Scary germs.

Roger Ebert grades on the curve, and by genre, which can sometimes surprise the novice reader, perhaps when flashy trash like “Point Break” gets three and a half stars. (The fact that movie was released in 1991 and I still remember its star rating should tell you something about how personally I take shit like this.) He’s been tough on Steven Soderbergh, like a parent disappointed that a child is not working up to his potential. One of my fondest movie memories was the year we got eight inches of snow on Christmas eve, scuttling our holiday driving plans, and leaving me to snuggle under Kate’s brand-new sleeping bag on the couch and watch “Ocean’s 11” on HBO, which I enjoyed immensely as a perfect little soap bubble of a summer movie. Ebert gave it three stars, and this dismissal: “I enjoyed it. It didn’t shake me up and I wasn’t much involved, but I liked it as a five-finger exercise. Now it’s time for Soderbergh to get back to work.”

He was similarly sort of meh about “Contagion,” which Kate and I saw last weekend and I loved. I think it’s because I can no longer suspend disbelief to watch the vast majority of thrillers; I have to believe in paranormal activity, or exorcism, or that women walk into creepy dark houses in the dead of night, or that cars can jump off freeways and land in drivable condition, or explosions can be outrun, or whatever.

But “Contagion” thrills by being fictional but absolutely realistic and utterly believable, which means I was well and truly freaked out. A particularly nasty flu virus, trailing central nervous system complications, gets into one woman, who infects three continents in one night of business socializing in Asia, and things go downhill from there. Social disintegration is one of those things I sometimes think about as a large-metro-area resident, although we should all think about it. Fact: Three months before the Y2K milestone, a large water main broke in Fort Wayne, disrupting water service to a big chunk of the north side. Within hours, residents were shoving one another in grocery aisles, fighting over the bottled water. Northeast Indiana has a wide streak of homespun paranoia, but I thought that was a remarkable turn of events for a place that’s generally friendly and neighborly.

We all know what happened during Katrina. Does anybody think a killer flu wouldn’t have the same effect?

Anyway, if you liked the “Traffic” part of Soderbergh’s back catalog, you’ll like “Contagion.” Nothing like watching a scene of American corpses being shoveled into mass graves to light up an October evening. I should also note this is the second Soderbergh film in my memory to feature a blogger as the bad guy. Not the bad guy — that would give them too much credit and screen time — but as a certain type of bottom-feeding sleazebag scuttling through society’s basement. “Blogging is graffiti with punctuation,” one character tells another. Hey, I resemble that remark. But I still really liked “Contagion.”

I was rolling through town yesterday, doing this and that, listening to my local NPR station, when I heard a soundbite from the Sunday chatfests, Michele Bachmann bringing the Krazy:

“I believe that Iraq should reimburse the United States fully for the amount of money that we have spent to liberate these people,” said Rep. Bachmann in an appearance Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” …“We are there as the nation that liberated these people,” she said. “And that’s the thanks that the United States is getting? After 4,400 lives were expended and over $800 billion? And so on the way out, we are being kicked out of the country? I think this is absolutely outrageous.”

You know what I think? I think Bachmann should change her name to Andrew Dice Clay and hit the comedy circuit. Stupid, offensive, thuddingly unfunny — who would even notice the difference from the original?

“These people,” she says. There must be a formal term for that form of address — the direct accusative, perhaps. “You people” is the more common form; remember when Ross Perot got raked over that one? He was speaking to a largely black audience, and said something like, “And who pays the most when that happens? You people.” Utterly unjustified, that charge, and taken entirely out of context. If he’d said “you guys,” no one would have even noticed. I recall the incident mainly because it was the day one of my lemon-faced, right-wing colleagues made a truly funny newsroom quip about it:

“See, if he’d said, ‘People of you,’ he’d have been fine.”

OK, time to get moving on what promises to be a ridiculously busy day, but not in a bad way, if that makes any sense. How about some bloggage:

Here’s a little something for my homosexual friends. And everyone else who enjoys a good barn-dance song.

Here’s something I wrote for a local public-policy magazine. It promises to be of interest to approximately .02 percent of you — Michigan teacher contract negotiations and education funding, whoo — but click on it anyway, so they throw me another assignment.

New York magazine is looking at food television all week. In the opening installment, Adam Platt writes:

Back in the distant, quaintly mannered era of Jacques Pépin and Julia Child, cooking shows were a guilty pleasure, enjoyed by a handful of high-minded home cooks and the occasional obsessive, fatso schoolboy (like me). But in the last fifteen years, that equation has dramatically flipped. It’s the non-cooks now who tune in to see Emeril Lagasse’s latest recipe, then rush out by the millions to purchase the latest signature frying pan endorsed by Bobby Flay.

Yes, I’d agree with that, because the target market for designer cookware is almost entirely non-cooks. Real cooks pick it up at their garage sales a few years later.

It’s about to rain, and I have to take out the trash. Happy Tuesday to all.

Posted at 8:46 am in Current events, Movies |

54 responses to “Scary germs.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 25, 2011 at 8:55 am

    And that (potential societal disruption), not end-times reasons, is why the LDS/Mormon church calls on members to always have at least three months or even a year’s worth of supplies on hand. Goes back to Deseret days, and the sense that if you know you can take care of your basic needs, you will more readily then spend time thinking of deeper things.

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  2. Candlepick said on October 25, 2011 at 9:16 am

    If you’ve ever seen Sarah Silverman stay in character, you know there’s an opportunity for a comic to do a Michele Bachmann character–and said comic would have so much verbatim material that she’d never have to write a minute.

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  3. coozledad said on October 25, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I still remember when the Republicans were pitching that war as “George Bush: Bringin’ ‘mocracy to sand dwellers!” And its libertaritard subtext: “Money train leavin’ the station. Git on! Git on!”
    If you couldn’t see the monumental catastrophe coming and were blind to nemesis moving to grab that bigass flyswatter, you were a stupid prick. Amway might be good at shaking down white trash, but it doesn’t travel well.
    So now that we’ve lost our first Punic war, Michele still thinks we get to sow Carthage with salt.
    She ain’t no motherfucking Scipio of Africa, but she’s got the -anus part down pretty good.

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  4. Judybusy said on October 25, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Looks like some of the commenters on the farm video took it seriously. Not sure if I should; I don’t know which way Lewis and Lewis lean….

    Wow, that IS krazy by Bachmann! I mean, they invited us and everything. The nerve.

    A friend and I saw Contagion and were underwhelmed. Things get bad,then they got better.

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  5. Bitter Scribe said on October 25, 2011 at 10:09 am

    So…we’re supposed to stay in Iraq until we’re properly thanked?

    Etiquette as a foreign policy principle. Who knew.

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  6. Jolene said on October 25, 2011 at 10:16 am

    This past Sunday was a high-water mark in terms of Republicans saying stupid shit on TV. Bachmann’s remarks were only the looniest of a large set of comments on how the president has undermined national security by announcing that all US troops will be withdrawn from Iraq at the end of the year–according to the schedule established by GWB. Then Mitch McConnell, AKA the Evil Turtle, referred to the idea of appropriating federal funds to pay state and local employees as “a bailout for the states.” It’s becoming increasingly difficult to resist throwing my shoes at them.

    Sheesh! Just now, Santorum referred to the Obama administration as “the most hostile to faith” of any in our history. Why? Where do such ideas come from?

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  7. John G. Wallace said on October 25, 2011 at 10:29 am

    In terms of Contagion I don’t think the social unrest aspect was realistic – I think it would have been much worse given what they knew about the virus at the time and the long waits for the vaccine. Things stayed pretty orderly, even when the food drops clearly weren’t bringing enough for everyone.
    The financial markets would have collapsed, and even after the vaccine had been distributed there would have been a period of reconstruction and responsibility. It wouldn’t have taken much for a larger collapse – troops firing on the hungry,etc.
    I harken back to the ultimate plague novel,The Stand. Even if Capt.Trips was deadly, and the virus in contagion was not as lethal (but still pretty lethal) and you strip out the supernatural and good vs. evil theme, the words of the General in The Stand remain true: the center will not hold.

    The science in the movie was very well done- people learned things without it becoming boring or unwatchable. I liked the film, but I think once you turn a corner on a collapsing society it’s a fast trip downhill with both feet on the gas.

    The water main break you referenced – what actions if any did the city take to address the unrest? Or was it like snowstorm mode there or hurricane mode here (which it’s about to be AGAIN). There’s no substitute for having some level of plans, preparation, and stored canned goods. I think of those people with the ice storms a few years ago, or even the lessons learned from the two storms that raced through here in 2004. My aunt and uncle had just moved here and spent a good month without power,flushing toilets, A/C, showers, and had to rely on bags of ice, cases of water,and MRE’s all handed out by FEMA and the national guard.

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  8. coozledad said on October 25, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Hip-pocket songsmith Lloyd Marcus going Superfly Elvis on Herman Cain.

    I prefer Curtis Mayfield.

    Hey, hey.
    Oh, no.
    You shittin’ me?
    Uh, oh.

    Herman Cain
    That’s who they’re sayin’
    Let the GOPers plan
    said they’d see him home
    But soap on a rope
    was already ridin
    the shortbus to Bekistan

    See there’s a blindness to this man
    I’m sure most folks agree
    You can point his face at the eyechart
    but you ain’t gonna make him see

    Herman Cain
    is short 1 brain

    Hey, everybody’s misquoted.
    Fed corndogs till they’re bloated
    But here’s another Koch bros. play:
    Roping dopes with Cassius Clay!
    There’s a terrible chance
    he can’t fasten his pants
    “Good God, He’s standing on the corner now.
    Hope he don’t pop a boner, now
    Remembrin’ Sarah Palin.”

    Ticket is crawlin’ with Gomers
    Ain’t no-one hittin no homers
    Romney’s mama said “Boy, you a jerk!
    Magic underwear, how do they work?”

    But no-one’s sayin’.
    Cause Herman Cain.

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  9. nancy said on October 25, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Good points, John, and I guess my answer would be that Soderbergh tends to keep his focus tight, for many reasons, but in this case probably because he spent his budget on great actors top to bottom, and opted to look at the micro of a father panicking over two teenagers trying to steal a few kisses in the snow over a macro of a rioting city.

    As for the water-main break in Fort Wayne, it wasn’t really “unrest” in the usual sense. I think most people kept their heads, and the fights at Scott’s were between a handful of whack jobs who were already hunkered down for Y2K, and saw this as a dress rehearsal.

    Back to “Contagion” — I was struck by David Denby’s observation that when bad shit happens, it’s the reality-based community who stays hard at work, rather than faking vlogs about the efficacy of homeopathic remedies.

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  10. Jen said on October 25, 2011 at 10:52 am

    My husband and I just watched the first season of “The Walking Dead,” which is about life after a zombie plague. Zombies are the cool thing right now, and some of it is just silliness (think zombie walks in cities and stuff like that), but there is also an undercurrent of seriousness there. It definitely gets you thinking about human nature and the nature of society, and what happens when that breaks down. Also, zombies are REALLY scary. I can watch vampires and werewolves in movies forever and just laugh at them, but zombies scare the crap out of me. I haven’t seen “Contagion,” mostly because I have the tendency to be quite the hypochondriac, but it really intrigued me.

    Re: Bachmann, I know it’s not exactly the same situation, but the first thing I thought of when she said that Iraq should reimburse the U.S. was the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, when we told Germany they had to pay reparations. That did not go terribly well, because it screwed their economy and royally pissed off the Germans. That helped pave the way for Hitler and the Nazis to rise to power, and we all know how well that turned out for everyone.

    Obviously, it’s more complicated than that in Iraq, and it was more complicated than that in Germany, too, but there’s a historical lesson to be learned nonetheless.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on October 25, 2011 at 11:04 am

    It’s been long enough ago that I don’t remember the city’s response, but short enough that we keep jugs of water in the basement. Even when they get too old to drink they can still be used to flush. Old city, old pipes–we’ve had several breaks in the years since, though none that large or long.

    My Florida sister has lived through those big hurricanes so she keeps a huge supply of food, water, batteries, camp stove, weather radio, etc. I think the longest time she needed them for was two weeks, which is a lot of canned tuna and peanut butter. Mom & I also pick up used paperbacks to send her so she has something to keep her slightly distracted.

    Jolene, I’m with you on the shoe-throwing. Mitch McConnell is scary mean. More I’ve got mine, screw you politics.

    Edit: I forgot to ask the vomit quotient in Contagion. Even hearing retching makes my tummy want to join in.

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  12. Peter said on October 25, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Jen, my US history can be sketchy, but if I remember correctly it was the US who didn’t want reparations – it was the English, and especially the French, who wanted to sub the loser’s nose in it.

    Reparations helped the rise of Hitler in more ways than one. I’ve read several accounts of the Depression where Hoover was starting to get things going -kind of like now – but then in 1931 Austria’s Credit-Anstalt collapsed, bringing down that country’s economy, which had a domino effect that really caused the economy to go into the toilet. Kind of like now with the Greek economy on the brink. And the reason for the Austrian default? Couldn’t make the reparations payment and couldn’t renegotiate it with the lenders.

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  13. Linda said on October 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Hee. Your remark about non-cooks holding up the high-end cookware market is too true. And my sister, cook extraordinaire, is snapping them up later.

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  14. Kath said on October 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    The barnyard song was hilarious. But I think the singer has not spent much time on farms lately. Most cattle today are conceived via artificial insemination, which makes the cows de facto lesbians.

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  15. caliban said on October 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Sex, Lies and Videotape is most likely the most onanistic and asinine movie ever made by a self-proclaimed auteur. What’s worse, it turned James Spader, a worthwhile screen creep, into a joke, that would actually appear in Secretary, presumably because he wanted to spank Maggie Gyllenhaal. That movie was execrable. What good movie has Soderbergh made? Traffic was decent, but like a pale imitation of Babel. Remaking Solaris, which was a snooze-fest to begin with?

    Michelle is just sticking with the party bullshit. Wolfowitz said many times the invasion would pay for itself, starting way back when PNAC tried to talk Clinton into that Iraq invasion idiocy. If people are too damn stupid to understand that two invasions, two occupations, and massive tax cuts, together with deregulation of the greediest assholes without conscience on the face of the earth screwed the economy pooch, and think it was electing a MauMau anti-colonialist instead that caused problems, disenfranchisement for you. Too fucking stupid to vote. Too much monkey business.

    John G. Financial markets collapse when it profits the aholes that manipulate them for profit. Plainly and simply. Haven’t seen Contagion and will probably wait for three nights in a row on TNT, but A particularly nasty flu virus, trailing central nervous system complications? I think Steven King already did that, to pretty great effect.

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  16. LAMary said on October 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve yet to see someone with the jazzy kitchen stuff actually cook. The more expensive the stove, fridge, cookware and small appliances, the less actual cooking gets done.
    I confess I own a LeCreuset Dutch oven. It would cost nearly 500 dollars now, but I got it as a gift about 25 years ago. I have random other LeCreuset pots and pans, all from thrift stores and garage sales.

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  17. Heather said on October 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Yeah, if Mark Bittman says all you need (basically) is a working stove, a good knife, and a few pots n’ pans, that’s good enough for me. There are a few specialty things I would like to get, but I don’t really need them. What I do need: a good strainer. I keep forgetting to buy one. On the other hand, I just got my knife sharpened! There’s a guy who comes to the farmers’ markets in Chicago to do it and he also set up shop in a local cheese and wine store. Four bucks.

    I read somewhere–I think it was in Slate–that said Soderbergh gets great performances out of some actors who might not otherwise be so good. Watching “Out of Sight” is like seeing a whole Jennifer Lopez career that didn’t happen. I liked “Contagion.” And I think it would take very little for people to go nuts without utilities and fresh water. People can’t even handle life without air conditioning.

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  18. LAMary said on October 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Here in the land of seismic surprises we all keep water, food and flashlights handy.

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  19. Julie Robinson said on October 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Some hurricanes have lasted several days. Just imagine being inside, in the heat and dark, listening to the winds howl and wondering what damage is being done. Especially if you live alone. It gives me a righteous case of the willies.

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  20. Sherri said on October 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    The US wasn’t really interested in imposing massive reparations on the Germans; after all, the US wasn’t really affected by WWI. However, the US was interested in Great Britain and France repaying the huge war debts they owed the US, and that wasn’t going to be possible without reparations.

    Two great books on the aftermath of WWI: “Paris 1919” by Margaret MacMillan (on the political machinations of the Treaty of Versailles), and “Lords of Finance” by Liaquat Ahamed (on the financial aftermath and how mistakes made by the central bankers in the 20s led to the Great Depression).

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  21. Dexter said on October 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Just jumping in here after watching the hillbilly farmer and his wife sing their little ditty, so I can make this an on-topic addition. Yesterday I heard an interview with this super-interesting transgendered person. I know this would be a great read:

    …and somebody here at nn.c is having a birthday tomorrow…more later! (facebook alerts rule!)

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  22. Yusifu said on October 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Just from a lurker, so take it as you will. I’m with the youtube commentators in not finding the Lewis and Lewis video clever satire. It’s clever in being cheery and degrading simultaneously. I may be humorless, but this is from their website: ‘Homosexuality runs rampant in the land, even demanding the right to be joined in “holy matrimony“. Some states and judges have agreed and bowed to their lewd ungodly demands. A few may gripe and complain, but the church does nothing. There will come a time when it will be illegal to preach against gays, adultery or any other moral sin. Political correctness demands that no one be offended…unless of course it’s a Christian! Some of our politicians just recently attempted to pass “hate speech” legislation making it illegal to address these subjects from the pulpit.’

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  23. caliban said on October 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Jennifer Lopez is excellent in The Cell, an under-rated movie. And she was pretty convincing as the revenge murderess in Enough. Great, well-deserved ass-kicking. She seems like a nice woman, and fairly talented, and I’ve never understood why people give her all sorts of shit.

    Anybody ever see Mark Bittman actually cook? LAMary, yo on the Dutch oven. Absolutely essential for spaghetti sauce and chili. Mine matches my cabinets. But that sucker weighs about 40 lbs. I’ve also got an OXO (good company) mandoline, but to me that is more of a way cool tool than a cooking implement. Cutting boards are crucial, as are knives. I’ve got a sharpener (also by OXO) for my knives (yep, Henckels, purchased one at a time) and use it whenever I’m about to slice tomatoes, peppers and Vidalias.

    When the GOPers and true blue looneys like the Pauls rail against education as a function of government, does it ever dawn on their mediocre brains that the GOP invented land grant colleges? Do these idiots know Nixon is the one when it comes to the EPA and OSHA? And was there ever any intention other than killing Medicare behind Buddy Roemer’s prescription drug benefit (well, that and making Buddy really, really rich)?

    Julie, we’re in what should be hurricane country, but God put Myrtle a few hours north, and it’s like trailerparks to tornados. But “when bad shit happens” there is always a “heckuva job Brownie” to make it better.

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  24. alex said on October 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Some of our politicians just recently attempted to pass “hate speech” legislation making it illegal to address these subjects from the pulpit.

    Good lord, is Dwight back under a new nom de keyboard?

    What’s the world coming to when even Pat Robertson thinks the base of the GOP is insane?

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  25. LAMary said on October 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I like the dutch oven for searing and braising. I bought a boneless turkey breast the other day and decided to sear and braise rather than risk dried out tough turkey tit in the oven. Seared it. Added some chicken stock and white wine, a little garlic, sage, rosemary, black pepper and a bay leaf to the liquid and let it low simmer for about an hour and a half. It turned out really well.

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  26. alex said on October 25, 2011 at 3:19 pm


    I have a Le Creuset dutch oven in bright orange. I bought it for myself. It’s my favorite piece of cookware. Ever.

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  27. Bitter Scribe said on October 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    The only piece of “expensive cookware” I might be interested in is one of those George Foreman grills with the plates you can detach and pop in the dishwasher. I’ve scrubbed the grease off the fixed plates of my current Foreman so many times the Teflon coating is almost gone.

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  28. Julie Robinson said on October 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Yum, I’ve been hungry for turkey but it’s been outrageously expensive around here, so I’m waiting for the Thanksgiving deals. Specifically I’m hungry for turkey chowder. When I make it with chicken it just doesn’t taste as good.

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  29. Scout said on October 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I lost the Le Creuset in the divorce. Have never been able to replace it, but I’m always on the lookout at thrift stores and garbage sales. I do have a really fine set of Lifetime stainless cookware. Paid too much, but I do love it.

    Michele is out of the running, thank ya Jeezus; maybe somebody ought to buy her a clue. She needs to put a cork into the crazy and call it a day. We’ve got new nuts to roast now.

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  30. Dorothy said on October 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    alex – I have that same Dutch oven!

    Hey I have a question for the room: How would I go about smoking a couple of turkey legs? We found a recipe for lentil soup that uses smoked turkey and we bought some legs to use in the soup. But I’m a little clueless when it comes to how I should smoke it. Any and all advice is welcome.

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  31. Scout said on October 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Dorothy, you’d probably have the best luck with a pipe, it would probably be too wet to roll it.

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  32. MichaelG said on October 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I buy my kitchen stuff at restaurant supply stores. Good, solid stuff for very reasonable prices. Ross and Marshall’s are also good sources. You can get a white plastic cutting board like they use in restaurants for about $6 at Ross. Buying that designer stuff is a fool’s game.

    In keeping with the medical theme that has floated around here over the last few days, I’m going to have a cataract operation tomorrow. Supposed to be a piece of cake. I’ll let you know.

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  33. John G. Wallace said on October 25, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Dorothy- Without a “proper” smoker you could go the indirect heat route on the grill, with some well soaked wood chips,like the apple or hickory chips sold near the BBQ stuff. they will work on a gas grill also, although you may alarm the neighbors. Set one side or burner up for med-high heat – drop a small handfull of the chips on the flame (some books suggest in a foil pouch above the flame and below the grill surface).
    Put the turkey legs on the other side, cover, and ignore them for a good 35 min, then check and turn. You could also marinate the legs first with just some water or stock, and season with salt & pepper. A drop or so of liquid smoke would be OK.
    Most supermarkets near me (and also back in Indiana) sell the smoked turkey legs in a cryo-pack near the ham stuff. Less work.

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  34. Deborah said on October 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Heather, please tell me the wine and cheese shop where the Chicago knife sharpener works. We saw him often at the Lincoln Park Green Market and kept forgetting to bring our knives. The one time we did, of course he wasn’t there.

    And Littlebird got a set of orange LeCreuset for Christmas one year and uses them all the time.

    I wish I had a gas stove, our building can only have electric. It’s so much better to regulate the heat with gas. That’s the only thing I really wish I had for cooking. Our place in NM will have propane.

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  35. Heather said on October 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Deborah, he was at Provenance in Lincoln Square–I follow the store on Facebook so I saw the announcement when he would be there. Here’s his website:

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  36. alex said on October 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm


    Agreed. The glassware at Crate & Barrel may be prettier, but the stuff from the restaurant supply store is indestructible. I couldn’t tell you how many incomplete sets of pretty glassware I own. The ones I cadged from bars, however, are still going strong.

    Just saw/heard Lewis and Lewis finally—I don’t have sound at work. The song’s kind of cutesy and calls to mind “The Streak,” the old novelty song from the ’70s.

    So they didn’t intend it with kindness? So what. They’re kinda cute as misguided old ignoramuses go. They’d be perfect for our county GOP’s big annual event except the local muckety-mucks already landed someone even more inflammatory who’s sure to resonate with the younger Republican ass-sniffers who spend big to look big.

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  37. LAMary said on October 25, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    My LeCreuset dutch oven is black, but i have random other pieces in yellow, green and orange. Michael’s right about Ross and Marshalls. I’ve found All-Clad in Marshalls at great prices. They also have heavy cast iron enameled dutch ovens with the Cuisinart brand on them for about 50 bucks. I didn’t buy one, but they looked ok. Right now they have some good ones at Costco as well, made in France. I’m thinking they are Staub with a different brand on them, and those are 69 dollars. Not a bad price for a cast iron dutch oven.
    I’ve been picking up odds and ends of serving pieces at Marshalls that are from The Palm, the restaurant. Lots of stark white platters and serving bowls that are really very nicely designed. I have one that looks like a piece of white paper that’s been crumpled and then flattened. Others are lovely oval shapes or large shallow bowls with just enough curve. I think the most expensive thing I saw was 14.99. Oh, and they have sets of six unbleached waffle weave oversized dishtowels for some ridiculously cheap sum.

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  38. Julie Robinson said on October 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Michael G, good luck with your surgery. I helped my mom out with both of hers and the hardest part was that she got freaked out about putting the eyedrops in. Once we got past that all was good. She marveled not just at how clear everything was, but that colors were so much more intense. In fact, her brown purse turned out to be green.

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  39. Jolene said on October 25, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    On TV tonight: Barack Obama chats w/ Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, and Frontline discusses the controversial execution of Gary Todd Willingham. As we recently learned, Rick Perry lost no sleep over this case, but many others have questioned the evidence on which he was convicted.

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  40. Suzanne said on October 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I broke down recently and bought a Le Creuset dutch oven at a Le Creuset outlet. Well, I mean, it was on sale and all. I love it. Period.

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  41. Deborah said on October 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Kath at 14 wins the thread with her comment about artificial insemination of cattle being the norm. Funny.

    Thanks for the knife sharpener info Heather, I will definitely check it out.

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  42. basset said on October 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Favorite piece of cookware here is a black iron frying pan which belonged to my grandmother – I was recently surprised to learn, after showing pictures of it to a cast iron pan collector, that it’s probably over 100 years old. And still in regular use, made biscuits in it just this past Sunday.

    Sharpening knives… never been good at that. Bought a Chef’s Choice powered sharpener and never could get an edge with it, a Lansky system is better but not by much, plain ol’ stones seem to work best for me.

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  43. brian stouder said on October 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    True enough, Deborah; and Honorable Mention to Scout at 31!

    Michael G – sounds terrifying. A guy at work had a very small (grain of salt-sized) piece of metal removed from his eye yesterday….and he was back at work today.

    I loved loved loved all the photos that the Proprietress posted yesterday, and most especially the very first one, of the Derringers themselves. Several indicators mark that couple as professional people*, whereas several of the photos of others at the event itself made me wince! (not that those other participants in the event necessarily look ‘UNprofessional’; but certainly it is less obvious in some cases)

    Our 7 year old is going to be a ‘Monster High’ girl for Halloween, which involves a black and pink dress, and a black and pink wig, etc.

    Anyway, I believe the old Republican party is on the verge of splitting. I suppose something or other will survive and emerge nationally on the other side of 2012; but one begins to wonder. If Romney ends up as their nominee (as I think he will) , and gets smashed by the president (as I think he will), then what? The current So- called “Establishment” Republicans – that is to say, people who have participated in WINNING national elections – won’t exist anymore. The lunatics will be well-and-truly in charge of the asylum…and then what?

    How many people nationally will throw in with a nakedly elitist platfrom of Tax work, exempt wealth; screw public education; to hell with professional police and fire protection; screw Social Security; if you can’t afford healthcare, too bad for you; Heaping piles and oozing puddles of laissez-faire in-your-backyard instead of environmental protection

    every election an existential contest as to whether the United States government really has any reason to exist, other than to orchestrate a worldwide oligarchic/ military empire?

    If it boils down to that, it’s gotta be the end for the Republican Party; and then the American political Left that was never happy with President Obama can be the new Democrats, and the moderate Obama-Democrats can scoop up the old (reasonable) Republicans – suitably renamed, of course. (Maybe they can be called the Labor Republicans)

    *Gotta love the bunny’s wrist watch! And her discretely palmed, glowing i-Phone! And, does the Plague Doctor have an umbrella in hand? And it’s 5 of 8! Let’s get this show on the road!!

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  44. brian stouder said on October 25, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    And by the way – I loved Nance’s article on the school district budget compromise – especially the drunken dancing partner metaphor.

    A few days ago I guffawed when I read an article in Fort Wayne’s morning paper, about how the state of Indiana requires school districts with closed/unused buildings to make those buildings available to charter operators, for $1 a year (the operator would also have to pay for upkeep and operations, if they do this)

    After laughing, I said out loud* “Those Imagine bastards will never do that”….and before the end of the article an Imagine bastard was indeed quoted as saying something like ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

    Because, of course, those bastards and their Imaginary schools PAY THEMSELVES $800,000 per year “rent” for their two current buildings (or about $1000 per kid they have enrolled, just for building rent); $1/year rent would be “job killing” (to use a favorite Republican term); they wouldn’t have nearly as much public money that needs to be counted and funneled and siphoned and laundered and sheltered and counted again.

    How in hell such an out-and-out ongoing case of fraud and bunko and theft of public money can possibly be allowed (let alone hailed as a positive public good) is entirely beyond my meager powers to comprehend…..but we digress!

    edit: the article –

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  45. Dexter said on October 26, 2011 at 12:21 am

    alex? Is it really your birfday?

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  46. Dexter said on October 26, 2011 at 12:37 am

    I went through non-stick pans regularly until the case against them turned ugly and convincing: that coating is carcinogenic.
    A chef-pal chastised me and now I use my ancient cast iron deep skillet for most stovetop food…fried eggs, pancakes, hamburgers (which I cook for the dogs every day, but I never eat), all fried chops…many times a day.
    Yes, you do have to clean a cast iron skillet, but use only hot water and a stiff brush, never soaps of any kind. And immediately dry the pan and rub it down again with some kind of oil. If you use it to make cornbread or some other oven delight, you won’t need to wash it at all. I learned quickly that you can’t just scrape out hamburger grease and store the pan…it gets rancid. Yet people still scream, “never wash a cast iron pan”…but ya just gotta.

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  47. alex said on October 26, 2011 at 4:06 am

    Yes, Dex, I’m going to be fifty today. At 5:58 P.M.

    Ouch. Can’t believe I actually said it. Fifty. Fifty. Fifty.

    And I’m up at this hour because a giant thunderstorm just rolled through and the homespun roof repair we did yesterday seems to be holding. (Look ma, no tarp!) The leak came on about as unexpectedly as my heart attack and at about the same time. We must have hauled out a ton of soaked sheetrock and insulation from the collapsed master bedroom ceiling. Foul, vile stuff. With the rafters exposed, we saw the leak and patched it. So the water came out somewhere else and we patched it again. And again. And again. It was like playing whack-a-mole.

    Externally there was no visible damage, but when we finally did remove the shingles over the problem area, it was obvious that a large limb had probably fallen from way up high and bounced off the roof and damaged things underneath without actually piercing the surface.

    Next summer I’m doing a complete tear-off, putting in some additional headers and replacing all of the nasty loose insulation with sealed batting.

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  48. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 26, 2011 at 6:19 am

    I got here two months ahead of you, Alex, and the view is fine. We are bouncing around here from having just greeted that same storm a couple hours later (guess I’m not running this morning); as for aging, I’m not sure which shingles problem I dread more, the roofing or the viral variety.

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  49. brian stouder said on October 26, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Happy birthday, Alex!

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  50. coozledad said on October 26, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Alex: Fifty’s not bad. Just remember: lift with your knees, not your back.

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  51. Julie Robinson said on October 26, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Happy Birthday to you, Alex! I’m hitting the double nickel on Saturday and find it no big deal. It seems to be the changing of that first number that makes us gulp and take a big breath while wondering where the years went.

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  52. LAMary said on October 26, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Hah. I saw fifty come and go 8 years ago. I still feel younger in mind and spirit than a lot of 30 year olds I know. I suspect you are the same, Alex. Happy Birthday.

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  53. coozledad said on October 26, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I think all of us knew that once any genuine exercise of first amendment rights occurred in this country there’d be no shortage of righty slugs to shoehorn into some riot gear and let them fire on their fellow citizens.
    They particularly seem to like shooting at the young. It’s likely some twisted form of beating off in public.

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  54. Dexter said on October 26, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Jack Nicholson said “Forty was nothing, but fifty is no damn good.” Now I am well into my sixties and actually have been living in eight decades, picking up a few months in 1949 as I did…eight decades! Jack is well north of 70 now, and he’s still around. Bogart and Nat King Cole smoked themselves into early graves and Herman Cain runs a campaign which flat-out uses a cigarette as a “cool thing”, and Alex is fifty, and as Craig Ferguson tells us every night, “It’s a great day for America, everybody!”
    So have a great day Alex.

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