Amoeblog

(Wherein we eagerly anticipate the death of leaves.)

Posted by Job O Brother, September 28, 2011 11:04am | Post a Comment



Fairfax & Melrose

I’ve lived in Los Angeles long enough now to notice a two-degree temperature drop and the standard grey, morning haze lasting an extra hour and excitedly exclaim, “Fall is in the air!” It’s what I have to work with down here.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I’m eager to cuddle up in coats, drink steamy brews, over-do holiday cooking, celebrate Walrus Day, and frankly, I like the melancholic pallor it casts o’er humanity – makes my fellow man seem more relatable than when they’re sweating and spiking balls over nets, behavior which makes me skittish and distrustful.

Of course I know this new chill in the air may be a tease; there’s always opportunity for Mother Nature to Alan Funt the situation. I’m not boxing up my cargo shorts and ice cube collection just yet, but I am eager. To prepare, I’ve hand-selected the finest mini-marshmallows to serve in cocoa (I myself hate eating marshmallows – they’re like sugar-sweetened, antique erasers, but ironically I delight in judging and organizing them), I’ve begun psychologically manipulating the boyfriend with subliminal messages while he watches The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to favor Douglas Firs over White Firs, and I’ve taught my cats to knit their own sweaters. (To be honest, this last effort has been a real power struggle, with both felines putting up a lot of resistance and excuses:

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Cruise to Mexico: Part 7

Posted by Job O Brother, December 6, 2010 11:37am | Post a Comment


Day 5 (Part 2)

Thursday. September 16, 2010

PUERTO VALLARTA



As the boyfriend, his father, Fred, the sweltering heat and I walked home along the quaint, plank-board sidewalks along the coast of Puerto Vallarta, I was all the time keeping a look-out for a keen thank you gift for Smithy, who’s house-sitting for us had caused her such difficulty after the devious plotting of the demon spawn we call “our kitties.”

You’d think that a tourist trap like Puerto Vallarta would be ideal shopping, but I couldn’t imagine Smithy exactly swooning over a miniature beaded palm tree statue or a Hard Rock Café tank-top.

Then, at last, I saw just the sort of boutique that catered to the refined taste of my dear,lady friend: a tequila specialty shop. Hypnotized by the variety of tans, camels, and caramel colors that shone through the many-angled bottles, I floated in and got real thirsty. The vendor – who’s name I never got, so I’ll call Graggenhauserfrauschembaur – practically materialized from out of my shadow, eager to exchange some of his wares for the far-less delicious bills I kept in my wallet.

“This,” I thought to myself, “Is gonna be a great relationship.”

It was. At Graggenhauserfrauschembaur’s insistence we sat at a tiny portable bar and were lined up shots after shots of tequila tasters. It was like being a college freshman girl at her first date rape. Graggenhauserfrauschembaur’s salesmanship was bar-none; how brilliant to get your customers drunk! And the tequila was, truly, lekker. My personal favorites were a coconut-crème tequila and a tamarind liqueur that made me wanna be an alcoholic again for the first time. I purchased some booze for Smithy, and some for myself. I bid Graggenhauserfrauschembaur a bittersweet farewell, and he scolded the boyfriend and I for coming from Los Angeles and not being able to speak Spanish.

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(In which Job reveals holiday party hints.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 9, 2008 11:25am | Post a Comment

"Ho ho ho! Who needs a pancreas?"

It’s only December 9, and already my body is exhausted from all the sugar and booze it’s ingested. I know, oh my readers, why Santa is a fat man. Santa, in fact, is probably suffering with diabetes. It would explain last year when, as he was trying to stuff the life-sized, life-like Annette Funicello robot I had asked for into my San Francisco 49ers stocking (a last-minute purchase at Target – it was either that or a Hannah Montana stocking that had a glue-gun scar); Santa was working his magic but, in-between “ho ho ho” he was mumbling about polyuria, polydipsia and polyphagia in a manner not so jolly.

That last sentence was epic. Somewhere, the ghost of Proust just got a boner. Can I say boner on the Amoeblog? I’m not well.

My boyfriend, Corey, and I just hosted our annual Christmas party. I was in charge of the food. I went for a “dip” theme. That is, rather than merely offer chips & salsa or chips & guacamole, our dips included:

•    Pumpkin pie & fresh whipped cream dip, served with cinnamon/sugar pita chips
•    NY Cheesecake dip, served with thick graham crackers
•    Chocolate fudge dip, served with fresh & dried fruit
•    Peanut butter / mustard / honey dip, served with pretzels
•    Red wine dip, served with Pfeffernüsse

Our pal Kamran also contributed queso & tortilla chips, because some of the guests were Texan, and I guess their tradition demands queso at every gathering, otherwise they… secede or something.

I was also in charge of the music. For this, I created a playlist on my jazz-specific iPod and dumped a week’s worth of X-mas tunes. But, and here’s where I turn this into a piece of advice for those of you assembling such a list, I recommend you buffer all the Christmas records with some other music. I like a ratio of 50/50. This is to ensure that no one has to endure four versions of “Jingle Bells” in a row. If chosen well, the non-holiday music won’t impede on the feeling, but embellish it. I stuck to jazz – down-tempo be-bop, mostly – as I find it blends well with my Yuletide tunery. Examples:

Ben Webster



Lester Young


Another perfect addition to a holiday set-list is any recordings by the
Swingle Singers...


I was careful not to have any unChristmasy items contain lyrics. Nothing could be tackier than if, as your guests swagger mirthfully around the punchbowl or flirting beneath the mistletoe, than for Lady Day to start a macabre rendition of “Strange Fruit.” Beyond that, you’d be surprised how cozy a recording (sans lyrics) of the “Eulogy for Rudy Williams” can be, when accompanied by spiked egg nog and a stewardess under each arm.

I’m sorry. That was a ridiculous digression. Of course I meant to say flight attendants.

The next morning, Corey and I fell out of bed around noon and went immediately to fellow Amoebite Aaron’s party. They were serving pumpkin pancakes to guests on an ambitious scale. For a brief moment, I worried as to how I would be able to dip the pancakes without making a mess, but then my brain reminded me of the time before my party, when utensils like forks and spoons reigned supreme, and I relaxed.

That night was the Amoeba Holiday party. It grieves my heart that I didn’t attend – it was the first time I missed a major Amoeba event in over four years! But it was the 30th birthday of our dear friend Jenny. 29th or 31st birthday can be ignored – the big three-oh cannot. So, it was off to Manhattan Beach to celebrate.

Suddenly, a fire-breathing dragon flew down from the skies, scorching cars and toppling skyscrapers, as an army of robots marched across the cityscape!!!


Not really, but I suddenly worried that my blog was getting boring.

Is this how Mrs. Dalloway would have read if it was written in 2008?

Anyway, going back to the party food – I’ve learned that many people don’t know how to make whipped cream from scratch. For those of us who, like me, were raised in the Swiss Alps by a bunch of portly dessert chefs, this skill comes as naturally as braiding our golden locks or yodeling. The rest of you can learn by reading ahead…
Procure yourself some heavy whipping cream. You can find this at any grocery store, ideally in this refrigerated section. (In fact, if your local grocer doesn’t keep it in this section, I recommend shopping elsewhere.)

Size-wise, you’ll usually have two options: pint or quart. I suggest you go for the quart, because it’s much more common to not have enough delicious, fresh, whipped cream than the alternative. (Think about it – have you ever heard this sentence: “Oh no! Too much delicious, fresh, whipped cream!” …Exactly.)

Next, pour the heavy whipping cream into a bowl. NOT a stainless steel bowl, however. Stainless steel is bad juju for whipping cream, for reasons I don’t know, perhaps because I spent high school science class hidden in the theatre lobby, drinking screwdrivers from my Thermos and reading Anne Rice novels.


Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream until, well, it becomes whipped cream. But BE CAREFUL – if you whip it too long, it suddenly becomes butter. Corey made that mistake once and, without realizing it, ate a bowlful of fresh, sweetened butter. He spent the next two weeks digesting it.

Once it’s whipped cream, mix in the sweetener of your choice. Mostly commonly, powdered sugar is used. (Don’t use granulated sugar, unless you want slightly crunchy whipped cream. PS – You don’t.) For myself, I think the finest sweetener for whipped cream is grade-B maple syrup.

I never measure the sweetener – just go by taste. Start with a little and keep adding until the flavor gives you a boner. Can I say that? I have a slight headache. Am I still writing?

The army of robots killed mercilessly, until they were conquered by my life-sized, life-like Annette Funicello robot. And that’s why we celebrate Christmas. Hosanna in Excelsis Deo.

Guests are usually delighted and impressed by homemade whipped cream. Unless it’s the portly dessert chefs that raised me. They tend to be overly critical. My robot will show them. Oh yes, dear readers, VENGEANCE WILL BE MINE!!!

Merry Christmas!