I don’t like vague directions when I’m trying out a new recipe. Not vague like Patrick’s black beans, but vague like this: I made mango sorbet this weekend and the recipe called for reduced sugar water, but the directions simply said bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. .5C of sugar in 1.25C water. Then you mix it in with some mangos and orange juice and freeze it [adding whipped egg-white later]. Mine ended up like mango ice or a mango slurpee instead of sorbet because there was [obviously] too much water in it. In retrospect, I have determined that the sugar/water was supposed to be reduced until it was simple syrup, but I guess the recipe just assumed I’d know that. Which brings me to my conclusion:
I’d like a Stupid Chef’s Illustrated Encyclopedia that gives you both methods and pictures of certain culinary tasks. Like what “stiff peaks” means when whipping egg whites, and how to separate an egg in the first place [which my mom told me how to do when I asked] and lots of other things that cookbooks assume a chef already knows. The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook is good for some of this, but it isn’t comprehensive and is more focused on providing recipes than techniques.
So I sold a bunch of NES, SNES games and my PS1 to the Record Exchange yesterday and found the Criterion Collection edition of Monty Python’s Life of Brian in-store. Since they really only want to give you a store credit anyway, I ended up buying it. They had a lot more Criterion films there, but I’m pretty much positive it is cheaper to buy everything on eBay instead.
A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #61: Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
I’m taking a bit of a break from watching Criterion films I’ve not seen before and doing a little catch-up by writing reviews for films I’d seen before I decided to work on this list. Appropriately, Monty Python’s Life of Brian starts off this pseudo-sabbatical. Like most geeks, I’ve been a Python fan since early high school, and I’ve seen this film on the order of a dozen times or so. It has always been my second favorite after The Holy Grail, but I’ll readily admit that it is their best cinematic work. In addition to the tautness of the film the satire and social critique is multi-layered and still meaningful to this day.
The large number of terrorist/resistance organizations emphasize and reilluminate the fact that Middle-Eastern strife has been a constant for thousands of years. By pointing this out in comedic terms, the idiocy of such violence is underscored. There is anger and frustration hidden behind the comedy as well; much of it seemingly derived from the general ignorance and sheep-like quality of humans en masse. Here too, the Pythons can preach without being preachy, and show time and again how people take lessons from the Bible and twist them to their own ends. We see that everyone has an ulterior motive, although they might be blind to it themselves. Extremism is the target here, whether from an aggravatingly politically correct democratic terrorist group or from the speech and mercy impedimented Roman tyranny.
Yet there is also compassion and love in the comedy. Jesus is never a target and because of this it is possible to recognize the Python’s own recognition that sheep need a shepherd, someone as genuine as a Jesus or Brian. There is just the right blend of ham and gravitas in the Python’s treatment of the Jews [that joke is probably in bad taste] to know that struggles against oppression are respected. In fact, the silliness serves as a kind of anthem to those who think that comedy is a lesser art than drama or that it cannot tell as important a tale. If anything, I think it is probably even more difficult. Life of Brian manages it with ease.
• Criterion Essay by George Perry.
• A complete script of the film and other resources.
• The Criterion Contraption Review.
I need to start exercising again. The marathon was aborted because of my knees and a lack of motivation, coupled with the fact that I was in Nashville anyway. Running and pushups and situps should commence now that the weather is nice again. If I can run 5 days a week in the middle of winter I should be able to do the same when the weather is nice. Still can’t afford to start fencing again, though.
Martin Luther King
has got better things to do
than put his hearse here.