Friday, August 31, 2012

Just say no to scary movies.

It's time again. Time for the previews for scary movies. I know, because I just saw one on late-night television.

The people, scary movie previews belong to a special category of repugnant. There you are, in the movie theater, waiting to see Premium Rush just because--because it looked fun, and had Joseph Gordon Leavitt in it--sitting in the multiplex, semi-digesting the Mexican food you just ate--because it is delicious, and it is enchiladas, one of God's most perfect foods--and the previews come on. And terrible things are in the previews.

Is Premium Rush a horror movie? It is not. It is, sort of, a thriller, with awesome action sequences involving bicycles, with a special set of thrills because one of the bikes in question has (a) just one gear and (b) no brakes.

So the multiplex has set you up. You think the previews will be bicycle-chase-thriller-movie-esque. So you're humming along pleasantly and then all of a sudden, unspeakable evil has possessed a child. Or something. You're not going to un-see that, and you didn't sign up for it, no sir.

And while I'm at it: does watching The Daily Show signal to the universe that I'm in the market for a horror show? It's not like I was watching the Republican National Convention or something. Speaking of horror shows.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


"That's a hard ten," said the historian this morning. It was the second thing he said, after happy birthday. "Which is not so easy to get."

It took me a minute to figure out what hard ten meant. Right. Craps. Two fives, as in: fifty five.

Even though there are two identical numerals in it, the number fifty-five isn't as monumental as you might think. It's not iconic. There are places where it is the speed limit, and that's about it, numerologically speaking.

But fifty five is how old I am today, which was a pretty good day that ended up being a great day. For one:

1. I made myself pancakes, to start the day off right.

2. I taught the students about verb types and sentence patterns and, from the evidence on the ground, totally scared them nigh unto death.

"But it's going to get easier, isn't it?" one of them asked, and I was forced to say, "Nope, it's going to stay hard."

I was prepared and everything. I explained thoroughly and we practiced away. But still: it's going to stay hard. I'd like you to show me the student who thinks that's good news.

3. However. After that class, it turned out that it was still my birthday and moreover, I could go home. Which I did. With dispatch. (<< note purposeful sentence fragments to your left.) Upon arrival, I made myself a sparkling lemonade, which hit the birthday spot. I also turned on the swamp cooler. Refreshing!

4. I took a small but restful birthday nap.

5. We went over to my daughter's house where we had a delicious dinner. My children had each made lists of 55 memories for me--so touching and lovely, I can barely discuss it. My mom and dad did the same, and also dug out pictures of me from the deep dark past. And there were cupcakes.

And the moon is full. Or almost full? So close it hardly matters.

That is the end of the birthday report, and thanks for putting up with it. In conclusion, here is a picture of me when I was twelve, on my birthday.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Let's don't and say we did.

the people:

that, right there--the thing the arrow is pointing to--is a chunk of text I just wrote that was tending to an unbearable whininess. it will not do. it WILL. NOT. DO.

That is all.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The first Monday.

On the first Monday of the new school year, I worked away at my online courses. I added stuff and linked more stuff. Indeed, the linking has made my courses more webbier than ever. Is this a good thing? Time will tell.

Tonight was soft taco night. Soft taco night has come into being because it is a dish that all the people who eat at this house can agree on. Spaghetti used to be a dish like that. But my son, who came up in a family of spaghetti eaters, is no longer playing ball. I would like to say that there are other bi-partisan dishes around here, but maybe not.

Am I the only one who feels like this election might kill her? Literally kill? I will say no more, but I think you can tell I'm not very happy right now.

This afternoon, I bought a watermelon. It's that time of year when you start thinking, I better drink all the lemonade, or This may be the last watermelon of summer. And while it doesn't sound particularly poignant, I felt a little poignant as I thumped around the watermelon bin, looking for a good one to play the part of the Last Watermelon.

Because our early summer was so travel-ish, I didn't get around to planting very many things, not until later in the summer, and there wasn't very much I wanted to plant that was still sitting around in pots in the Garden Shop at Smith's Marketplace. I hate when that happens. All that's left are sad, leggy marigolds and bedraggled petunias. But there was heaps of basil and lemon verbena, so that's what I planted. I have picked the flowers off a hundred different basil stems, to keep them going. In the heat, they look a little wilted, but every morning, there they are, leaves green and glossy, and casting forth yet another purple flower. I hear that flowering makes the basil leaves bitter. I run my fingers over the leaves, or pinch off another blossom, the fragrance on my skin.

Walked early, walked late. Finished my novel, which was good but too sad.

 is how old I will be this week. What is good about fifty-five? maybe a lot of things. This week, I will be on the lookout for these good things.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Tonight we were watching TV while I was simultaneously reading Tana French's Broken Harbor. We switched channels and happened upon this, on Turner Classic Movies, in the middle of it:

At the end of the clip, the voice says, "For  Turner Classic Movies, I'm Patricia Clarkson."

The historian: Oh! Patricia Clarkson.

Me: (this could sound smug but I swear it wasn't) Yep. (because I already knew without being told.)

The historian: You knew that?

Me: Yep. I can always tell celebrity voices.

It's true. I am a champ at being able to ascertain even minor celebrity voices (for instance, actress Kim Greist, who was in a bunch of movies in the 80s, including Throw Momma From the Train, a movie I love, probably undeservedly--she used to do voiceover for chocolate commercials, and I was all, That's the girl from Throw Momma from the Train, and people around me would say, What girl?). It turns out that celebrity voice identification is one of my minor superpowers.

My other minor superpower is picking out an excellent watermelon with great accuracy.

I would like my major superpower to be poetry, but I feel I may be too erratic for that. Maybe it's a superpower, but an erratic one, subject to crippling bouts of self-doubt. Or maybe it's a superpower, but I have a Kryptonite. Maybe the editors of literary journals are my Kryptonite?

What is your superpower? I really really want to know.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Megastore recommends.

1. Enchiladas.  This afternoon I got a text from running son--now college son, yep!: "Are we eating dinner tonight?" Because I am a mother, I was able to intuit from this text that he wanted to know, really: "Are you cooking something tonight?" I will leave it to you to discern the subtext of the subtext. But happily the answer was yes. Yes: I was planning to make enchiladas.

a dramatic reenactment of my enchiladas.
This involved a little trip in the car, once I got home from school and changed out of my footkiller shoes, a trip that involved a small roundabout to Old Navy, after which I was planning to go to the store to get corn tortillas and whatnot. Maybe some replacement potato chips for the ones we had recently finished. But by the time I was finished at Old Navy, I thought, I don't need to go to the store--I'll just make them with flour tortillas. Yeah. 

And that worked out great. I chopped vegetables galore (zucchini, scallop squash, a long thin eggplant, red onion, a poblano pepper) and shredded some chicken (for the chicken eaters, or eater). I made the sauce. And I slapped that all together enchilada style, threw some grated cheese on the top (inside too), and decorated the vegetable enchiladas with a few remaining chopped vegetables and the chicken enchiladas with a little bit of shredded chicken. They were so very good, but I also have a few notes, and further recommendations, to offer. I also recommend

this is a picture of enchilada sauce that is even fancier than mine.
2. Enchilada sauce. Now let me just say a few words about a venerable recipe. I learned to make enchilada sauce the first time from The Joy of Cooking. It was tomato-based. It was good. I liked it. But one time I was visiting my friend George, who lived with his lovely wife Maureen on the Oregon coast. He taught me that enchilada sauce was not a tomato-based production; rather, it was chile-based, a chile-flavored thickened broth. Once I learned it--he made it and I took notes--my enchilada making has never been the same.

This sauce! You need a chile powder of medium heat, preferably fresh. It's good if you have cumin and coriander to add to the spice mix. I use olive oil (so did George), and a little onion, and I thicken the roux with a little flour, then add the broth and let it cook down a little. You can add Mexican chocolate, with a light hand, and you get a slightly darker flavor. It's so good! I treasure this recipe, and love thinking about watching George make enchiladas (one more word: pepitas. Try them in the bottom of the pan and in the enchilada itself. You won't be sorry.). And finally, I recommend

Texmati rice. Before it's cooked in the sauce pan.
3. Cooking the rice in the sauce pot. Does this seem a little lazy and maybe a little trashy? Well, regardless, I recommend it. Once you've made your enchilada sauce, and you've assembled your enchiladas and they are in the oven baking, you have a pan with the remains of the sauce clinging to the bottom and sides. You could wash out that pan before you cook rice. But why waste the last of the sauce? If you cook the rice in the same pan with the sauce still in there, your rice will be redolent of that most delicious sauce, and it will be a lovely chili color. Do it!

When the historian came in, the enchiladas were done, as was the rice. The house smelled heavenly. Like the most delicious food ever, enchiladas.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Ballad of the Sad Wireless

[Note: not an actual ballad. I got three stanzas in and conceded the struggle. I'm just not a rhymer.]

The jist of it is: I did walk the dog before I went to work. And I also stopped to get a bagel, and I defy anyone, the people, to tell me I was wrong. First day of school calls for a bagel, full stop.

With the luck of angels I drove directly, more or less to a parking space. Got out, went in, had a breezy chat with the Provost at the foot of the stairs, opened my office door, and found that I could not get online.

What ho? I had shit to do online, the people. I had discussion posts to write and links to create, and all manner of online course building. There I sat in my office on the first day of classes, fully prepared to work my little heart out, and a necessary condition of that work was not present.

So I did what any sensible person in my position would do. I posted a note and went home, where I worked happily all afternoon. Work wireless: fail. Nonetheless: necessary work: done. Internet: accessed. Class: posted.

Hope your day was half as productive. I mean it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

PowerPoint get thee hence.

Today was the first day back at school, even though students don't come till tomorrow.


I will pause so that you may reflect.

I have thought all summer long about how I would manage my time once I got back in school. How I would find time to exercise a little more. Write. How I would find it in myself to say no to things that aren't really my job and that I don't need to do.

I've let a bunch of things go. I'm not the president of anything. I am no longer the faculty advisor of Folio. I have a course reassigned time this semester, although it's for preparing the lecture I am going to give in the spring. And I am not a faculty senator anymore. There are so many things that I am not doing. I should be able to focus my energies, I really should.

This morning I woke up with this thought: I don't want that one slide in the presentation. That's the presentation a colleague and I made today in the Provost's meeting. The reason we were making a presentation is that she and I had planned a retreat, sponsored by the Provost, in the summer, for the faculty senators and academic administrators and student services administrators. We were telling the faculty et al what had happened at that retreat, what strategic plans we had made, and how they should get involved.

This is a perfect example of what I feel I should not do: get so excited about an idea that I talk non-stop about it to everyone who will listen, then end up planning a retreat about the exciting idea, then make a presentation about the retreat, and wake up the morning of with a dubious slide on my mind. Literally, the people: PowerPoint was my first thought upon waking.

Also, incidentally: two nights in a row, not enough sleep.

So off I go to sleep now. I have another video to make tomorrow, a bunch of discussion prompts to post, readings to post, all manner of LMSery to sort out. And a meeting with a student. But I am going to take the dog for a walk before I go to school, as God is my witness. I feel that this, cooking dinners most nights, and keeping the beginnings and ends of weeks mostly meeting-free, so that I can actually give my online teaching my sustained attention--somehow, I think I will do better if I can just hold on to these things. And also write.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The story of the course.

Listen up students:

When I first started teaching English 2010, it was long, long ago. I taught in rooms with spare engine parts, which is to say, where they taught people about engines and so forth. When I first started teaching English 2010, it smelled of automotive oil and metal that had once been very hot but which had subsequently cooled.

Later, I got a new book. Then another new book. The first new book was so short-lived that it could not be called an era. It was, perhaps, an incident. But the second new book lasted a very long time.

(NOTE: I think I might be forgetting some parts of this story. But a good story doesn't tell all the parts, because all the parts are not equally important.)

To reprise: The second new book was an era. It was an era with periods within it. The periods were called "first edition," "second edition," and "third edition." When the era came to a close, it was sad for me, although not, perhaps, for everyone. In the passing of this era, I felt the first inklings of the course's extinction.

Then came the era of decline. Whose fault was it? Whose fault is global warming? Everyone's and no one's. And at the point of decline, it seemed sensible to ask: what about the bright line dividing this from that, these from those, what I have right here versus the stuff over yonder? Why bother defending the lines, in these dark times? Why not say, creative isn't so different from expository? And who's going to stop me?

And that, students, is how we ended up here, with the course, English 2010, in front of us. Shiny! It is full of concepts and practices, and soon we will test the seams and joins of it to see if they hold or if they pop. Won't that be fun?

Sincerely--I'm not sure how this turned into a letter, but cheers!

Your faithful instructor.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Who's ready? Also: weekly recipes.

For breakfast, I mean. Well, not till tomorrow morning, but: I am! I am continuing my long tradition of postponing the hardest work as thoroughly as is humanly possible. Which, it turns out, is quite thoroughly.

But I sent my syllabus to students. So that's something. I have some links in my online course. That's another thing. And there's a lot of content that just needs to be framed into "modules" and "discussion posts" and other linky links that...ack.

Currently resisting putting together a PowerPoint. Death to PowerPoint! or at least this particular PowerPoint.

Wait! I have two recipes to give you.

RECIPE ONE: baked macaroni and cheese with other stuff in it.

So: cook however many penne noodles makes sense for you. Bear in mind that you can eat leftover baked macaroni and cheese  for a few days. So the number of penne could be many.

Then make your bechamel sauce. Quick version: saute a tablespoon or so of minced onion in 1/4 c. butter. When the onion is soft, sprinkle over the butter, which should be gently bubbling, 1/4 c. of flour, and with a whisk, make sure that the butter and flour are well acquainted, and that the flour browns slightly. Then stir in a cup or a cup and a half of warm milk. If you have basil, you could have steeped the basil in the milk, and that will make a slightly more flavorful sauce base.  Once you have stirred in the milk, whisk it around while the sauce thickens.

When the sauce has thickened, take it off the heat and immediately add about a cup or more if you like more of cheese. You can actually be fairly inventive, but it needs to be a melty cheese--not a hard cheese, and not, probably, a blue cheese. I used some entirely pedestrian already-grated colby jack cheese, which I have around because my son likes grated cheese, because evidently grating cheese is very hard work. Back to the sauce: put the cheese in the sauce that's hot, but off the heat. Let the cheese melt. You can whisk it a couple of times if that makes you feel useful.

Mix the noodles and sauce together. Now: take a zucchini. Take two. And take a handful of cherry tomatoes. Or any tomatoes, really. Slice the zucchini thin but not too thin. Halve the cherry tomatoes.

Put half your noodle sauce mix in the bottom of a baking dish, whatever size is appropriate. Then lay the zucchini and tomatoes in an even layer over the noodles and sauce. Then, cover the zucchini and tomatoes with the rest of your noodles and sauce.

Now, take some stale bread with a small chunk of parmesan and put them both in your blender, the bread torn into smallish pieces. Pulse it until everything is crumbs. Sprinkle all that goodness over the noodles. Bake that at 375 for 20 minutes or as long as it takes for the whole thing to get golden and bubbly.

Point one: hot cheese. Point two: unexpected vegetable bonus. You can actually change up the vegetables and you won't be sorry.

RECIPE TWO: Oatmeal cookies with a little extra business.

Make your regular oatmeal cookie recipe. I happened to have some oats in the tall cylindrical container situation, and I used the recipe on the side of the cylinder. I also substituted demerara sugar for brown sugar. If you have some demerara sugar, you should try this. It was good.

But that's not the business to which I am referring. Once I had my cookie dough, I divided it in half. In one half, I threw some chocolate chips. Also not the business to which I am referring, but my son likes these cookies with chocolate chips, so I made these as an acknowledgement of his tastes.

In the other half, I put unsweetened coconot flakes and golden raisins. Did I mention that, instead of cinnamon, I used cardamom and fresh nutmeg in the cookie dough? Well I did. Those spices plus the raisins/coconut combination--excellent cookies. Really superb. The demerara sugar, which is coarsely grained, also added a little crunchy something.

Happy first week of school, all y'all for whom this is the first week of school. We who are about to die salute you.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Open letter to the LMS.

Dear the Learning Management System,

I am not even going to begin with a small compliment to soften the sure-to-follow criticism. Not even! because I am mad at you.

I am mad, the LMS, that you will not accept my code. I am mad that you keep deleting this code. I am also mad that you keep dumping my work simply because I am using a browser that you do not like, because you are persnickety like that.

The LMS, you are annoying. I am annoyed with you. My course will be more boring because you are persnickety and also, I am feeling harassed. By you. I am considering filing a grievance against you, the LMS. On the grounds that you are not an equal opportunity LMS. You are discriminating against me and my work, and I demand redress.

On the other hand, now that I have switched to another browser, and you seem to be working better, maybe I will sleep on this possible grievance.

But you better watch it.

My man: for real,


Friday, August 17, 2012

Strange days.

Yesterday, I swept out the floor of my closet and by the end of it, I was sneezing, leading me to believe--indeed, confirming my lifelong belief--that I am allergic to housework. Alas. I continued to sneeze all night, which led me to the inexorable conclusion that I must take an antihistamine. But lo, twas not allergies, but a summer cold. Yes! the Dread Summer Cold Roberts! Whatever is to be done with but take DayQuil and stare at one's computer screen:

and madly edit code which seems to shapeshift like a chameleon or Proteus or some other shapeshifter: embed it into this platform, and the code gets scrubbed. Embed it into another, and all the links lead back to a single target. Embed it into the platform for which you intended it, and it is entirely dysfunctional. DayQuil haze? or is html the fruits of the devil?

Meanwhile, tonight, after attending a training session on workplace grievances (but who needs training? [rim shot]), I came home and am now watching a weird movie called Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, which has Alex Pettyfer, of Magic Mike fame, but also Bill Nighy, Ewan MacGregor, Robbie Coltrane, Stephen Fry, Missy Pyle, Damian Lewis, Andy Serkis, and--get this--Alicia Silverstone as a mom or way big sister or something. It's like a collage of Sherlock Holmes, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Harry Potter, Galaxy Quest, Revenge of the Sith, Lord of the Rings and Clueless. It is just 45 minutes until my last DayQuil of the night. DayQuil of the Night!

  Was it a vision, or a waking dream? 
    Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Today, I took a drive down south with my friend Ann C., whom I have known since I was about 20 years old. We went to Provo, where she spent most of her growing up years. I, too, grew up a fair amount there--I went to college at BYU, married, had children, and lived there for some fairly significant years.

She wanted to show me, and I wanted to see it--honestly, I can't remember whose idea it was. We talked about everything, and there is still so much more. Such a gift, to see it all again with her, to reflect on what's changed (so much!) and to remember. To hear her memories, and the way they ignited my own. A very sweet day to me.  Here are some of the things I saw.

Center Street

small flowers at the cemetery

toward the foothills

beverage of choice


our ride--sweet!

the notch
right there.
we blessed our son here.

up the hill to the cemetery

same hill

vista, smoky sky

yellow grass

Monday, August 13, 2012

New wunderkammer.

"The raw, then, not the cooked. A loose, unthematized collection; the parts not
necessarily inflecting each other as in a traditional essay. The mind will force
an order on the resultant text (the viewers make the pictures, was Duchamp’s
famous pronouncement). The refusal to allow text as open-ended, unscrewed-
down box, rushing instead to impose on it the mild boredom of
order, is a concern I have with much computers and writing scholarship today."

1 Viking Ruins, Shetland Island

2 "Deadbeat Club," the B-52s 

3 Interview on Fresh Air with Peter Heller

4 Lost and found artist Rodriguez

5 End of summer 2012

6 Robert Frost, "Directive"

7 Facade, Dunottar Castle

8 from "Box Logic," Geoffrey Sirc  (also passage above)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The hammer.

Tomorrow, the vague thoughts I have been loosely entertaining since last May about how I'm going to do this and that and various and sundry whatnots--these thoughts are about to get specific.

I'm talking about how I'm going to figure out a time to go swimming, of course.

No, not really. I'm talking about syllabi-bye-bye (that's my little tribute to the Backstreet Boys, all right?). Tomorrow. Is when it starts.

I am pretty sure that a flood of amazing and transformative ideas will coalesce/reappear/appear for the first time once I start thinking in the concrete and not in the whenever. I'm pretty much counting on it. But first, I have to go to bed and sleep for a milllllion hours. It's a prerequisite.


Spent some time today at Powell's downtown, the bookstore that is also a shrine to the reading life. Today, I didn't have a system for approaching Powell's, no list of books nor any real agenda. In my desultory way, I found 

  • a translation of Sophocles' odes and fragments; 
  • a book of late T'ang dynasty poetry; 
  • a David Lehman edited anthology of prose poems; 
  • a book for my dad on the evolution of cooperation; 
  • a Danish police procedural that I'm pretty excited about; 
  • and a few other thises and thats, which all added up to a fairly shockingly steep bill. Letter press greeting cards will do that, I guess.

I am packing all of these items into my tiny, tiny suitcase, which I will check, because I am a checker. Tomorrow I am jetting home to the SLC. Monday begins my transition into school mode, whoo hoo. Yep, way excited about that.  I would also maybe like to go swimming. And ride my bike and walk with Bruiser, have mostly quiet days for the school preparation. See some movies. Live simultaneously in another  dimension, Summerworld. Possible? We'll see, and I will let you know.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012


Today, I awoke at the crack of dawn--for real, the people, I thought the crack of dawn might break me in two--to go to the airport to fly to Portland for my nephew's wedding. My parents arrived at my house to go to the airport; the historian dropped us off when there was only a little light in the sky. I might be exaggerating, or whining, or both. Both are my specialities. But it was early, my friends. Early, in my book.

We got to Portland and drove to my brother's house, where there was baking and treat making in full sway:

I helped to place the cake pops in an artful array, and only had to eat one of them due to artful arranging malfeasance. My mom baked the little pecan tarts, known as Tea time tassies in our familiy lore. Then there was lunch to eat, and a few hands of cards to play, and a family dinner at a restaurant. Then chatting and laughing. The wedding is tomorrow. Here's the handsome groom:

He's a fine musician and a lovely person in all respects. Cheers to him and his lovely bride.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Dear August,

I ran into a friend at Wendy's today, where my youngest son and I had gone for lunch. "Two weeks?" my friend said, and at first I didn't know what he meant. And then I got it. "Or are we not counting yet?" he said, and I thought, nope, I'm counting, but I'm maybe not talking about it out loud yet.

Yet it is just that: two weeks left. Today it was hot again, if not as hot as it's been all summer--and maybe it was, I just don't have the heart to keep track--it was damn hot anyway. And there's a fire at the south west edge of the valley. I'd heard on the news at noon that it was forty percent contained, but it has flared up again. There's ash on the hoods of our cars, and the air smells like burning.

I'd like to make the last two weeks last and last. It's shocking to me how many things will be, need to be, fit into them. I would like the last two weeks to be infinite, elastic, capacious.

But there are fires devouring the hills, and it won't stop until we're well into fall.

August, I'm taking the last of my summer trips starting tomorrow--my nephew's wedding. I hope when I get back there's a little taste of fall in the air. I hope it's cooler. I hope the fires abate. I hope there's still a little remnant of summer left. I hope all these hopes are possible, but simultaneously.



Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Several important events have happened today.

1. Poem comes out of the manuscript. This is the shaggy manuscript that hardly anyone has read. I was recently reading this manuscript on a plane, making notes on the poems, thinking of alternative sequences, acting the part of a poet with my pen in hand, when I happened upon a short poem, just eight lines, in couplets. I got immediately overcome with the tedium of my task, closed the manuscript, and turned to some other activity, like thinking about how much I wanted to get off that plane.

Fast forward three weeks. I have the manuscript open, I'm making notes, considering my previous notes, etc. etc., when I come upon the same short poem. And was immediately overcome with the tedium of the task, closed the manuscript, and turned to some other activity, like "lying on my bed" without the distraction of "editing."

That poem is outta there.

2. My camera is in the mail. A few days ago, I started getting a glitchy shutter and an error code on my camera. WOE. After googling the matter, the consensus seemed to be that I had to send it to the factory. Across the country. To be fixed. WOE. So now I am waiting with bated breath for the healing to begin.

3. I have fully contemplated and comprehended the depths of my indolence. It is deep, the people. Deep.

4. Granola that you have made yourself is an all-purpose snack. That is all.

Monday, August 06, 2012

In which I bake a tart and cry about The Closer.

Only one more episode.
Tonight the historian and I watched the next to last episode ever of The Closer, a show I have loved from pretty much day one. Sometime ago, Kyra Sedgwick, the eponymous and legendary interrogator, decided that she would bow out of the show in this, its seventh season. So, like every other fan of the show, I have relished and fretted over every one of these last episodes. I have, of late, dug up interviews with Sedgwick and the producer of the show, reviews of it, profiles of the actors, discussions of its plot twists. My daughter in Louisiana has also been a fan for a long time; we have been comparing notes over the last year at least over each episode and the overall arc of the show for the past two seasons. I will really miss it.

One thing I realized during this period of last-ness is how much I cherish a drama that's reliable, but how much more I cherish a reliable show that counts on you paying attention. This isn't, writing-wise, at the level of Mad Men or The Wire. But over the past season, or season and a half, the writers of the show have asked the viewer to reconsider her feelings about the characters and even, I would say, the satisfactions of a police procedural that depends upon our identifying with a police interrogator whose will to close the case, and deep intelligence, lead to unorthodox methods. The reconsideration asks us to view the character's unorthodoxy as possibly unethical, and gives her ample opportunity to consider and reconsider her own actions.

I love a show that picks up a thread that seems to have been dropped, and weaves it back into the fabric of the plot, and by so doing, turns the entire premise and its pleasures on its head. I will really miss The Closer. I might feel a little foolish for saying so. But I will, I will.

In its Platonic dream of itself, my tart looks like this.
Which is how I came to shed a tear or two into the tart dough I made. We had some apricots that needed to become a tart, or be eaten, or they would turn inexorably into sad, sad wasted fruit. I bought those apricots at the farmer's market at least two weeks ago, and tonight was the time to pick them up from their cold oblivion, and let them fulfill their destiny as pie.

And while the dough was chilling, relaxing, in the dark of the refrigerator, I watched the episode again. In case I missed something the first time around.

Saturday, August 04, 2012


We went to the farmer's market and then visited the historian's son, where the two littlest girls showed us what summer is all about:

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Megastore recommends.

3D! $1! by which I mean $4!
1. A cheap date. Tonight, the historian and I went to see Men In Black 3, which I had already seen with my daughter, and suspected that he would enjoy. We saw it in 3D this time at the dollar theater, so, technically not "a" dollar--it was "four" dollars, which I think we can all agree is a bargain, 3D-movie-wise. Before the movie, we ate at Smash Burger. So: a burger and a movie = cheap date. And I would argue that there is special joy in seeing a movie with the people, where the people see movies. Although I must say, this point was perhaps not so impressive to the historian. Who is a Socialist! I ask you!

2. French fries. The people, I submit to you: the potato achieves itself most fully in the form of the frite. I say this, in full acknowledgement that one might argue that the potato achieves itself in the form of the chip. Sixes. I had fries with my veggie Smash burger, with rosemary and salt, and they were durn good. I recommend them.

Water feature, WVC Promenade. Nice!

3. The new West Valley City Promenade at Fairbourne Station. West Valley City has been, for a long time, more of a theoretical concept than an actual city. I give props to the planners of WVC for this lovely new park that already has mixed uses (a transit hub and shopping center and public library, as well as the city government buildings) and is in the process of adding more (residential/hotel). The park has lovely water features and, tonight, when we visited the whole affair after the movie, it was cool and damp and entirely refreshing. People strolled through it on the way to the train station. Well-played, West Valley City.


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