Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dante Up

Gray weather messes with my schedule. I’m conditioned to get up when I see daylight. Make all the jokes you want about Los Angeles air quality or our lack thereof, smog isn’t gray. It’s brown. So when I see gray, I think, “too early.” Okay, I usually have an adjective in there, but I still don’t get up.

The point is, this morning I was late. Ergo, I drove past the church with the Hellfire ‘N Brimstone™ marquee just after the Sunday service ended.

Well, that’s not really the point; it’s more of a set-up. I’ve been driving past that church for eleven years. Every time I did, I saw the weekly marquee messages. They range from vapid to threatening. That’s why I think of it as the Hellfire church. But until today I’ve never seen a single person going in or coming out.

I’ve been listening to a brilliant Marc Maron cd in the car. It has a terrific riff on the Creationist Museum. You should hear it, remind me when I’m done and I’ll lend it to you. He was doing that bit just as I drove past the church with all those people coming out in suits and nylons. (Don’t be snide. The men were wearing suits and the women, nylons.) The serendipity of finally seeing people at that particular church just as I heard a brilliant rant about the Creationist Museum was too much. I had two thoughts:

First, I wondered why no one ever references The Flintstones when discussing Creationism. Maybe it’s a generational thing, I dunno.

Second, I decided I had to tell you about it, because it truly was a divine comedy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blue Jean Baby Queen

This is about jeans. We all have them. I don’t care if you’re animal, vegetable or mineral, you had a hell of a time finding a style and size you like that fits. I thought I had, two pairs’ worth. Then I fell and skinned my knee, ripping a hole in one of them. (Yes, the ones I’ve been wearing for a year like that. This is called backstory.) A week or two later I went back to the store and bought a third pair, same make, brand and size. They were too small. I wore the ones with the hole. Months later I tried again, this time I tried them on. Pair #4 is one size larger, they practically fell down. I bring those to Las Vegas, with a belt.

What the hell, two pairs are fine. Wear one, wash the other. I had a tailor mend the hole, it looked fine. No problem, right? I was getting ready to leave today when rrrrrrrrrip. Out went the ass-seam of the mended jeans. Not going back to the tailor, I had to bite the bullet a third time.

The Sherman Oaks mall on a Friday after school is not for the weak of spirit. Rich teenagers clog the walkways with their annoying antics and expensive clothes and sneers for anyone who resents their obstruction. Robert calls them “human cholesterol.” But that’s not the story.

I was in the dressing room, trying on a pair of the same jeans, same make, same size (wearing them now to break them in) when I heard it. The saleswoman speaking to the woman in the next dressing room;

“So those don’t fit either? The 00 are still too big?”

That’s why everyone hates shopping for jeans.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No Dinner

I tried, really I did. I started to write about the three-and-a-half-hours-of-continuous-eating meal, but I gave up. Then I tried a different view, why I wasn’t going to detail all 11 courses (not including the sorbet intermezzo and dessert.) That didn’t go so well either.

If we meet in real life, it’s an epic worth seeing (there’s pix of each plate, remind me and I’ll bring them) and hearing about, but my tired old fingers are just not up to the task of typing out the glory.

I.O.U. In the meantime, this blog will return to its regularly scheduled ranting. Watch this space.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Desert Fleur

Imagine that you like everyone in your entire extended family. (It’s just make believe. Jeez, work with me here.) Now imagine that you’re all at Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, and your Grandma is the best cook in the whole world. So there you are, with all those wonderful people, eating lots of delicious and perfect food, in warm, relaxed, amiable comfort that feels like a group hug.

That was our meal at Fleur By Hubert Keller.

Of course I began with my glorious, adored truffled onion veloute. (I don’t know how to put the little accent over the second e but as much as I love soup, this is better than the very best soup.) Spicy gazpacho shooters arrived with those wonderful little tuna tacos. Don’t think for a minute that you know what tuna tacos are like. Unless you’ve had them at Fleur, you haven’t had tuna tacos. Each tiny, exquisite marvel has just the right ratio of crunch to succulent jewel-pink fish with a smidge of avocado cream and a sliver of jalapeno. We ordered six.

Our buddy Juan has my back. He decided that there wasn’t enough fish on the menu so he talked the chef into making some halibut ceviche just for me. You all know I’m ceviche-obsessed. This was the best damned ceviche I’ve ever eaten in my whole life, and I’m not saying that just for the halibut. Or maybe I am, but it was. Mm, mmm, wow!

Gorgeous and yummy lobster mac & cheese, fried chickpeas – I’m doing this from memory because my notes and the pix are still in my purse, but the memory is so strong I don’t need them.

We’d seen Juan with his very pretty and charming wife Tenisha the day after we arrived in Vegas, and over milkshakes and hot chocolate at Max Brenner’s, we happened to tell them the story about Robert’s birthday being our wedding anniversary. ( - although now he’s @RealBobWilson on Twitter) Well, we got not one but TWO special desserts, one for his birthday with “Happy Birthday” in chocolate calligraphy on the plate and an honest-to-god candle, and another with “Happy Anniversary”! That was before the two chocolate souffl├ęs with caramel ice cream and hot chocolate ganache. We each had one, don’t be snarky, they weren’t both for me.

Thanks to Juan, Javier, David and Gus, in order of appearance. We appreciate all of you.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bad Pizza, No Twinkie

Nature isn’t a metaphor, it’s a harbinger. We knew we’d be driving through thunderstorms the night we went to Las Vegas. It’s one thing to see the weather report, and another to see lightning flashing just off the side of the freeway, over and over again. It was loud, and brighter than the most annoying strobe you’ve ever seen. Truly tremendous fun. Then again, I’m a storm junkie and I was driving. Wheeee!

We got there and found out the hard way that Selena Gomez was playing at our hotel. Teenyboppers in casinos? Huh? Robert said maybe it was pedophiles. In any case, all 6,500 audience members came in their own vehicles, epic parking disaster. Fine, that’s why there are valets. Inside, the solitary young woman manning the check-in desk was having a bad night and she took it out on us in ways we didn’t even find out about until we left. That was only an annoyance, not a story, so don’t worry about it.

Lessons learned: “Foaming at the mouth” is not a euphemism for crazy, it’s a fact. Not putting that story online, but ask me when you see me. It’s a mofo.

Couture is ugly. There are lots of ultra-high end designer shops there. I went into a couple just as an anthropology experiment. The purses in Balenciaga reminded me of the worst of my Great Aunt Sophie’s excesses in the 1970s. I selected the most horrible of the lot and asked the price. $2,345.00. No wonder there was more security than sales staff. That same bag would go for $19.99 at Marshall’s, to a desperate blind woman in need of a Halloween costume.

It turns out that “Twinkie Pizza” isn’t pizza with Twinkie™ topping, it’s pizza in the shape of a twinkie, and apparently just as awful. They couldn’t make one without pepperoni, so I’m trusting Robert’s judgment here.

One final Moment, though it happened early on. I was walking past some shops on the way to the car. A pushy sales guy kept trying to give me a free sample of skin cream. I kept refusing, and didn’t slow down. He shouted after me, “You can use it on the bags under your eyes!” I stopped, turned, and shouted back, “Thanks for that! I don’t like the way you look either!”

Now I know I usually tell you everything I ate in Las Vegas, but we were there for an extra day and the Internet just isn’t big enough to hold it all, though apparently we are. You’ll get two meals’ worth of details. Trust me, that will suffice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Don't Roll Your Eyes

How do you handle it when someone believes something is true and you don’t? No, we’re not talking about anything remotely religious. I’m always nice to the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to our door. I may quote Aquinas or Kierkegaard, but I’m nice and I smile when I do it.

Maybe “enthusiasm” is a better word than “truth”. You’ve had someone close to you go nuts over something that you thought was mediocre at best. What do you do? You can nod along, pretending to listen just to keep the peace. You can be sarcastic and risk hurting someone you like. You could be like Robert and jump to the complete opposite opinion just to be pissy.

Or -- and here’s where I’m going to get radical, so fasten your seat belts -- you could take an interest.

Look, this is someone you value. You wouldn’t have gotten past the weather if that wasn’t the case. Why not trust their judgment? Find out what’s so damned fascinating about whatever it is. Ask questions. Listen to the answers.

I have a friend who likes professional basketball. I mean, really likes it. You all know what I think of professional sports. But over the years I’ve asked questions, and at least I understand more about what he likes about it and why he likes it. I’m still not going to sit through a game, but so what? The conversations were interesting. I watch “Top Chef” because years ago, someone I respect talked to me about it. Now it’s one of the few shows I see.

Next time you find yourself wanting to roll your eyes, stop. Take a deep breath, cowboy up, and listen with respect. You might be pleasantly surprised. Pleasant surprises are few and far between in this world, and you shouldn’t miss an opportunity to have one.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Toujours Du Jour

Time used to be measured in days. Aside from the ubiquitous soup du jour, we had the Thought for the Day and the Word of the Day. Everyone who ever lived with a parent, at some point in their lives, has shouted about The Way It’s Done Today – presumably in response to the way “it” was done in previous days.

After that, time was measured by the hour. Remember the Man of the Hour? Well, he died of old age. Now it’s by the minute. Thank you, technology.

Back in the 80s, when everyone else was searching for excellence or learning to love themselves, I read a lot of Zen. I tried to get on top of the idea of living in the moment. Back then, time was still measured in hours instead of minutes, so living in the moment was a relatively novel idea. I never did it. I was always thinking about what had already happened, what might happen shortly, or what could happen eventually.

Fast forward to this morning. I was in the gym (where else?) on the elliptical. I had no book, and I never use headphones. The guy next to me had TV and a video phone and headphones. He lasted about ten minutes. I was on a 45 minute cycle, with nothing to do but think. My time passed as comfortably as time can pass while you’re doing cardio.

Wax on, wax off. Watching the clock tick down, minute after slow minute, while I pushed forward at a steady pace, after all those years and all that Zen, I was finally living in the moment. The next step is to learn to take life one day at a time.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What Are They Thinking?

Or: Grasping At The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Backpack

There are things I just don’t get.

It started with guys in Capri pants. I can’t get used to them. Having graduated high school in 1978, my sartorial aesthetic runs to extra long pants that cover the shoes. Capris are anathema in general, and on otherwise strapping young men they look silly to me. Fine. It’s none of my business. Chacun a son gout, and all that. File it under “kids today” and get it off my lawn.

Moving on, have you seen those cruel and nasty-looking types blasting yacht rock from modded Escalades? I know I tweeted about them, my apologies if I also already blogged about them. Since the enigma remains unresolved, it’s both pertinent and apposite. Besides, I saw another one today. That makes six. It wasn’t an Escalade, but the point holds.

We’ll ignore fabulously expensive designer kids’ clothes – after all, fashion trends last about as long as a grammar school growth spurt. I don’t get it, but a college education isn’t worth the money anymore either, and clothes have a social value of sorts. It’s not a value I value, but what the hell. Snobs have to recognize each other somehow. They might as well have a uniform.

Right about now I figure you’re all with me. Here’s where I’ll lose most of you. My final style gripe du jour is: racer-back tank tops. (Macho types ask someone who isn’t. It’s a good opener. You’re welcome.) Don’t even mention racer-back bras, my cup size is too far down the alphabet for that. Go ahead and joke. Har har. Very funny. I haven’t heard that one before, not. But I double-dog dare you to find a cute little workout shirt that will hide a bra without pinching your armpits.

Let’s ignore the broody boys in too-tight girl jeans, the ersatz Flashdance-style cropped sweatshirts and butt implants. This is plenty for one day.