Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Angerman, Klaus Kinski and the BFB

No I did not misspell anger management. If you click on the photo to the right, you will find the most inane name for a character ever. It really is Tor Angerman, US Attorney. When I found that in the pile at the Archive, I found it fairly amusing. Craig is still calling me to shout 'I AM Angerman!' through my phone. There's a certain amount of fun to that character name. But I as I actually looked through the book. I became really vexed that it was ever published. It wasn't just that there was a Tor Angerman in the story, Objections Overruled, it was that the story was inane because of garden variety sloppiness. The sloppy plot begins with our Heroine, Kaiti (again, not a typo), facing off against her ex-husband (Angerman – yes, I'm going to keep saying his name) in a death penalty murder case. Even if you apply CSI: Miami legal logic to this, and the judge didn't remove one or both of them from the case, it is unfathomable why a rich family would have their only daughter defended by the ex-wife of the prosecutor especially after they are caught having relations in a public place! Actually, they would both face disbarment for such behavior. Now, I know there is an audience for this sort of thing. No one would keep publishing it if there were not. What bothers me is that the editor didn't catch it or that Angerman name. Jon quipped that she may as well have named him Thor Largemember, Esq. (if anyone out there uses the name, I want royalties). That the book was published full of glaring inanities speaks to a cynicism in their view of their readers. Quality doesn't matter. They'll read it anyway. Now, that may be true, but the attitude really irked me. Does it cause that much money to have a little pride in their titles? Yeesh. I'll take “Percival, fetch me my breeches' any day. Now, I have to figure out how to stop Craig from calling me up to yell Angerman through my phone.

Conversations with Craig

Craig has been obsessing about Klaus Kinski this week. Who knows why. I've never been a fan. But them, I've never been into scary German actors in brooding German films. However, now I'm obsessed with Kinski, too. It seems that when Kinski revealed to people close to him that he was dying, Director Werner Herzog suggested that he write his autobiography and slander everyone he know or didn't know. The result was Kinski Uncut: The Autobiography of Klaus Kinski. The kindest official review called it pornographic. Due to lawsuits, it was pulled at some point by the publisher. Some copies are still out there (thus, my obsession), but the cheapest I found was $50US. For that kid of dough, I'd buy the fixings for a lobster dinner. However, I am intensely curious. It is said to be so outrageous as to not be believed (farm animals factor in there somewhere). Then there is relationship with Herzog. I can't understand why and actor and director worked together so often when they were often conspiring to kill each other – seriously. Of course, Craig thinks this is a hoot. He really gets tickled over an interview Herzog gave in which he threatened to put a bullet in Kinski's brain then his if he abandoned his a shoot in the middle of a South American jungle. Who can work like that? Jon understands how it can be important to find that one great actor to bring your vision to life, but all that would end for him with the first hand grenade tossed in our backyard. This is a really twisted business. I still want to read the book.

Hot Time, Summer in the City

California is on fire once again. And though we are far from any flames, the evidence of this huge blaze outside of LA can be seen for miles. This is the view from the sidewalk outside our apartment (we're approximately 30 miles away). The smoke is reaching us though. Jon and I are on antihistamines with the air conditioner running. We may be sent home from the Archives new locale as it's downtown and getting even more smoke. The weather is supposed to break soon. Hopefully, that will allow the firefighters to make headway.

Philly Visit Part Two – The Grillin-ing

When last I left this story, it was only Friday. Jon and I had successfully shopped for the food I was to make on Saturday, and we'd had nice visits with my darling Nephew and Gideon. From Center City, we took a commuter train out to my Brother's suburban neighborhood to get a lift to Dad. It seems that Keith has become southern in his middle age as he detoured from Dad's to have us say hey to my Sister-in-Law, Michelle. He would have fumed at such course deviations when we were kids. I was glad to see her for a little while on her own. I knew it would be hard to talk to her one on one at the Big Family Barbecue (BFB). I've always liked Michelle. She raised a fun and sweet child (the Nephew), and was very good for my Brother. Our family has always been on the volatile side, she was always one of the few calming influences. It was a quality visit though not a long one. I really wanted to get back and make the pie dough so I wouldn't have much to do on Saturday. I had planned to be out of the way in the kitchen before the BFB prep began. Best laid plans...

When we got home, the kitchen was already in full prep. There was food everywhere, including tomatoes, green peppers and squash from Dad's garden. I took one look at the place and knew that I would have to make the pie and short ribs around my Stepmom the next day. Surprisingly, I wasn't freaking out. I really should have been. In all the years they'd been married, I'd spent very little time with my Stepmom. I actually didn't really know her until this visit. And here I was invading her kitchen. Her really beautiful, spotless kitchen. She was great though. I found her to be a very kind and funny person. She was great to hang out with. And she got on well with Jon, to boot! That was good as he is my sous chef. But then there were the BFB guests to fret over. They were mostly from the Warner side. I had never cooked for most of them – with good reason. During my childhood, I had witnessed many a cooking battle at family events. I knew whose collard greens were never welcome at a family gathering and whose potato salad just had too much egg in it. And then there was the great sage stuffing battle of 1972.

Back then, we would foolishly extend invitations to the extended family for major holiday meals. And is the way of big, crazy families, old grudges were often fought in subtle fashion in the kitchen. Who was the best cook was often at issue. Mom was always laid back about others cooking in her kitchen. It was how she got other people to do meals in her stead (and how I ended up making Sunday dinners since high school – that was one crafty woman). As she was also working second shift on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, there was all the more reason to let the incoming aunts or cousins take the lead. That didn't sit well with me though. I liked my Mom's Thanksgiving dinners. I still make my Mom's Thanksgiving dinner (with a few tweaks that are my own). I especially didn't want anyone messing with the stuffing, one of my favorite things about a turkey dinner. Well two of my Aunties got to fussing about the seasoning of the stuffing being off. And during the ensuing battle, the stuffing was re-seasoned than re-re-seasoned. When it came out of the over, it was so full of ground sage and poultry seasoning that it was green and inedible. I spent that holiday seething at the women. The next year and every year after that, I made the stuffing.

The battle and the snide comments that followed haunted me as the day of the BFB arrived. And then, the big blow. Dad didn't have the food processor he said he had. It was, inf fact, a hand mixer. That was unsuitable for making pie dough. I would have to do it old school...with forks to blend the butter into the flour. No pressure....sure. And with Stepmom watching. I was using a new pie dough recipe by Melissa D'Arabian , the latest winner of The Next Food Network Star. It was a very simple recipe that looked like smooth fabric draped in a a pie tin when rolled out and baked into brown flakiness. I tweaked it slightly (adding apple juice instead of water and two tablespoons of sugar). The recipe was given to Melissa by her French Mother-in-Law, and just looked so simple. And it was....with forks (of course, that was what the Mother-in-Law used, after all). I was do pleasantly surprised that the pie turned out even better than it had at home. I was so excited that I wrote Melissa and sent the photo to her facebook page. And she wrote back!!! I was so pleased. But nothing made me happier than when the Warner clan pronounced that it was a really good pie. They also loved the short ribs, too. I braised them in a red wine liquid similar to Beef Bourguignon. It was enough to make me cry, and I did when they all left. I had had cooking recognition before from the Queen Bee herself, my Grandmom Dolly. But that had been in private. This was the first public acknowledgment of my skills.

But beyond the praise, I had so much fun hanging out with Dad while he patiently explained why my grilled chicken usually was charred outside and raw in the middle. We talked about the fish he caught (we had that fried) and his wonderful garden (the tomatoes were too much – so good). And just talked free of all baggage. I met my cousins grown children and were amazed at how lovely and accomplished they were. Jon was my Stepmom's favorite being as he was always doing something she needed done. And of course, his parents, my Maw and Paw-in-Law, were quite popular. It was a wonderful afternoon despite the crushing heat and humidity. I can say, I hadn't connected that well with family probably ever. Now, I find I want to go to the next reunion and have that big family vacation. I really had a great time.

I stop again because the reunion with Sarah and Phil deserves its own space in the Philly sage. More updates next week.

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