicious, Mom!"

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Nikolas Cruz and Death

He's locked up. He will never come out. But many of the parents whose children he killed want him dead. He is said by the prosecution to be a psychopath. 

This video of him with his brother on the day of the shooting tells me he is an argument for gun control. Tells me felt impulses and had no more ability to check them than a two-year-old. Tells me he feels despair:


The American idea of the penitentiary--for the Puritans, the place of penitence--is based on the idea that suffering as a sinner brings transcendence. He does seem to be suffering. If he can feel regret, and use what voice he has to condemn his crime, could the dream of gun control become real?


Monday, October 10, 2022

Cheap and Easy Beef Stew

I got this from a lovely essay by Nigel Slater called "In a Stew." He's written more here: https://www.foodandthefabulous.com/food/stew-of-onions-beer-beef-a-twist-on-nigel-slaters-recipe/

I decided to do the basic British version, the one he unflatteringly says smells of old people. Zapped it up a bit. But so easy. Here are ingredients and suggestions:

Mr. Slater says you just need hunks of beef, onions, parsnips, carrots, a bay leaf, (or a few, says I) and water (around 15 oz). You dump everything in a big pyrex bowl and stick it in the oven and let it "do its thing" for four hours, he says.

OK. Started exactly as he suggested:



He didn't say what temperature, but I started at 200ºC (around 392ºF) and I let it go for an hour; then I opened the lid and turned stuff around. Turned the temperature down to around 150ºc. (302ºF). He said four hours but I had the feeling an hour would have been enough. I also had the feeling it would have been okay to use a bottled vegetable broth. 

Finally, after around an hour and a half hours, I added "a splodge" of red wine. Around five ounces, that is, and I stirred. 

On the side, I boiled potatoes and Brussels Sprouts: 

I decided two hours was plenty:


Really, this was okay, but you don't need four hours. Probably an hour or so at 200º or so, celsius, that is. Anyway, I dumped all on my plate:


The whole dinner proved quite tasty with a glass of red wine (pictured here) while gazing at some lovely roses that came my way. I added lots of salt and pepper. A bit of butter on the potatoes and Brussels Sprouts.

Hope you all enjoy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Filling Out Your Absentee Ballot Even Though the Process Sends You into A Tailspin

There's the tiny print on the normally large form. It's impossible to fill out those very small ovals without a miniscule smear or dot getting over the line.

Disqualified? Anyone's guess. For the record, in case my vote is never recorded because of that tiny smear or dot going over the line, here's my ballot. For posterity: 

Then there's the placing of the ballot inside the "Security Envelope for Special Federal Voter" which is another sheet of paper which must be folded very precisely:


All of this goes inside another precisely folded sheet of paper, which one is supposed to tape shut (meanwhile, the German post office almost refused the last one because it wasn't in an envelope.) When I sent the next in an envelope, I'd broken some rule and had to send in an official "cure," and here's a piece of that: 


This is all starting to look as complicated as German bureaucracy. Although it isn't. Not quite. 

Sending my ballot today . . . I guess it will get there before November 8. All hail to he/she/they who process this.

When this ballot's in the mailbox, I get to go to the gym. That's what prevents tailspins of all kinds.


Goodbye, little ballot, and Godspeed!

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Basic, Betty-Crockerish Delish: A Fish Recipe

This is creamy comfort food, and healthy, too!

You will need:

Mayonnaise

A good Dijon mustard, the kind riddled with little mustard seeds (I used a Maille á l'Ancienne that I believe I actually bought in Dijon, but anything will do. Pommery is fine)

A smooth creamy sharp mustard

An herbal salt--I used Silk Route Seasoned Sea Salt

Black olives (seedless)  in a jar--the bland kind, not the exquisite kind you'd put on an hors d'oeuvres plate. 

A little olive oil

Vegetable of your choice: I used zucchini

Optional: lemon juice, small red onion, pressed garlic

Instructions:

Pre-heat the oven to 200º celsius (About 390 Fahrenheit).

Grease a medium-sized Pyrex baking dish with a little olive oil.  Place the slices of salmon side by side in the dish. I used two 300-gram slices (around 10.5 oz) for two big eaters. The usual recommendation is around 200 grams (but to me, that's if you're planning a dessert to follow the meal, which I was not).

In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, sharp mustard, and herbal salt to taste. I used about three parts mayo and one part mustards--around a tablespoon of the Dijon and slightly less of the sharp. But mix and taste. When you like what you've got, spread it on the fish. Thickly. 

Drain the olives in a sieve and rinse. If they're not already sliced, slice them and spoon them over the fish.

Put fish in pre-heated oven for about half an hour or a bit more. Less if you're using only around 200 grams. You'll probably need to bake it for at least twenty minutes, but if you want the topping crispy and more "baked in," longer is better. 

While the fish is in the oven, start your rice or potatoes--I made Jasmine rice in a rice cooker. 

Rinse and slice the zucchini and place in a large bowl into which you've put olive oil, juice of half a lemon, a chopped small red onion, and some pressed cloves of garlic. And a little more herbal salt. Toss mixture and sauté. 

I should have waited to photograph this before I stuck my fork in it, but I was too hungry: 






Sunday, September 18, 2022

Basics of Baking Chicken

 You will need:

A whole chicken Buy a good bird--organic or corn fed.

A Pyrex baking dish that has room for the chicken and a bunch of potatoes and veggies.

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Potatoes, any variety

A red onion or two

Garlic--preferably the elephant kind, but any will do

Carrots

a lemon

Frozen peas

Instructions:

(1) Remove chicken from packaging and put in Pyrex dish. Salt and pepper chicken and stick it in the fridge, preferably overnight. A few hours will do. Remove half an hour before you put in oven.

(2) Fill a large pot with water. Rinse the potatoes and carrots, cutting the ends off the carrots and any flaw off the potatoes. Put salt and the potatoes in the cold water and let boil. Once they've been boiling long enough to slightly soften the potatoes, add the carrots. Poke the potatoes; they should be soft enough to slice but not mooshy. Drain and rinse with cold water. 

(3) Peel the garlic--I used around ten cloves--and the onion. Put in a large bowl with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add the drained potatoes and carrots. If the potatoes are large, slice in half. Toss in olive oil.

(4)  Briefly remove chicken from Pyrex dish--put it on a plate or a cutting board. Put the veggies in the Pyrex dish. 

(5) Rinse a large lemon; cut off the stem and punch a few holes in it with a sharp knife. Push lemon into chicken

(6) Put the chicken on top of the veggies  and slide all into pre-heated oven at 190º Celsius (375º Fahrenheit).

(7) After about half an hour, remove chicken and turn it upside down, so that the part that's been sitting on the veggies is exposed to the heat.

(8) About twenty minutes later, add peas and put chicken rightside up again. 

In a few more minutes (depending on size of bird) your chicken is ready to eat: 


 

Enjoy with a glass of Prosecco or a light white wine.

 

 

 


Friday, September 16, 2022

How to Make Really Good Pasta without Much Effort

Jump to recipe!

Basic Ingredients and implements:

Olive oil

Cloves of garlic and a garlic press

One chopped onion, any size you like

Zucchini, organic, sliced (if you use non-organic I won't tell)

Cherry tomatoes and/or a can of same

Grated parmesan

Goat cheese wrapped in bacon (available at many supermarkets) baked for around twenty minutes. 

Prosciutto, sliced but not fried.

Pour a little oil in the frying pan--a tablespoon or two, and heat. Add chopped onions and pressed garlic, stirring constantly, and reduce heat. Add sliced zucchini and sauté; add whatever else you want, but probably the tomatoes, and stir. You'll have something like this:

This, dumped over the pasta of your choice, which you've been making alongside the sauce, is fine, but ordinary. What makes it special is the following:

(1) Once you've poured the sauce over the pasta, you add the prosciutto, which has been cooling its heels on a little board:


Toss in the prosciutto. I once tried frying it--a bad idea. Just toss it in.

Top the whole thing with the goat cheese wrapped in bacon, still sitting in your oven, where it's been baking at around 190º C (375º F) for around twenty minutes. Sprinkle on the parmesan. Enjoy with a glass of red wine--I recommend EntrecÔte.


Thursday, August 18, 2022

How To Get Through Your PET/MRI Scan

You'll wish you'd asked for the ear plugs. They offered you the headphones and you thought you'd be fine. You had the sense to remove your contacts. Confined to a motionless reclining state, most people my age find themselves waking only when the mechanical voice tells them to breath, exhale, and stop breathing. When I followed instructions, I felt proud, holding my breath for a really long time. 

Here's what it really sounds like inside the tube: fifty jackhammers backed by sledgehammer-swinging dwarfs with a few howls thrown in. I don't recommend the aesthetics.

But like many a mom, I can sleep in most places, especially when compelled to lie still. I can tell you I had strange dreams.

A few tips:

(1) Pee before you lie down. At least twice. You'll be in there a long time: 20-45 minutes.

(2) Don't have claustrophobia

(3) Don't be surprised when you're asked to remove anything that might have metal in it (they even gave me a surgical mask since the FFP2 has metal wiring over the nose).

(4) You'll get green or blue scrubs to wear. Pretend you're an extra on Gray's Anatomy. You get to keep your underwear and socks.

(5) Sound effects: imagine a lunatic, bizarrely unharmonious anvil chorus. Try to distract yourself by playing the real thing in your head:


I'm told the newer machines actually play music. How you hear it over the "clang, clang!" and "whomp, whomp!" and "yowl, yowl" I can't imagine. 

(6) When the technician injects the radioactive dye, ask if you'll light up like a Christmas tree. Ha ha, but no hugging pregnant women or toddlers. I tried to steer clear of any female large of belly on the tram ride home.

(7) Drink lots of water (at least a liter) to get rid of said dye. No wine today!

(8) Understand you'll feel disoriented after the procedure and spend a minute figuring out where you are and how to find your way from the bowels of the hospital building back to where you came from. Think of Dante emerging from the Inferno.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Latest Breast Cancer Boondoggle

Ladies, if you can just stay awake forever, you can keep metastasis at bay! That's the conclusion many of us are drawing from this latest finding indicating metastatic spread of breast cancer accelerates during sleep. And I quote:

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) generated during the night divide more quickly and therefore, have a higher potential to metastasize compared with those generated during the day. This could be explained by the circadian rhythm hormones (melatonin, testosterone, and glucocorticoids) regulating CTC generation and, as a consequence, insulin promoting tumor cell proliferation in a time-dependent manner.

At times like this,  I find Mr. Bean's methods during his overnight drive to Cannes particularly amusing. After trying and failing to stop his sleepy head from hitting the steering wheel, he relies on the snores of his companions, the cigarette lighter, self-slapping and biting, and finally a box of matches, with which he holds his eyes open, to keep himself awake.


In how-many-angels-can-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin fashion I wonder what else those circulating tumor cells might enjoy doing when one is sleeping, besides divide, amoeba-like. Surely they might be inclined to entertain themselves in other ways. Metastasizing must get boring after a while--perhaps instead they might knit up the ravelled sleeve of care? Or just hang out and have a drink or two, while eating chocolates or candied ginger? If they're a part of me, they might have my tastes. Yeah, they might. I'll drink to that.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Speculations on the Death of Ivana Trump

 

Back in 2017, Ivana Trump dissed Melania on ABC’s Good Morning America, saying, “she’s basically first Trump wife. I’m first lady.” Same dynamic as Diana and Camilla? For Diana, Camilla was “The Rottweiler,” and Camilla dismissed her as “Barbie.” Now, the Royals don’t murder people—that’s not their style, unless you believe Diana’s fatal car crash was engineered—a conspiracy theory long laid to rest. The Royals may have found Diana irritating, inconvenient, news-hogging, unforgivably glamorous, but they’re not Macbeth or Hamlet’s Uncle Claudius. For them, killing people is déclassé. Not sporting.

 

But Donald’s Trump’s style is “Murder most foul, as in the best it is;” he’s a gangster who stops at nothing. Would he go so far as to kill his children? Maybe he’s not Keyser Söze, the brutal drug lord in the 1995 noir thriller, The Usual Suspects, who murders his entire family in order to remain incognito and rich—but never forget, the character was based on a real man, John List, who shot his mother, wife and three children. Trump is mean enough and self-centered enough to kill literally anyone who might be a threat. Ivana knew plenty—she might just be the most recent in a series of American beauties allegedly killed by powerful men. Did the 73-year-old former wife of one of the world’s most powerful men really just happen to fall down the stairs in her own home? The latest speculation is a heart attack.

She had a history of violence with “The Donald,” who ripped out hunks of her hair and raped her, something she spoke of and then denied speaking of. If she knew stuff—and didn’t she always?—he’d go after her unless he were absolutely certain of her loyalty. A paranoid guy isn’t, ever. And she did say, “Darling, don’t get mad—get everything!” Maybe, in the end, that backfired. Maybe, in the end, he decided she was a risk. Dead women tell no tales.

 

Have I just invented a conspiracy theory? Are the feds out there dusting for DNA? Who knows? A five-second glance at the net names several undetectable poisons causing heart attacks. Arsenic and Old Lace. The Borgias. Brrrr. Convenient time to off a lady who might know more than Cassidy Hutchinson. But then again, even very fit 73-year-olds have heart attacks.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Un-American: This Week

This morning, turning right on the sidewalk in front of my building, I walked past a burly guy loudly announcing to his friend, "Amerika hat das gemacht!" ("America did this!")

I didn't pause to listen but quickened my pace, not looking back--not wanting anyone to know I was one of those people. Here in Germany, my accent betrays me as foreign, but usually people imagine I'm English.That's not the best of deals either. A British MP, Danny Kruger, is already talking about removing women's rights to bodily autonomy. One bright spot: Germany's just made it easier for women to get abortions, setting a tone I hope will characterize all of Western Europe. But in my hometown, New York, you can now pack a pistol. 

We've heard Christine Blasey Ford's graphic testimony about her experience with Justice Kavanaugh, who when they were both in high school covered her mouth with his hand and held her down, turning up the music when she struggled and screamed. We saw Amy Coney Barrett sign her name in 2006 to an ad declaring that it was “time to put an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade.” I am old enough to remember the Clarence Thomas who called his employee, Anita Hill, into his office to ask her who had left pubic hairs on his can of coke (see 10:03)

He told her if she ever repeated any of his remarks, this would "ruin his career." Who can forget the man's comments about the "Long Dong Silver" porn films he saw--about "large breasts?" This is who's removing the right to abortion, and apparently going after contraception and gay marriage. This is whose wife called Anita Hill to demand she apologize for "lying." This is whose wife tried to get Arizona to give the election to Trump. Persuade Mike Pence to throw out the 2020 election results on January 6. And this is whose wife attended the "stop the steal" rally on January 6, 2021.

Cassidy Hutchinson, thanks for going once more into the breach, and please, keep exposing the gangster who rode shotgun and thank goodness didn't wrest the wheel from a cooler head. But the evil that men do lives after them.

 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Coming-Down-With-Covid-Chicken Soup

It's probably just a cold--tested negative. But this soup is delicious, inexpensive to make (about eleven euros for at least ten servings) and filled with flavor. 

I took one important hint from Martha Stewart: start by putting the chicken in cold water. I didn't take her other piece of advice, which is to add a tablespoon of salt. Forget that. Start very simply: a large Dutch oven--I used my trusty Le Creuset. You will need:

One pack of chicken wings or drumsticks--or if you want to get fancy, what Germans call a "soup hen."

One pack of "Suppengrün" (800 grams) which typically comes with a big hunk of celery root, three or four carrots, a leek or two, and fresh parsley.

Garlic, fresh, lots

Ginger--to taste, fresh

A red onion or two

Turmeric--fresh or powdered

A strip (about eight inches) of kelp (available in most stores selling Asian food products)

Olive oil

Dry vegetable broth

The recipe:

Remove the chicken wings from package and place them in the Dutch oven. Fill almost to top with water, cover, and set on stove to boil.

Slice the red onions, the garlic, the leeks and the ginger and sautée them in olive oil. Set aside. Rinse the celery root, carrots, parsley. Slice but do not yet add.

Check the chicken broth. After 20-30 minutes, scum will appear--take a small sieve, skim it off. Rinse the sieve and skim again. Cover chicken and let simmer around fifteen minutes more. Skim again. 

Add turmeric, leeks, ginger, red onions, garlic. Stir. Let simmer around fifteen minutes. 

Add all except the parsley. Allow to simmer till the carrots are soft. Stir. Taste. Add vegetable broth--to taste. I used two tablespoons full. 

Add parsley. Stir. Consume! The chicken will be falling off the bones. You will feel much better.




Monday, June 6, 2022

Amber's Admirer: A Byzantine Romance

In a plot twist worthy of a bodice-ripper, Amber Heard's received a proposition from a Saudi man. In an Instagram voice note in Arabic, he promises her a life of "joy and happiness," adding,

Amber, since all doors are closing on you, you have no-one except me to take care of you. I’ve noticed some people hate and bully you, therefore I decided to marry you.  

I imagine the story spinning out as follows:

Chapters 1-4: Thrilled with his carpeted private jet, especially the gold toilet seats and faucets, gobsmacked by diamond earrings he gives her and her daughter, delighted by the delicious meals, foot massages, your-wish-is-my-command style of the man, who is terrifically handsome, she says yes. 

Chapter 5: The marriage takes place on the plane. He makes purple passionate love to her and feeds her figs and cream for breakfast. She is unaware of his having removed her and her daughters' passports.

 Chapters 6-12: Life around the palace gets a little dull. He's gone all day in meetings after promising to take her places and go dancing.

 Chapters 7-13: She complains. He advises her to leave him alone. She knocks his coffee cup out of his hand, spilling hot coffee over his fresh white thawb. He slaps her. She screams. (We will "draw a curtain" over the rest of the scene).

Chapters  14-20: She notices her phone is gone. She doesn't dare ask where, and begs a trusted servant for a burner. The trusted servant agrees, but does not appear at the agreed-upon meeting time; Amber never sees her again.

 Chapter 21: Amber begs another servant for a burner, handing over the most expensive piece of jewelry given to her by the Saudi prince. This time, she reaches the U.S. Embassy, and learns how difficult it may be to get her out. 

Chapter 22: She texts Johnny: "I know we've had our differences, but I really appreciate you now! I'm sorry I was kind of mean! Please, please, please, rescue me and I'll be really nice from now on!"

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Showstopper Trial: From Oscar Wilde to Johnny Depp

In 1864, when Oscar Wilde was ten years old, his parents set a bad example by getting involved in activities formerly deemed "sordid," a word having almost no meaning anymore. Wilde's dad, Sir William, so prominent an eye and ear surgeon that he was appointed to attend to Queen Victoria, in the event she was troubled with ocular or otolaryngolic problems while travelling in Ireland, was being stalked by a former lover. Sir William had given the seventeen-year-old Mary Travers money to go away and leave him alone, and in revenge she snuck into his waiting room bathroom, filled the soap dishes with garlic, penned a pamphlet suggesting he had raped her, signing it with his wife's pen name, Speranza, hired newsboys to sell copies of his love letters in front of a hall where he was giving a lecture, and printed doggerel insulting his illegitimate children, of which he had at least three, in local papers. Mary even broke into Lady Wilde's boudoir, but was booted out. Lady Wilde took her children to Bray, a seaside result, to get away from Mary, who followed them there and hired more newsboys to sell pamphlets about the alleged rape--and this time, Oscar's young sister, Isola, wondered how they knew her mother's name. Fed up, Speranza, Oscar's mother, sent a scathing letter to Mary's father asking him to control his daughter. Poking around in her father's drawer, Mary discovered the letter and sued Lady Wilde, Speranza, for libel.

What a sensation--so big a trial the London papers reported it. Mary won, in the sense that Lady Wilde's letter was judged "not true in substance and fact," but she was awarded only a farthing in damages. Since she had technically won, the Wildes had to pay the crippling court costs. 

The result? Ten-year-old Oscar became fascinated by trials, telling a schoolmate he'd love to be the hero of a cause célebre and go down to posterity as the defendant in such a case as Regina vs. Wilde (the queen versus Wilde). The rest is history.

Fatty Arbuckle . . . Lorena Bobbitt . . .  can't begin to cover them all. 

Then there was O.J. Simpson, so guilty of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson that New York Magazine's cover showed him with bloody hands. The prosecution made the very dumb mistake (who doesn't know leather shrinks in liquid?) of making him try on the leather gloves the killer had worn. "If it does not fit, you must acquit!" said his lawyer, Johnnie Cochran.

None of their stories fit, in the sense of making sense of wildly jealous, vengeful, and violent behavior. How two gorgeously talented beautiful people, Heard and Depp, dissolved into toddler-style squabbling, bottle-throwing, name-calling, slapping, and other unseemly behaviors is anyone's guess. Maybe she'll go off into the sunset with Elon Musk or another billionaire--unless she sues Depp again, as she's threatening to do. Maybe he'll get to play Gellert Grindelwald again and really feel the part if he does. Maybe I'll get some work done after weeks of my guilty habit--just couldn't get enough of the pouting, the smirking, the dirty laundry, and the glow of celebrity--at a distance. Few things make me happier than the state of being a complete unknown. Anonymity is gold!

 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Ballad of Amber and Johnny (to the tune of "Please Mr. Jailer")

I can't seem to take sides--they're both so childish. But it's fun to re-imagine old songs:

The Ballad of Amber and Johnny*

 

Please Mr. Jailer,

Won’t you lock ‘em both up now!

Please Mr. Jailer!

‘Cause they’re not highbrow!

 

He don’t belong in my life ‘cause he’s guilty as can be

But the only crime he’s guilty of is simply boring me.

But, you big courtroom, I like this here jamboree!

 

Hey judge she’s lying—I wasn’t boring at all!

Hey, judge she’s stupid! ‘Cause I got the biggest balls

Hey, judge she’s so wrong! ‘Cause I’m still handsome me!

 

He don’t belong in my life ‘cause he’s not Jack Sparrow now!

He’s fatter and he’s older than my sense of self allows!

I used to think he’s cute but (face palm) now I don’t see how!

 

Hey, Judge, she’s not nice—she cut my finger tip too

Hey, Judge she’s freaky—she left a gift of her poo

Hey, Judge, I’m tired—I really think she’s cuckoo!

 

All Rise, here’s my verdict—both of you kids stand up straight!

All Rise, here’s my verdict—and I won’t placate!

Miss Manners is waiting for you outside the courtroom gate

She’ll tutor each of you now! Her method is first-rate

And when she’s done with you, you’ll know the golden rule is great!

 

Oh, Mr. Jailer,

We’re more polite than you think!

Whoo-hooo!

Oh, Mr. Jailer!

Sorry both our stories stink!

 

*To the tune of “Please Mr. Jailer,” from his least known and possibly most brilliant film, Cry-Baby (1990)

 

Watch the original. Fasten your seat belt for “the lick” and “the growl”



Saturday, May 21, 2022

No Time for A Spa: My 48-Hour Alternative

Step One: I walked into Lidl to scarf up everything I never buy: chocolate-chip cookies, two kinds of junky chocolate pudding, and sweet wine:

 


 

Step Two: I served it to myself. My favorite wineglass. A Plate. TV

After about four cookies, half of each of the puddings, and 3/4 of the glass of wine, I gave up. I was stuffed.

Step Three: I passed out on my bed while trying to read.

Step Four: I opened a book I was saving for the beach: Dan Brown's Origin. But I was too sleepy to read. Which is fine, because I really do want to lie under a beach umbrella somewhere like the North Sea and read this. 

Step Five: I slept for around ten hours. I think I went to bed at 9:30.

Step Six: The next day--today, that is--I got a haircut.

Step Seven: I bought all that overpriced shampoo and hair oil every salon tries to sell you. The stuff smelled good. 

Step Eight: I went impulse buying, a not remotely alarming sport for me. Net takeaways: a new toilet brush and a watering can.

Step Nine: I thought about re-writing all the stuff I'd planned to re-write rather than actually re-writing it.

Step Ten--the best: I managed not to feel one bit guilty.


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Women and the Fourteenth Amendment

Justice Samuel Alito says that abortion was never mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was slavery, until the thirteenth amendment abolished it. Neither was marriage between persons of different ethnicities. Neither were women. Yet the spirit of the nation was moving toward abolishing slavery, allowing marriage between different races and including women as equal partners in government. Not immediately, of course--the term "all men are created equal" didn't include  anyone who wasn't a white guy, usually a property-owning Protestant white guy. But those guys had more than an inkling that slavery was bad--see early drafts of the Declaration: https://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/compare.html. Note the stuff in the first and second drafts regarding slavery didn't make it into the final version, the reason being that the writers didn't want to abandon a large source of their wealth. But like Saint Augustine they wanted to be good--just "not yet."

Even if these guys hadn't already been considering the evils of slavery and other injustices, they were hearing about these things from underlings--like their wives. Abigail Adams told her husband, John, the second president of the United States, “Well I suppose we will have to have to have a new code of laws and when you write those laws, remember the ladies, because all men would be tyrants if they could.” Against slavery, in favor of universal public education for girls as well as boys, she made it known that women should be allowed to hold political office. 

When Alito claims that rights must be"deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition," and that the "right to abortion does not fall within this category," he's wrong. The country was always moving toward rights to privacy regarding one's own (male) body. If it hadn't been, we'd have had a constitutional amendment banning or permitting vasectomy. 

No one is arguing in favor of a slaughter of innocents or defending abortion as a contraceptive method.  Jill Lepore refers to the procedure as "morally thorny," a position I suspect we all take. When it comes to the crunch--when a woman's physical or mental health is threatened, when the pregnancy results from rape or incest, when the fetus is not viable but has a heartbeat at 20 or 30 weeks, it's cruel to ban abortion. 

It's up to women to define their physical and mental health needs; their privacy in making these decisions would be unquestioned if they were men.


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

A Human Being's Right to Choose

In 1973, when I was sixteen, the condom broke. My boyfriend and I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood and said I might need an abortion. Luckily, I didn't, but by the time I'd gotten my period, my psychoanalyst--like many an Upper West Side girl in the seventies in Manhattan, I'd been sent to an analyst--had fired a salvo: an abortion, he yelled, would have put me on the terrible slope of depression. Downhill all the way. Central casting's notion of a Viennese shrink, he assured me  "many women" came crying to him after abortions. They felt like they'd killed "the next U.S. president" or "a genius," he warned, adding insult to injury with "you're oversexed."

I'd had sex exactly once, and it had never occurred to me to imagine myself as a murderer killing the next U.S. president, a genius, or anyone else. I knew I wasn't ready to become a mother, nor did I want to incubate a child for nine months and give it away. I felt very grateful to know Planned Parenthood was there.

The Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decriminalized abortion nationwide in 1973. In April of that year, Ms. magazine published the police photograph of Gerri Santoro, dead, in a fetal position, blood soaking through towels between her legs. She looked as though she'd died in agony. That photo drove home to me the need for women to have access to safe, legal abortions. 

Published one year before Gerri Santoro's terrible death was revealed, Alix Kates Shulman's Memoirs of An Ex-Prom Queen included an abortion scene, a woman home, in pain and terrified, lucky to have survived, taken to the hospital, where a doctor won't perform the D&C that would prevent complications, bleeding, infections. 

Until 2018, the Catholic church let Irish women die when a heart was still beating in the chest of a brain-dead fetus. Ten years ago, Savita Halappanavar, a dentist living in Galway, began bleeding, but because the non-viable four-month-old fetus still had a heartbeat, she was sacrificed on the altar of the Irish church, dying of blood poisoning. Medically trained herself, Halappanavar knew the risks of heavy bleeding during a miscarriage, and wanted to live. Six years after her 2012 death--at age 31, from entirely preventable sepsis--Ireland finally passed the Health Act, giving women the right to abortion.

I'll never forget the Irish women who told me the story of her mother dying giving birth to her eleventh child--the child died too, she said. At the time of her mother's death in the early nineteen-sixties, Irish doctors who had to choose between the life of the mother and that of the baby picked the baby's life, on the grounds that the child was not yet baptized. 

Ireland has come a long way in advancing human and women's rights. The United States Supreme Court should not devolve, taking us all back to the days of coat-hanger  and back-street and other dangerous abortions. Abortion is a matter of personal health care and should remain protected. No woman should be berated for her choices, as I was, or prevented from making them, or offered anything but respect during what for many women is a difficult and painful decision.