I’ve made this recipe for green tea noodles so many times, I have it memorized. It gets so fucking hot here in Austin during the summer that I have a hard time eating much else. Also, this shit is like crack. I just ate two helpings and I still want more.
Two bundles of green tea-flavored buckwheat noodles from the Asian grocery. (Plain buckwheat noodles work, too. Don’t use spaghetti. That’s obscene.)
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin (rice wine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
Black sesame seeds or gomashio, if you’re all macrobiotic and fancy
Some kind of finely grated seaweed type substance that comes ground in a little jar that you bought forever ago during your failed macrobiotic phase, and you can’t even remember what it is anymore, but like a teaspoon of this shit is awesomesauce on top of some noodles
Half a block of soft tofu, cut into dice (optional, but nice)
Half a big cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced (also optional, also nice)
Heat some water in a pot with some salt. While it’s getting hot, fill a jug of some sort with ice and water (it needs to hold at least 4 cups of water); store in the freezer. Take your two noodle bundles and take the fiddly little plastic tape things off of them so you’re not stuck fussing with one while the other bundle of noodles is already boiling away. Make the sauce by adding the tahini, soy sauce, rice wine, and rice vinegar in a little container/bowl and shaking/whisking furiously. Put the sauce in the fridge so it can get cold. Do the same for the tofu and cucumber (if you have them) after you’ve diced them.
Once the water is boiling, dump in the noodles and set the timer for four minutes. Go to the bathroom. Check your Twitter.
The timer beeps—dump your noodles out into a strainer or colander. Take the jug of ice water from the freezer (it must be ice AND water—just water won’t get cold fast enough) and pour it over the noodles, taking care to keep the ice cubes out of the noodles. If you do get ice cubes into the noodles, that’s ok, it’ll make them nice and cold, but you’ll still have to fish them out.
Put the desired amount of noodles you want into a big bowl (preferably a big pretty ceramic one you got at a pottery sale in college). A bundle should serve once person a piece, but if you’re a noodle crack fiend like me, you’ll want two. Pour maybe half the sauce on your noodles (unless you’re eating them all, in which case, pour it all on), and toss them with a fork. Blop a handful of tofu and cucumber on top, if you have them. Liberally sprinkle sesame seeds and seaweed on top.
Eat—-slowly. Because you’ll want to eat it quickly.
This weekend I was told a story which, although I’m kind of ashamed to admit it, because holy shit is it ever obvious, is kind of blowing my mind.
A friend of a friend won a free consultation with Clinton Kelly of What Not To Wear, and she was very excited, because she has a…
Invest in alterations. They are worth every penny. My sister, who is plus-sized, learned long ago that she’d have to alter almost anything she could buy in order to look decent, and she has become expert at it—she always looks great.
Overall, I get along pretty well with my parents these days. I don’t see them too often since they live far, far away in Hawaii, but the once or twice per year we get together has always been pleasant. My mother and I are fairly close, while Dad does the more typically male thing of his generation of only being able to talk to me about the state of my house or car. Still, they’ve been unflaggingly generous and kind to me, if not always understanding. (Any more details along those lines are between me and my former shrink.)
11- My idea of a perfect date.
As evidenced on this here blog, I love movies, so my perfect date would involve the tried-and-true dinner and a movie combo. He’d take me out to someplace tasty and interesting where we could drink wine or good draft beer, and then we’d go out to see an interesting, thought-provoking, or at least fun film. Through all of this (save for during the movie, of course), the best and most important thing would be a good conversation. Really, the only ideal I have for any date would be intelligent, insightful, funny, open discourse with an attractive, interesting male.
21- Most embarrassing moment.
I was at a party with a guy I was dating last year, and he got so shitfaced on Maker’s Mark that he yelled over a dozen people’s conversations, tried to force-feed more bourbon to them, and then vomited into the kitchen sink. The next day, when I told him he was due to come with me to have dinner with my dad that night, he told me (in front of several of our mutual friends) “…Yeeeeaaaahhh, I think not.”
Fictionalized films related to The Beatles, in order of preference.
A Hard Day’s Night
I convinced my friends to watch this right after The Hours and Times last night, since neither of them had seen it. It forced me to look at it from a non-Beatles-fan perspective, which was hard for me since a) I grew up watching this film and b) the hormonal intensity of the John Lennon crush I had at the age of 14 has a rather long half life, apparently. It was interesting to see how much of my enjoyment of the film stemmed from my former teenage investment in all of Lennon’s little moments in the film—John snorting “Coke!” John wearing a fake beard! John making a weird face when he nearly flubs lip-lsynching! Hee hee!
Seen from a cooler perspective, this is still a funny, charming film, though the more seasoned actors surrounding the Beatles are better at comic timing. That said, the Beatles come across as surprisingly natural despite their youth and inexperience. Two additional surprise jewels are the film’s editing and cinematography, which are much more artful and sophisticated than a jukebox film such as this required at the time, and which are the reasons why it still holds up well after all these years. Harder to forget, however, are the whipping shots to cringing, writhing, screaming female fans near the film’s end, whose totally unfeigned tears of joy and madness underline just why we’re still thinking about those hapless four boys.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand
I haven’t seen this film in some years, but it used to be one of my favorites during my teenage Beatles period, all because it convincingly portrays the over-the-top, emotional experience of being a Beatles fan. It’s completely silly and goofy, but for a fan, it stoked the fires of gleeful obsession like only the best Mary Sue-ish fan fiction can. Somewhere in me, there’s a long, pretentious essay about female desire, fandom, fetishism, and simulacra, all centering on a rather bizarre scene where an unwitting female fan ends up in the Beatles’ (empty) hotel room and starts humping their guitars to the strains of “Love Me Do.”
We watch here as the Beatles ascend from mere mortals to cartoonish myth, and the result is as dated as go-go boots, yes, but it’s also funny and at times brilliant. The animation is beautiful and fluid, and I personally love the soundtrack more than many of the Beatles’ full albums, as it served as a repository for George Harrison’s underrated songwriting, which ranges from the passive-aggressive “Northern Song” and the sublime “It’s All Too Much.”
Across The Universe
Julie Taymor’s jukebox musical is much better than it has any right to be, really. It pulls the same corny trick that the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band movie pulled, wherein all the characters are named after people in Beatles’ songs, and it’s set Forrest Gump-like in the late 1960’s. That said, many of the musical sequences are inventive, and some are truly inspired—“Come Together’s” choreographed dance of besuited men walking in lockstep is like nothing else I’ve seen, and “Because” is a thing of aching beauty.
The cast is hit or miss, though. Evan Rachel Wood is luminous, I love the plucky T.V. Carpio as Prudence, Joe Anderson’s Max is hilarious, but Jim Sturgess’ Jude is a total, uncharismatic, douchebag turd afflicted with the fake Cockney mushmouth that seems to happen to all actors who attempt the Beatles (or Beatle-like characters). The Janis Joplin/Sadie and Jimi Hendrix/Jojo characters are also rather pat and stereotypical. In a way, the film as a whole seems like the pilot for a never-aired TV series starring a bunch of young kids trying to make it in the big city in the 60’s, and seen from that more humble perspective, it works unexpectedly well.
As the later films on this list will attest, getting super high and making a movie doesn’t always work out. The humor in this one is much dumber and wackier than in A Hard Day’s Night, but it’s still fun to watch those boys clown around while they’re all totally stoned.
I don’t remember much about this film, actually, though it wasn’t bad. Like The Hours and Times, it’s a peek into the more mundane human story of the Beatles, its main focus being Stu Sutcliffe’s life and untimely death by brain aneurysm. I’m just wondering how long it’ll be before the gristmill demands more films about borderline Beatles—where’s Pete Best’s film, eh? Or Billy Preston’s?! Even Brian Epstein got one! Or how about some more Beatles films from the ladies’ perspectives: Patti Boyd, maybe, or Jane Archer?
Magical Mystery Tour
Other than as a time capsule to see just how much LSD the Beatles were drinking in their tea each morning, this film is pretty damn bad, especially because Paul McCartney saw this as his chance to foist his fruity dance hall obsession on everyone.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
This film isn’t even good if you’re high—it’s not even so bad, it’s good. It’s just bad, bad bad bad baaaaaaaad. My little sister and I used to skip ahead to the sequence where a very young Steve Martin performs “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” but other than that and Aerosmith’s version of “Come Together,” this film is unbelievably boring and horrible.
Haven’t seen: Birth of the Beatles, Beatlemania, Nowhere Boy, All You Need is Cash, The Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch, I Am Sam
I would feel pretty weird asking you a lot of those things (except #28) - so here's an unrelated:
Is that Under The Pink that's framed on your wall - the record? Just the sleeve? a poster that just happens to be 12x12?
If it's the vinyl, dayumn.
28- My favourite songs right now.
All of PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake.
Beethoven’s 6th symphony.
Popol Vuh’s soundtrack for Aguirre, The Wrath of God.
(I don’t listen to much music these days.)
As for Under the Pink, yes, it is the vinyl (and the vinyl itself is pink!). My friend James gave it to me for Christmas this year, when he and his family had me over for their holiday dinner. It’s one of my favorite Tori albums and album covers.
I’m really good at being very organized and methodical—it’s definitely helped me intellectually (in college) and professionally. On the more right-brained side of things, I’m also good at conversation, which I truly believe can be a beautiful and enlightening art, if practiced with passion and understanding.
16- Where I have lived before.
I’ve lived in various small towns in Texas (Sherman, Wichita Falls, and Georgetown) and Oklahoma (Lawton, Tulsa, Oklahoma City) for most of my younger years. I’ve lived in Austin since 2003. For five brief, amazing months in 2002, I lived in London.
18- What my greatest achievements are.
I’m not entirely sure how to answer this, as my opinion on what “great achievements” are has changed considerably over the past years. Back when I was really hard on myself, I figured I could only be great if I’d written a novel, married someone amazing, or basically became a star in some way. Now, I consider being as kind, understanding, and compassionate to myself and others as an incredibly difficult (and therefore great, if ultimately unattainable) achievement.
That said, I feel pretty damn great about getting my job, which is as an office manager/ accounts payable contact at a natural science museum in Austin. It’s tedious sometimes, but it’s been the best job I’ve ever had, and I hope to keep it as long as I can. Being happy about where I’m going when I get up each morning is priceless.
1- Who a good friend of mine is. 2- What I hate most about myself. 3- What I love most about myself. 4- What I’m really good at. 5- What I’m really bad at. 6- Biggest turn ons. 7- Biggest turn offs. 8- What I want to be when I get older. 9- My relationship with my sibling(s). 10- My relationship with my parents. 11- My idea of a perfect date. 12- My biggest pet peeves. 13- A description of the person I like. 14- A description of the person I dislike the most. 15- A reason I’ve lied to a friend. 16- Where I have lived before. 17- A description of the family I want to have when I’m older. 18- What my greatest achievements are. 19- What I hate the most about school. 20- How my last kiss when down. 21- Most embarrassing moment. 22- What my last text message says. 23- What words upset me the most. 24- What words make me the best about myself. 25- A description of my self-esteem. 26- A description of my best friend. 27- The reason behind my last break up. 28- My favourite songs right now. 29- A wish that I’ve wished for repeatedly on 11:11. 30- An internal conflict I have with myself. 31- The meanest thing anyone has ever said to me. 32- The sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me.
Think of some of your most powerful memories, and there’s likely a smell attached: the aroma of suntan lotion at the beach, the sharpness of freshly mown grass, the floral trail of your mother’s perfume. “Scents are very much linked to memory,” says perfumer Christophe Laudamiel. “They are linked to remembering the past but also learning from experiences.”
But despite its primacy in our lives, our sense of smell is often overlooked when we record our history. We tend to connect with the past visually - we look at objects displayed in a museum, photographs in a documentary, the writing in a manuscript. Sometimes we might hear a vintage speech, or touch an ancient artifact and imagine what it was like to use it. But our knowledge of the past is almost completely deodorized.
I’d love to visit a museum of ancient smells. There’s nothing more visceral than the impact of a smell from one’s past. Some weeks ago, as I was walking to the gym, a group of middle school students who had just finished their summer camp swim at the pool passed me, and their combined aroma of sunscreen and public pool chlorine hit me like a fist with the memory of my own childhood. For a few seconds, I was there.
Williambenton and Julia, kind souls that they are, slept on the futon in the living room while I took Benton’s bed Saturday night. I blearily awoke on Sunday to find them packing up to go sleep at Julia’s house, since the living room was a) without an air conditioner and b) full of agonizingly bright morning light. Benton’s roommate had escaped to his girlfriend’s, so I had the place to myself when I got up a bit later, after a short morning snooze. I made some toast and coffee, and soon readied myself for my trip to Proteus Gowanus.
The walk down Union and over the Gowanus Canal was a beautiful one; I sauntered past lovely shade trees and old, friendly-looking brownstones. Proteus Gowanus was an old factory that had been converted into gallery, lecture rooms, writers’ meeting space, and private library, and I arrived just as it opened. The place is apparently a hopping little intellectual scene—a girl I spoke to at Benton’s party said that she had just written a news story for a local rag about the place, which was holding an opera out in their courtyard a few evenings this past week.
I idly looked around their tiny Gowanus Canal museum while I waited for Ryan to arrive. There was a marvelous giant wooden box that contained bits and bobs of various things people had dredged out of the canal, from industrial rock effluvia to old bottles and shells. I read through a few binders that collected news clippings of every drowning that had taken place in the canal since the 1880s. When Ryan showed up, we spent some time perusing the stacks of the tiny Reanimation Library, where a local artist had collected books that public libraries discarded due to age or obsolete information.
Finally, we stepped into the tiny pocket of space that was the Morbid Anatomy Library, and it was everything I’d hoped to experience. The kind docent there chatted amiably with us as we peered at dentist tooth decay models and handled a glass eye. Unlike most museums, you’re encouraged to open drawers and touch all the various objects on display, which I did without further encouragement. (In fact, the docent said that I was one of the few who did actually pick up stuff, as most visitors, too used to being in regular museums, felt intimidated and didn’t want to break anything on accident.) They had a full selection of all the books published by the Museum of Jurassic Technology, I was happy to note. I could have spent hours there, but I wanted to have a sit-down lunch with Ryan to catch up, so we left soon thereafter.
We walked together back down Union, and found ourselves at a pleasant beer garden called the Gowanus Yacht Club, where I had a delicious grapefruit shandy and some pierogies for lunch. Ryan filled me in on his current exploits; he and his roommate run Tough Pigs, a website that’s the Ain’t It Cool News of the Muppet world, and it was so much fun to hear of the success they’ve been having with holding screenings of obscure Muppet movies and shows, and of getting to meet several of the Muppeteers in the business. As always, we also gabbed about movies—before he transferred to another college, he was my movie buddy for the first two years of college at Southwestern University, and we’ve remained in touch ever since.
We vaguely wandered down Union before deciding to go uptown to the Evolution Store in Soho. Again, we were plagued by constant problems with the trains, so our route into Manhattan was circuitous and long. Also, neither of us had smartphones, so we bumbled our way onto Spring Street through a few dialings of 411 and Ryan’s rough notions of New York geography. Finally we made it, and I was agog at the incredible variety of stuff on sale there: gorgeous preserved butterflies, freeze-dried rats, macaw feathers, and replica fossils of many, many kinds. I stayed away from the fossils and bones, as I could tell they got them from the same vendors my museum did (mostly Bone Clones and Skulls Unlimited), and they had marked them up ridiculously. However, I was unable to resist buying a subtley mottled emu egg, and I got a little souvenir for Nicholas as well. At least now I know where to go when I make my millions—if I had my way, my whole house would look like the Evolution Store and the Morbid Anatomy Library combined.
We made a pit stop at a gelato stand for a snack, which we consumed on a park bench under the shade of ginko trees. From there, we charted a course for the new High Line Park, which was an old elevated railway that was converted a couple of years ago into a walkable park. While the walkway was super crowded with people out enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon, it was still a pleasant walk, and it was great to get a unique, pigeon’s-eye-view of the city. In a stab at irreverence (that came across as creepy instead), the park’s planners had put strange recordings in the various water utilities at the park—when I refilled my canteen at one of the water fountains, it told me that kissing was good for dental health, and when I used one of the public bathrooms, a male voice told me that being tidy would make me “one with the universe.”
We were both pretty tired by this point, so Ryan lead me to a station that would take us both back to Brooklyn, him to Boerum and me to Myrtle. On our way, I spied an Alexander McQueen store, and though I couldn’t even begin to imagine affording anything therein, I just had to go look. I enjoyed seeing the severe suits on display, in addition to a magnificent yellow dress that cost a whopping $14,000. “I hope they give you a bottle of champagne or something if you drop that much money on a dress,” I mused. Deadpan, Ryan replied, “I hope they give you a car.”
On our way to the station, we passed a completely naked woman, covered in body paint, walking down the street just as easy as you please. Ah, New York.
I said goodbye to Ryan on the J train, and soon I was back at Benton’s to drop off my emu egg. I spent just five minutes there before hitting the streets once again to join Benton and Julia at Sakura 6, a Japanese restaurant near Green Point. We shared edamame and (free!) hot sake, and ate a variety of delicious and cheap maki rolls. I had a lovely time chatting with Julia; I hope she takes me up on my offer to stay with me should she ever come to Austin. Dinner was a perfect end to a long, full day, and after Benton kissed Julia goodbye, we ventured back to his apartment. We relaxed and watched a few scenes from Gimme Shelter on his portable DVD player before I begged off to bed.
I slept the sleep of the dead, though the rumbling of the nearby M train broke into my dreams. Benton and I switched places so he could sleep in the cool of his bedroom, while I’m now in the living room, enjoying some coffee. I have to take three planes home this afternoon—JFK to Columbus, Ohio, then Columbus to Dallas, and then Dallas to Austin (such is the nature of a free flight bought with frequent flyer miles). All my layovers are unbelievably short, so I pray that I don’t hit any delays.
I’m so glad that I made this short trip. New York feels like my home away from home now, and there’s still so much more I want to come back and see. While it’s tired me out, I feel so revived from all the beautiful art and artifacts I’ve seen, and I feel grateful for the kindness of my friends. While Austin is my true home, it’s comforting to know that New York is only a three-hour plane ride away. I’m sure I’ll be back soon.
My original plan of getting up early enough to get to the Met when it opened proved rather unrealistic, after our night at Trash Bar, so williambenton and I slept in. We had some leftover frittata and Utz chips for breakfast before hitting the street. We made a few stops along the way—williambenton for a cool beverage, me for some Pepto (ah, hangovers)—only to find that the L train was out for our particular route, so we had to wait for a shuttle. By the time we finally made it to the Met, it was noon, and the place was utterly insane with people.
There was an hour and a half wait to get into the Alexander McQueen exhibit. I was almost tempted to buy a $60 membership just to bypass the line, but instead I decided to be cheap and stick it out. Williambenton wandered off to explore on his own while I patiently stood in a line that wended its way through exhibits on ancient Babylonian art and 19th century European paintings. That, at least, helped my wait to not be a total waste of time, and I enjoyed perusing tiny Hittite sculptures and florid Romantic paintings of naked ladies. I tried texting williambenton when I finally hit the front of the line so he could jump in with me, but our signals got crossed, and I went into the exhibit on my own.
The exhibit itself was beautifully arranged and lit, with all kinds of creepy atmospheric touches of music and sound effects in various hidden-away corners. Seeing his one-of-a-kind couture pieces in person was breathtaking, as only then can one appreciate the tiny, perfect stitches and the textures of fabric and beading. The best room by far was the Cabinet of Curiosities, which held myriad headdresses, fetishistic jewelry, and costume pieces on several separate shelves like a giant shadowbox, all while video clips of some of his more disturbing runway shows played on various screens also set into the shadowbox. It was like something out of a Tarsem Singh movie—beautiful, but decidedly nightmarish.
Unfortunately, there so many goddamn people that it was difficult to see things clearly, and after my long wait in line and lack of lunch, I was about ready to scream by the time I made it out of the exhibit. I purchased the exhibit catalogue and then proceeded to blunder about the Richard Serra exhibit just next door to McQueen. The monumentally stark, blank paintings, and the near-total lack of people, was a balm to my increasingly frayed nerves, and it was there that I finally got a hold of williambenton, who met me outside the museum. We each snarfed a hot dog on the steps, and soon I was feeling much more human. Williambenton decided to go so he could start getting ready for the party that night, while I stayed to see a little more of the Met.
While I was very tired, I managed to see some cool stuff for a couple more hours. I was especially impressed with the monumental, awesomely twisted tribal sculptures in the Papua New Guinea area, and I had a nice time resting my eyes on Georgia O’Keefe paintings in the modern art section. I recognized a few Hiroshige woodblock prints in the Japanese area, too. Arted out, I grabbed a peach shake from a vendor at the Met’s doorstep before making my way back to Brooklyn.
Not only was the L train out, but the M (the closest line to williambenton’s house) didn’t run into Manhattan on weekends, so I made a very circuitous journey on the 6, walked on Lexington Avenue for a few blocks, and got on and off the F train, and then finally took the J to an M stop—a two hour journey, in all. I was exhausted by the time I got back to williambenton’s, but I was proud of myself for not getting totally lost. I leafed through my McQueen catalog while he played records and cleaned up for the party.
Julia was the first to arrive, and the three of us hung out and gabbed for a couple hours until folks started showing up. It was a beautiful, cool night, and williambenton’s roof area was perfect for a party. Someone’s band across the street veered from singing ELO covers to making awful Adam Yaunch-rap-like noises, and you could even see a few twinkling stars. I drank beers, chatted up several folks, and made a cigarette run at one point. It was a really fun, low-key gathering, and I’m so pleased that williambenton helped bring me into his little social world for a while. I stayed strong until 2:30AM, at which point I gave into my compounded tiredness and hit the bed, where I slept the sleep of the worn out, but happy.
I decided to party down on my night before leaving Austin, so Friday morning, I was running on maybe two hours of sleep when Andy dropped me off at the airport. My plane was delayed two hours, so I was forced to spend more time than anticipated staring off into space in a combination of wiredness (due to coffee) and extreme fatigue, which is a hellish combination. I managed to get a little nap after my flight finally took off, at least.
New York City was sunny and cool when I found myself waiting for the A train at Howard Beach Station. williambenton met me at Broadway Junction, and took me the rest of the way to his house via the L train and several winding streets in Bushwick. We stopped at a Mexican bodega for dinner supplies, and I made us a quick zucchini frittata back at his place. We ate, listened to records, and drank several PBRs while we caught up.
Thus fortified, we ventured off into the night to see the Dwarves play at the Knitting Factory, where williambenton apparently is a favored persona—he was plied with free drinks from the bartender the hour or so we were there, and he got me and his girlfriend Julia in for free. The Dwarves weren’t my kind of music at all (super loud, fast thrash punk), but they inspired a pretty serious pit, which was fun to watch until it became too full of flying limbs for us to want to stick around. The three of us decided to go sing karaoke at the nearby Trash Bar. While Julia and I chatted in the hall, waiting for williambenton to close up, eight men carted a bloodied pit dancer out onto the street, and we witnessed a fire truck come to take the poor bastard away.
Trash Bar’s karaoke didn’t start until 1AM, so we went to a pizzeria for a slice to fill our drunk stomachs. Julia, who’s vegan, declined pizza so she could get a snack at Foodswings, a joint specializing in vegan/vegetarian drunk eats. She got a couple of buffalo “wings” made of that chik’n stuff, and after she gave me a sample, I had to get one of my own—it was incredible! The “meat” was uncannily like the real thing, the sauce was spicy and zesty, and to top it all off, they formed the “meat” into a drumstick-shape around a chopstick, so you even had the experience of tearing meat off of a bone-like object (something I would dearly miss if I were vegan). It was probably the best vegan fake-meat food I’d ever had. Hell, that shit was so good, I’d eat it even if I weren’t vegan.
The karaoke section at Trash Bar was small but hopping, and williambenton and I soon took the stage. He started with…I don’t even remember now. (The drinking, it was prodigious.) Something by KISS, I think. I sang “Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson, which I did a little justice to, and then later we dueted on “The Wild Rose” by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue. Though my second wind had carried me all evening, it stopped blowing all of a sudden sometime around 3AM, and after saying our goodnights to Julia, we took the bus back home. And then I slept.