Monday, October 18, 2010

What I’m reading

The Institute of Modern Letters reports via Twitter:
We hear that Vincent O’Sullivan has snapped up all copies of his first 2 books, Our Burning Time and Revenants, that recently became available.
He must be cornering the market, knowing that the price will spike spectacularly sometime soon. Excellent. I have several copies of both books, preserved here in the Waikato out of harm’s way. When the earthquake hits Wellington and destroys all other copies, how sad we all will be, but the value of my collection will soar.

Ally writes on modern romance in her Unremarkable Adventures:
I think romance is as dead as the pukeko my flatmate hit on the way back from Greymouth last weekend.   Not just because of classic Kiwi lines such as the ever-fresh, “Everyone’s going to think we slept together anyway,” but because whenever romance comes alive for me it has a horrible tendency to be the Frankenstein sort of alive, the product of an interesting idea and a poor execution and, of course, the winning combination of electricity and other people’s body parts.
Alexis Petridis recalls the strange world of 1970s cabaret pop:
The cabaret scene lurked just below the surface of British pop in the 60s and 70s, a hinterland of uncool to which you got packed off when you could no longer keep pace with the then-dizzying speed at which rock and pop developed. You can see them on these DVDs, the artists swept away – by Merseybeat, psychedelia and glam. Some of them were former legends who would become legends again: Dusty Springfield, belting out a song for Morecambe and Wise in the midst of the slump that began with the commercial failure of Dusty in Memphis and would only end when the Pet Shop Boys stepped in; Roy Orbison, looking as lost as you would if you were Roy Orbison and you found yourself on The Wheeltappers' and Shunters' Social Club, sandwiched between the Krankies and a Bavarian folk band [. . .]
It’s a very funny piece, written from the heart – and yes, TV really was like that then and it is better now:
People like to say, a little peevishly, that The X Factor and Britains Got Talent represent a return to the days of Old Fashioned Light Entertainment, but I can tell you, a little peevishly, that the artists on The X Factor look like the very acme of sophistication and bleeding-edge musical excitement compared with cabaret pop. Imagine that: music that actually makes you appreciate Simon Cowell. 
 Food horror ad of the month:
The rumors are true!  We’ve married two of life’s most tastiest foods... Bacon & Chocolate.  We start with hickory smoked bacon and it’s cooked in the oven until golden & crispy then we smother it in our special blend of chocolate, to give you a taste sensation like nothing else you’ve ever had before. 
For another outrageous bacon sensation, Try our Vegan’s Nightmare Ice Cream.  Delectable chunks of our crispy chocolate covered bacon in maple syrup ice cream, it’s crazy good!
I bet it crazy isn’t!

Here is a good discussion at Marginal Revolution attempting to answer the burning question, “Which ingredient most signals a quality dish?”. The first stab looks good to me:
For me it is scallions [spring onions]. If it’s got scallions in it, it’s gotta be good. Scallions have never steered me wrong. I think it’s because no one really starts with scallions. They get added later to take a proven dish from good to great.
And this later on in the comments:
Lime is awesome. I love lime. It can cover up a weak dish, so thank goodness for lime in the grand scheme of things. I can't say that it's a reliable signal of something special, but insofar as food needs a sugar/acid balance, lime offers a lot of complexity for the trouble. We take it for granted, but it is still a positive signal for many dishes. Imagine cooking without citrus! Eff that.
Quite right. Smug bastard note: I have both growing in my garden and use them all the time.

White Sun of the Desert, a recent discovery, works in the oil and gas industry and posts a list of phrases which are commonly heard but not to be believed:
1.  Somebody will be there to meet you.
2.  It’s only for a few weeks.
3.  You don’t need to bring anything.
4.  This project must be finished by [insert date here].
5.  The procedure will explain how.
6.  It is important you attend this meeting.
7.  HR will take care of that.
8.  Transport is available.
9.  He speaks English.
10. It’s pretty much finished, it just needs a little tweaking.
11.  We will decide that later.
12.  Not for personal use.
13.  All necessary tools and equipment will be provided.
14.  Competitive rates.
15.  It’s fairly straightforward.
And here he praises British Airways – no, really – and describes what it is like to be a newbie in Lagos, having spent a long period working in Sakhalin. It is a fascinating, very long and very personal first-hand account. 


Samuel said...

That last blog is fantastic - thanks.

I think the chocolate-covered bacon pales in comparison to the hotdogs-wrapped-in-chocolate-chip-pancakes that Jon Stewart used to (maybe still does!) bring out as a recurring gross-out gag on the Daily Show.

Stephen Stratford said...

Thanks Samuel.

I am trying so hard not to think about chocolate covered bacon in maple syrup ice cream. Which means that's all I can think about.