Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Multiple sticks of butter"

At 46, Doreen Giuliano reinvented herself. She dyed her hair blond and tanned at a salon. She left her white seven-bedroom, colonial-style house for a spare basement apartment three miles away. She took on a new name, and for about a year, she said, she rode her bicycle around her new neighborhood, trying to attract the gaze of a young man whom she badly wanted to get close to.
This was no midlife crisis, though. It was a one-woman sting operation.
—Kareem Fahim, "Disguised Mother woos Juror in Bid to Free Son," NYT

His writings were not the unpunctuated breathless screedlike verses you might expect, but on the other hand they weren't much better. He had apparently decided that the crime novel was the essential building block of literature, the constituent unit of its DNA, and he had set about reducing and recombining it—I could just about see the wheels turning in his head—much the way punk rockers had cloned and distilled and chopped up the standard Chuck Berry guitar riff. Each story, if that's what those things could be called, was a paragraph long, titled and signed, and each resembled a page of a crime novel if you were trying to read it while it whipped by on a conveyor belt. —Pinakothek

I must now reveal my grievous shortcoming as a cuber: I never learned the algorithms — the sequences of moves that, when performed a set number of times, guarantee that the colored squares will line up right. I worried that these tools, borrowed from someone else, might interfere with the intense intimacy with nonverbal thinking that the cube affords. And when you solve it by your own lights: the relief! When it first clicked for me, in 1983, I allowed myself a moment of pure self-admiration: I had pursued the right roads, doubled back on the right occasions, executed the right programs, kept the right goals in my head and seen the thing through. It seemed amazing: my brain works.
—Virginia Heffernan, The Medium, NYT Mag

As rents have moved up, however, and all I have done is move my bed to where my dresser used to be, those solicitous questions have grown fewer. It’s not rent control, but I am fast approaching the rent level known as “the steal,” the place where one becomes the object of envy.
I have earned this by doing nothing (much like a bottle of fine wine that improves by simply sitting on a shelf, or, more accurately, like the leak in my ceiling that always dries itself out eventually), but that is O.K. Every day in this city, people earn far more doing far less.
—Sloane Crosley, "Little Victories," NYT

Spelt, to my eye, didn’t look like farro, and from a stovetop behavioral standpoint, it quickly distinguished itself. In a panic I called my personal farro expert, Jennifer DeVore, explaining I couldn’t find farro so instead I bought. . . . “Oh, no,” she interrupted. “You didn’t buy spelt.” Farro cooks in about 45 minutes; we cooked our spelt for four hours, and even then the result was extremely al dente. We threw in multiple sticks of butter, gallons of stock and $13 worth of grated Parmesan, but the spelt remained stoically flavor-impervious. We served it anyway. Contrary to the claims of Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th-century spelt enthusiast, our guests did not find that eating it “makes the spirit of man light and cheerful.”
—Heidi Julavits, NYT Mag

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