All posts filed under: Eats

Buy Our Best-Of Book!

Here at TueNight, we believe age is something to celebrate. So in honor of our first year, we’ve created a “Best of” paperback book on Blurb.com. It’s filled with 13 of our favorite pieces, along with brand new illustrations that have never before been published.  It’s our way of saying thank you to our fans and collaborators, and to harness the spirit of Year One in a package that we can hold. There’s nothing like print, after all. Buying the book is also a great way to support the site. It costs just $10 and will help us continue to share our stories with you — in all kinds of new and exciting ways! A little sneak peak:

The Best Happy, Healthy-ish Birthday Cake Ever

Happy Birthday, TueNight! You’ve made it through year one, which in web years is a mighty accomplishment. Your birthday celebration would be incomplete without cake. To get this party started, I’m sharing a recipe from the KOD vault that has figured into sundry momentous occasions over the years. [pullquote]“The Bundt is an emblem of kinder, gentler times, when school bake sales were legal and somebody’s mother would cut one into hunks and call it “coffee cake.”[/pullquote] Break out that Bundt pan that’s been collecting dust; you’re going to need it (and if you live in a Bundt-free zone, you can pick up one secondhand at your neighborhood thrift shop for just a few bucks). For newbies, a Bundt pan is deep and round with lots of ridges but best defined by its middle chimney which leaves a hole in the center of a cake. The Bundt is an emblem of kinder, gentler times, when school bake sales were legal and somebody’s mother would cut one into hunks and call it “coffee cake.” It might have …

5 Bands Who Represent the New Power in Pop Music

Power pop, power chords, powerhouse vocals, “The Power Of Love” — music has myriad ways to flip the switch. Here are five artists who are honing and, in some cases, redefining what the idea of power in pop music means. 1. EX HEX There are some days when only the power of classic rock can save you—thanks to its big chords, hip-shaking beats, and long-hair-don’t-care swagger. The Washington, D.C. trio Ex Hex—made up of Betsy Harris, Mary Timony, and Laura Wright—gets this. Their debut Rips (Merge), out next week, takes rock and roll’s biggest ideas and compresses them into shiny pop gems, dismissing the wanky tendencies of certain rock-radio staples while audibly delighting in those tropes that put the pedal to the metal—juicy solos, sticky hooks, oh-oh-oh backing vocals.   2. SLEATER-KINNEY Timony is an indie lifer; before she formed Ex Hex, she was in the supergroup Wild Flag. That quartet also counted among its members Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss from the Pacfiic Northwest guitar-guitar-drums trio Sleater-Kinney, whose assaultive take on postpunk showed one way that …

Front to Backlist

Power Sources and Powerful Forces: Books from Stein and Seuss

My father, a civil engineer, worked at our local power plant for most of my youth, moving to the power company’s headquarters in glamorous Poughkeepsie when I was a teen. His position there was as a sort of energy-saving czar; he was eco and green at a corporate level long before bigger companies established their environmental divisions and initiatives. I tell you this so you’ll understand both where my mind goes when I hear the word “power,” and also why the Front-list title I’ve selected this week piqued my curiosity. Growing up, my father (and my mother, too) constantly exhorted me to turn off lights, use less water, not waste paper and return every can and bottle. In an era when their friends were busy filling trash cans with bottles of Canadian Club, my parents practiced rigorous recycling. They knew, intuitively, that a time would come when everyone would have to pay the price of squandered resources. In A Sudden Light, the new novel from Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain), that …

Taste-Testing Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups — Because I Can

I’m not sure that the consumption of dark chocolate peanut butter cups is quite a vice, but some days when I’m really focused on devouring them, I have to admit it all feels a little shady. My sugar consumption has ramped up since I got sober last year. My body was suddenly robbed of all of the sugar in wine and, um, whatever else I could find. I discovered cupcakes first. I swore that my suddenly very smart car started driving itself directly to the cupcake store. I was so embarrassed by this that I called a friend to discuss it. What adult woman needs a daily cupcake (or three)? Who checks the flavors on Facebook at a specific cupcake store because if you ask for the secret one they’ll give it to you like it’s your birthday? Who considers an empty parking space on a busy street directly in front of the cupcake store a sign from her higher power that she is meant to have one? Who goes broke buying fancy cupcakes — …

What Makes Nuns So Happy?

Spending an inordinate amount of time with Catholic nuns makes you start to worry about your own vices. Nuns take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to the church and to God, but beyond those, they also live relatively vice-free lives. It isn’t too often that you seen a nun puffing away on a cigarette, sitting at the slots in Atlantic City or doing the things that priests do that so often land them in headlines for the wrong reasons. All in all, Catholic nuns are a pretty chaste bunch. (Though I have known them to occasionally indulge in a glass of good red wine.) I was a different woman when I spent three years researching and writing my latest book, If Nuns Ruled the World. As a successful celebrity journalist, I’d written a critically acclaimed book about the dirty secrets of how famous people make money. (Talk about vices.) Still in my 20s, I was on the cusp of actual adulthood, but still indulging in the pleasures of youth that New York City offers: …

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Forbidden Fruit: Waters & Wharton on the Dark Side of Temptation

Frontlist: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters Backlist: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton It’s hard to believe that it was once illegal in nations like our own for consenting adults to engage in same-sex lovemaking. Thank goodness, too, that writers like England’s Sarah Waters are here to remind us of what it was like in more ignorant times when two women could not so much as go out on a date, let alone allow anyone to see them hold hands. Waters has elegantly and eloquently mined her country’s past for historical interstices that highlight how legislation, culture, class, and fashion have affected lesbians of different ages, stations, occupations, and temperaments. In Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, Waters created atmospheres of lush Victorian desire, while The Night Watch took place during World War II’s Battle of Britain. The Little Stranger, her bestselling 2010 novel, was a book less about sexuality than suspense, but now, with The Paying Guests, the author returns to her theme of love thwarted by mores and manners. It’s 1922, and …

5 Amazing Voices in Music Right Now

Pop music is defined by the voice — after all, the communion that a great song provides comes from singing along with lyrics, and not basslines. Here are a few singers making some of the most exciting music of 2014, in large part because of the way their artistic visions and strong voices come together. 1. KIMBRA Her voice blanketed radio in 2011, when she assisted Gotye on his inescapable breakup track “Somebody That I Used To Know.” But The Golden Echo, the second album from this Melbourne-based singer/songwriter/auteur, places Kimbra in the driver’s seat of pop experimentation, and she stretches her voice to its outer limits on the dissonant yet wistful “’90s Music” to the wanting, string-accented “As You Are.” The skating-rink-worthy “Miracle” is a disco jam on which she turns into a yowling, shape-shifting, and utterly joyous diva. 2. ANITA BIAS & AMBER STROTHER The two vocalists who make up the powerhouse R&B trio KING seem to be made for each other, at least as partners in soul—their singing is alternately coy and commanding, …

School Lunch Advice From Your Older Sis

Hiya, Little Sis! How’s tricks? I was thinking about you today while standing in line to sign up for next year’s summer camp. (We’re doing this awesome Lego/Robotics/Stanford-prep thing that I should totally tell you about.) I can’t believe your little guy — my sweet nephew — starts preschool this week. Reminds me when my girls were just starting, before second grade took its toll. Oh, the salad years! I realized there’s a whole school lunch scene that’s kind of intense that you may not know about, and I thought I could give you some advice. I mean, it’s really different from when we were growing up. And since I live in Brooklyn, we’re kind of on the frontlines of a lot of school lunch trends, so maybe my experience can be useful here? I wrote down some stuff for you. 1. Dad makes the lunch. If I were to tell you only one thing, it would be this. These days, that’s his job. I know that’s a little weird because your husband travels a …

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Marvelous Teachers Still Exist

When you get off the school bus for the first time (which, for most of us in the United States, means arriving for kindergarten), you’re usually greeted by your teacher, who has come to gather up a new set of students for the year. That teacher is also usually female. There are so many reasons for that, ones far beyond the scope of this book column — and that’s why I’m glad Dana Goldstein has written The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession. Goldstein, a scholar with the Marshall Foundation, explains a lot about how teaching became a profession mainly for woman, why teachers unionized and the effect that our culture’s shaping of teachers has on today’s classrooms. The New York Times Book Review piece on The Teacher Wars found it “meticulously fair and disarmingly balanced,” meaning that Goldstein successfully battled her way through a thicket of material without getting caught on any partisan thorns — and the result is a book that successfully reminds the reader that although there are problems …

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Two Eerie Tales of Frightening “Fads”

When we think of fads, we often think of things that are temporary in popularity —and often temporary in durability, too. Hula hoops, Buddha bead bracelets, lava lamps can break, get lost, or fade out of fashion. But what about fads that hang around even after their trendy moment has passed? Many people regret ill-considered tattoos (there’s a reason those places stay open late after bars close!), but even worse is the ill-considered plastic-surgery procedure. Not that Martin Wilkinson, one of the protagonists of Jess Row’s astonishing new novel Your Face in Mine, has any regrets about his own journey through cosmetic alteration. It is not a spoiler to tell you that Wilkinson, who grew up as the Jewish Martin Lipkin, has journeyed across the world to undergo “racial reassignment surgery.” Wilkinson now lives as an African-American man in Baltimore, a successful entrepreneur whose beautiful wife and adopted twin daughters have no idea that he was once a white man. His story is narrated by Kelly Thorndike, a high-school friend of the now-defunct Lipkin. He …

Recipes: Fancy S’mores, Cowboy Beans & Tamara’s Treat

All recipes serve six people. COWBOY BEANS These beans are a variation on a special-occasion go-to at my house: “Borracho,” or drunken beans. They are full of smoky flavor and can be as spicy as you choose. INGREDIENTS (2) 14.5 oz cans pinto beans (1) cups water Olive oil (1) large onion (4) cloves garlic (1) tablespoons ground cumin (1) 14 oz can diced tomatoes (1) 7.5 oz can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (1) 12 oz can of beer — cheap is fine DIRECTIONS Drain the pinto beans and pour them into a 3- or 4-quart saucepan. Rough dice the onion and garlic. They don’t have to be perfect or uniform, just cut into small pieces so they can melt into the beans. Pour a glug of olive oil into a medium size frying pan. Sauté the onion, garlic and cumin on medium high until onions are translucent — about 6 minutes. Keep them moving with a wooden spoon to make sure they don’t fry or crisp up. Add the sautéed onions, the can …

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Camp: It Was the Best and Worst of Times

Recently, an Australian author I interviewed told me that the American concept of sending children off to summer camp is entirely foreign to her fellow citizens. “We just don’t do it,” she said, “but to me, it sounds like a very good thing.” A wholly unscientific rifling through my mental file drawers leads me to believe that a random sampling of TueNight readers would find that just as many of us think summer camp is a very bad thing. It’s not all s’mores and pillow fights; there are just as many miserable meals of mystery meat and choky, smoky campfires to endure. Thus, this week’s Front to Backlist brings a recent novel about the best of camp, and another recent novel about the worst. I recently wrote about one of Meg Wolitzer’s earlier works, but her latest novel, The Interestings, set the bestseller lists on fire when it was released in 2013. It seemed everybody and her grandmother was reading this hefty novel about a group of creative, talented teenagers who bonded at their artsy New England summer camp. …

My Wet Hot American Playlist

I’ll be the first to admit my obsession with all things camp is a wee bit weird. I watch informational videos about other camps. I troll camp websites. I’m hooked on movies about camp. (Meatballs is one of my all-time favorites. But I also recommend Wet Hot American Summer, Camp, Indian Summer and Little Darlings.) Yet music is the art form I associate most closely with camp. I hear songs on the radio, at a wedding or in an elevator, and I am immediately transported back to my summers in Schwenksville at Camp Kweebec. (Also included in this group of memories: the one summer I spent on an all-camping teen tour out West with one of my bunkmates, and the summer she and I don’t like to discuss because my parents sent me to a “nicer” camp under duress.) So here is my camp playlist timeline,  starting the summer when I was a junior camper and ending when I was a group leader and counselor. Ah, the memories. 1977: “I Just Want to Be Your …

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Must Reads From Wolitzer and Greene on Infidelity, Academia and Wifery

The words we use in English for spouses of opposite gender do not simply indicate sex (e.g., “epouse” and “mari” in French), but also denote a power system that dates back to when the word “husband” came into common use around the 13th century. Previously, the verb “to husband” meant to carefully use or manage something, such as a resource, and was often used in the context of breeding animals and farming land. When the concept of romantic love became a popular trend in medieval Europe, authorities married it to (see what I did there?) the idea that someone had to be “In Charge.” Guess who it got to be? We’ve been living with inequality between husbands and wives ever since (and beforehand, too, but the words were different). Husbands were legally their wives’ owners until the 19th century. While I’m here to write about books and not give you a long history lesson, I think all of this is important to the two stories I’m writing about today. My Frontlist title, which came out just …

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Buried in the Sand: 3 Novels Explore Fraught Friendships

In Front-to-Backlist, we take one or more present-day titles (sometimes bestsellers/buzzed about, sometimes not) and tell you why they’re terrific — then share another book from the past that you might enjoy too. There are so many angles to friendship, which really means there are so many sharp places on which to injure one’s self. Good friendships, from the kind that are purely fun and superficial to the deep, lifelong ones, feed us and help us to grow, while bad friendships, including nasty frenemies and toxic hangers on, can lead us to the brink of madness. Emily Gould’s new novel, Friendship, talks about the stuff of modern friendships. Thirty-something besties Bev and Amy have seen each other through some tough times, but are now in such different places they might not recognize each other’s Instagram feeds. Referring to a social-media site is deliberate, of course; much of former blogger (Gawker, etc.) Gould’s life has been lived out loud online. While this book shows her still yakking (there are many thinly veiled references to her real …

How to Find the Best Second-Hand Culinary Items

Occasionally, I fantasize about getting out of the incredibly competitive racket that is food writing. I’d put my second-hand shopping gene into high gear and hang a different kind of shingle — as a local merchant. The shop would stock gently used kitchenware and cookbooks. There might be a small lunch counter serving strong coffee, grilled cheese, soup of the day and a really good cookie. First person I’d hire is my mom, a former antiques shopkeeper and the subject of “Confessions of a Garage Sale Addict,” an April 1973 story that ran in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Susan wasn’t much of a cook (I’m working on it), but she was and remains a master at spotting the choicest relics from a second-hand/vintage haystack. It takes a special kind of crazy to bring home a 500-pound oak icebox for display in the living room. Together, we’d comb the world of fleas, estates, garages, attics and basements for all things culinary and kitchen-y to fill the shelves. But we’re a picky pair; we’d buy as if outfitting …

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The Survivor and the Companion: Two Views into Breast Cancer

There are plenty of descriptions in books of boobs, breasts, bosoms, fun bags, melons, bazongas, nice racks and so on. However, there aren’t as many books devoted to them as a subject. Our female mammalian pectoral appendages, which take up so much of our time and male attention, don’t get taken seriously as often as they should. Until something goes wrong. While we’ve all laughed about our chest problems and protectors — the books that stay with me about breasts are the ones about breast cancer. And the best of the recent books about breast cancer is absolutely, positively A Breast Cancer Alphabet by Madhulika Sikka in which the author, a prominent DC news executive, details her experience with the disease. Diagnosed in 2010, Sikka had access to the best information and services, but found she still had questions, anxieties, fears, joys, highs and lows. Hers is not the story of a warrior in pink or a victim in denial; it’s a real, modern woman’s honest, open record of what really happens when your secondary …

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Two Books About the “Other” Parent

Do fathers matter? I’m a woman married to a man who is the father of our two children, so I have an answer to that question (indubitably yes!), but that doesn’t mean my sample audience is one of proper scientific breadth or depth. Fortunately, someone else has asked that question, and answered it with good strong research. Do Fathers Matter? What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked by Paul Raeburn is filled with anecdotes about how and why fathers matter in the lives of boys and girls. It’s a book whose time has come. I’ve grown so weary of the term “mommy blogger” and its attendant connotations of maternity as all encompassing and all powerful. (And yes, I acknowledge that many of the best “mommy bloggers” acknowledge and celebrate their male and female co-parents; I just wish more of them did so.) If we truly desire a third wave of feminism, one that encompasses all humans, then we need to examine what male parents (straight and gay and trans) bring to the …

Tasty Life: You Gotta Meet My Girl, Za’atar

Try defining the word “tasty.” Can you do it objectively? Even word arbiters have trouble being impartial — one of the Merriam-Webster entries defines tasty as “having a good flavor.” Good according to whom?  When it comes to matters of the palate, there is no boss of you. There’s no right or wrong answer, and my “tasty” may be worlds apart from yours (especially if it involves a half-inch of jarred mayonnaise in between two pieces of white toast). Who am I to judge if white goop makes your world spin? As my father — who passed more than 30 years ago — used to say, “That’s why there’s vanilla and chocolate, Kimberly.” Tasty is the truth — as you know it — Ruth, and no matter how much our respective versions of the truth may vary, we all are in its pursuit. A life without tasty seems like a life half-baked, after all. To that end, and because I spend most of my waking hours in the pursuit of flavor, I will be sharing …

My Mac and Cheese Obsession (And a Recipe To Die For)

Oh, your curves: I trace them with the tip of my tongue. Your milky pale form, your creaminess. I close my eyes and nibble, just a bit. And then I shove a giant spoonful into my mouth. Oh mac and cheese. I objectify it like a really fine, tan Southern man from Tennessee wearing nothing but cowboy boots and a Four Roses Bourbon t-shirt. Mac and cheese is good even when it’s bad. Kinda like French fries and sex. [pullquote]Drop it on the ground and I will eat it. I will use either the five-second rule or the five-hour rule if that makes you feel better.[/pullquote] You see, being a mac and cheese aficionado does not make me a mac and cheese snob. If you’re one of those Velveeta haters, stop reading right now. That shit is not from this earth whatsoever, but many cooks agree it’s essential to an amazing, creamy dish. I’m easy like Sunday morning when it comes to mac and cheese recipes. I don’t care what kind of cheese is used …

Taco Tuesday: A Spicy, South of the Border-Style Tradition

Taco Tuesday is a tradition in warm weather climates (and beyond) across America. It’s an excellent excuse to kick back with a margarita and chow down on a quintessential Mexican food staple. Since I’m from Arizona (and half-Mexican), tacos are comfort food, celebration food, a simple dinner during the week and part of a fiesta of dishes for weekend dinner parties. In other words, there’s always a good time for tacos. The contents of my fridge center around this principle: At any one time, I can rustle up two things: homemade chicken noodle soup and tacos. Whether it’s for illness or dinner, I’m prepared. This means that a homemade roasted chicken (or store bought rotisserie chicken) features prominently in the line-up every couple of weeks so that I can cook the carcass for soup and freeze the leftover chicken meat for tacos or enchiladas. There is generally a packet of organic ground beef in the freezer as well. One of the great pleasures in life is preparing and sharing a good meal with good people. …

Feeling Your Eats: Memoirs Chronicle Life With Food

I once wrote an entire blog post about the difference between “memoirs with recipes” and “memoirs, with recipes.” It’s the latter that I prefer, books in which recipes are not the main course, but a sweet lagniappe appended to excellent, incisive writing. So when I learned that this week’s TueNight theme was “Tasty,” one book sprang immediately to mind: Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by novelist Kate Christensen, which was recently released in paperback. In her prologue, Christensen (The Epicure’s Lament, The Great Man), says: “Food is a subterranean conduit to sensuality, memory, desire, but it opens the eater to all of it without changing anything.” To change something through eating requires the eater to connect the conduit to its source — and that can be painful. No wonder Christensen’s first included recipe is called “Dark Night of the Soul Soup.” All of her appetites are addressed in Blue Plate Special, including those a lesser artist might have chosen to discreetly gloss over, like her adolescent fumblings towards domestic normalcy in a …

Two Easy-to-Create Summer Treats — Perfect If You Hate Cooking

I’m so not a cook. Unlike my husband, I get no joy from poring over cookbooks, searching for spices, flipping steaks or stirring pots. But I do get a little glory now and then due to these foolproof, crowd-pleasing recipes I’ve learned to perfect. They’re guaranteed to wow summertime guests with very little effort. So if, like me, you’re not a culinary queen, try making one or both of these warm-weather winners. Blueberry Vodka Yes, you need to think ahead to conjure up this fruity cocktail, but it’s worth the two-to-three-week prep time, especially if you’re hosting a party. This drink is all about its color, so make sure you serve it in clear glasses to highlight the libation’s pretty hue. Serves about 10-12 (one cocktail each) Ingredients Blueberries (at least six pints) Vodka (750ml bottle). No need to spring for top-shelf stuff — any decent brand will do. We usually use Skyy. Directions 1. Place the blueberries in a large pitcher, then pour the vodka over them (you may need to split between two pitchers if you don’t have …

How a Backyard Obsession Turned Into a Supper Club

Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, I spent most of my time outside: swimming in the pool, eating charred hot dogs and fudgsicles in the grass, swinging from the diseased sycamore tree. It was my (hated) job to mow the lawn, year round. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve cut the grass in 114 degree heat. You will see God in a sweat-and-dehydration-fueled hallucination. You will also smell God in the scent of the freshly cut grass clippings — earthy, vegetal, sweet and lemony. I spent a lot of time twirling around in circles and then falling to the grass to watch the sky spin, and playing dodge ball with the kids down the street. It wasn’t until I moved to New York City that I realized how much life outside mattered to me, and would shape not just my neighborhood and apartment choice, but my entire life and career. It was a bumpy entry into NYC 17 years ago, starting with sublets and ending in a 6th floor walk-up with a talented, though narcissistic, artist …

The 8 Types of Imperfect Moms in Literature

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone, because whether or not you’re a mother — and whether or not that’s okay with you — we all come from mothers, whether those mothers are perfect or not. That’s why my Frontlist pick this week is Robin O’Bryant’s Ketchup Is A Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves, a collection of her columns from her popular Robin’s Chicks blog. Yes, O’Bryant is funny, fierce and honest, and more on her delightful writing in a moment. However, she had me at her subtitle. “Lies Moms Tell Themselves” — was there ever a more truthful phrase? In order to get through the process of childrearing, mothers have to tell themselves quite a few lies. For example: “I am ready to face another day changing this tiny tyrant’s waste-filled diapers.” (And I made that one up all by myself!) More important than anything O’Bryant has to say on potty training, breastfeeding, the chaos of the dinner hour and postpartum depression, more important even than her honesty, is the fact that she’s funny without …

Four Money-Friendly Films and One Flat Broke Buster

In which we explore the filmic concerns of a given theme, and find new and novel ways of putting together yet another Internet-based list of movies. The wrinkle here, is our fifth pick will actually serve to prove as the counter argument, the best representation of the direct opposite of our theme. 1. Friends With Money (2006) Director: Nicole Holofcener Gist: Three longtime female friends (Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack and Catherine Keener), all of whom are married and quite wealthy, work to maintain their bonds while the fourth member of this tight-knit group (Jennifer Anniston), a cash-poor woman who used to be a teacher, quits her job and takes work as a maid. Currency: Income, earned or otherwise. The three wealthy women all get their funding from different sources: Franny (Cusack) is a stay-at-home mom sitting on a huge trust fund; Christine (Keener), is a successful TV writer; Jane (McDormand) is a fashion designer. Olivia struggles to make any kind of living whatsoever. Expenditure: Despite the trio’s wealth and success, their respective marriages are fraught with difficulties. Franny’s husband is an …

Four Pristine Films and One Covered in Filth

In which we explore the filmic concerns of a given theme, and find new and novel ways of putting together yet another Internet-based list of movies. The wrinkle here, is our fifth pick will actually serve to prove as the counter argument, the best representation of the direct opposite of our theme.  1. Mary Poppins (1964) Director: Robert Stevenson Essential Characters: Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews), Bert (Dick Van Dyke), Mr. Banks (David Tomlinson) Basic Gist: Into a mournful house of sad children living in disarray with their bored mother and cold, emotionally vacant father, comes the vibrant, sing-songy Poppins, who descends to the family on an umbrella, sings a great deal, and teaches the lot of them how to embrace life’s travails and flourish. Tidy Type: Physical and emotional. Poppins teaches the children how to clean things up and get organized — which notably makes them instantly happier — but also how to enjoy their lives, freeing their beleaguered father in the process. Cleanliness Quotient (1-10): A solid 8, though we’re talking emotional clutter rather …

Four Well-Coiffed Films and One Smooth Shaven Sci-Fi Flick

In which we explore the filmic concerns of a given theme, and find new and novel ways of putting together yet another Internet-based list of movies. The wrinkle here, is our fifth pick will actually serve to prove as the counter argument, the best representation of the direct opposite of our theme. 1. Amélie (2001) Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet Gist: A sweetly innocent young woman (Audrey Tautou) moves to central Paris and takes on a life of selflessness and generosity in order to find love. The Hair: A ’20s-style bob, with fringe bangs. The Entanglement (Conflict): All her giving ends up taking away from Amélie’s ability to give to herself. Only when she learns to actively want things for herself does the possibility of love become reality. The Conditioner (Legacy): A timeless ‘do that still evokes the roaring, carefree spirit of the era that made it famous, it suggests a woman who enjoys a good time on the dance floor and doesn’t mind knocking a hair or two out of place in the process of throwing down …

Books to Enhance Your Green Thumb

Much of my life that remains analog is abetted by the internet. If I want to cook old-school braised short ribs, I can order all of the ingredients online for doorstep delivery. My shelves are groaning with paper books that I’ve ordered from web sites. I can also order seeds and plants online for that most analog of activities: gardening. Yes, there are tools for gardening, both hi- and low-tech, including lawn mowers, trowels and software to organize your annuals and perennials. But eventually, every gardener has to get her hands dirty. Thank goodness! Talk about connecting with something elemental. So my frontlist pick for you this week is Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall. Wall’s memoir of her slow, enriching friendship with a neighbor’s Kenyan gardener is the kind of book that sounds too sweet but winds up being just right. Giles Owita has more to share with Wall than plant advice, and Wall has more to give …