If I were a clever blogger, I’d write this entry in the style of “Ulysses,” but sorry — I haven’t read it. (Lance Mannion, take it away!) Always wanted to. Hope to, someday. But on numerous tries, I’ve failed to get much past stately, plump Buck Mulligan, and you know where he shows up.
Once, in a newsroom far, far away, I admitted to never reading “Ulysses.”
“Really?” asked one of my colleagues archly. “You haven’t?” Like this was unusual.
“Really. Have you?”
“Oh, sure,” she said. I asked when.
“Oh, you know…” She fluttered her hand a bit. “High school.”
The smoke alarms trembled as the fumes of her burning pants wafted through the room. She knew enough about “Ulysses” to know she’d made a grave mistake. No one reads “Ulysses” in high school, even a great one. An ambitious teacher might do a side unit on the book for honors students with a few excerpts, but face it — the book is the Mt. Everest of literature for a reason.
The Columbus Dispatch book critic once announced he was going to read it, and just to make sure he finished, he was going to read it in public, a chapter a week, discussing it in a weekly column he called Nighttown Journal. He got through, I believe, chapter three, maybe four. Then Nighttown Journal quietly disappeared. I e-mailed him once, asking if he ever finished it. His reply was sheepish. You know what he said.
On Bloomsday — June 16, the day upon which the events of the novel occur, for you non-English majors — celebrations are held throughout Dublin, including public readings at places mentioned in the text. Our own John C, who lived in Detroit until recently, suggested we do something similar in October, on Elmore Leonard’s birthday. Call it Dutch Day, and lead a group on an odyssey through the city, stopping at places mentioned in his books to read aloud. I think this is a tremendous idea. For one thing, I’ve actually read all the books involved.
Yesterday I had a bit of business to do at a shopping center right around lunchtime, and found myself passing under the exhaust vents at a well-known Chinese chain restaurant distinguished by twin horses at the front door. It didn’t smell greasy, it smelled grill-y and delicious. Friends, I may be the last American extant to have never eaten there, so it was time to rectify the situation. We have terrible Chinese food choices in the Pointes, and I’ve been jonesin’ for some chicken fried rice forever. So I went in and ordered the very same.
Twelve minutes later, the waitress deposited a five-gallon bucket of it under my nose.
It’s been a long time since I had my first portion-size shock, at a Mexican chain place. To be sure, it was mostly lettuce. Then came Bucca di Beppo, but they at least say up front that the dishes are meant to be shared. But it doesn’t take a genius to make a few connections, and one is: Restaurant meals in general have many more calories than their homemade equivalents. People eat more restaurant meals every year, for a variety of reasons. Put them together and you get a reasonable answer to the question posed by Richard Simmons’ vanity license plate: YRUFAT?
I try to be a libertarian about some things, but I have my limits. If they’re going to serve this much in one portion, then I want to see a calorie count on the menu. (Best online estimate: 960.) Sorry, folks, but you’re part of the problem. And don’t give me that “our customers want it” crap. Portion size is determined by economies of scale. Rice is cheap, and it’s easy to cover it with flavorful fat, serve it by the truckload and charge $7.50 a plate for a food cost of probably less than a buck.
I ate less than half. The rest is in my refrigerator. And I’m not going back. I resent being slopped like a hawg.
Bloggage: Everybody knows the Michigan tax incentive is leading to lots of film production here, but it wasn’t until yesterday I learned that scripts are now being vetted for content, and — sorry — but cannibalism is now out:
“This film is unlikely to promote tourism in Michigan or to present or reflect Michigan in a positive light,” wrote Janet Lockwood, Michigan’s film commissioner. Ms. Lockwood particularly objected to “this extreme horror film’s subject matter, namely realistic cannibalism; the gruesome and graphically violent depictions described in the screenplay; and the explicit nature of the script.”
Yes, no one will come to Michigan if they think we’re lousy with cannibals, but have you seen the calorie counts at that Chinese joint lately? Whew, through the roof. Rustic man-pig is far more slimming. Anyway, the NYT Cityroom blog asks where cinema would be if New York had such picky standards:
King Kong (1933)
After arriving in New York via luxury steamer, the giant simian genially poses for photographs while held in mock chains at his Broadway unveiling. At a subsequent cocktail party in his honor, Kong briefly dons a waiter’s white jacket (it didn’t quite fit, to say the least!) and hands out canapes to startled and then amused guests. Later he takes a stroll through the city and discovers that the elevated trains are experiencing a bottleneck near 30th Street. Using hand signals, he helps clear it up, receiving a jaunty wave from a thankful conductor in response. Finally, he scales the Empire State Building to take in the view, cleaning a few windows and reaching into one woman’s apartment to help her arrange her furniture, before arriving at the top, where he is joined by Ann Darrow. The two take in the dawn while discussing their hopes and dreams for the future.
Ha. Off to the salt mines. God knows who wants to take a bite out of me today.