Gordon Ramsay Out, Anthony Bourdain In

I admit it, I find chefs sexy.  (Real actual chefs, not that guy you know that thinks he’s a culinary genius because he mixed horseradish and mayonnaise together and put it on a roast beef sandwich.)  It’s something about the hard work, long hours and dedication to a art that gets, well… eaten.  As a good friend of mine who is a professional chef who specializes in wedding cakes once told me, in his darkest hours of depression he thinks about how all his hard work always ends up in the toilet.

I had a major thing for Gordon Ramsay for awhile, but I have to be honest with him and let him know that our short-lived romance is over as I have found someone new:  Anthony Bourdain.

Anthony’s not new to me – I read his book, Kitchen Confidential, years ago. And I always watch his Travel Channel show, No Reservations, when I get a chance.  But, something’s changed.  Maybe it’s that he’s getting older and not quite so arrogant and in-your-face rude.  Now, he’s just smart and biting and a little bit more mellow.

Gordon, on the other hand, has turned into a media whore as well as a literal one.  I mean, how many different cooking/restaurant shows can you have on the FOX network?  And, they’re all the same:  He gets some dolt who either doesn’t know how to cook or doesn’t know how to run a restaurant and he screams and yells at them for an hour.  If I wanted to listen to screaming and yelling that much, I’d just go home and visit my parents.  And, after proclaiming to anyone who would listen what a great family man he is, he gets caught snogging some babes in the hotels attached to his restaurants around the world!  Smooth move, Gordon – considering that your father-in-law owns half of your companies.  Bet that has been awkward at the old board meeting.

Anyway, I have officially replaced Gordon on my Chef Do List with Tony – FYI.  Plus, this picture is hot.

Gelatin is Back, Baby!

You know how one generation finds things that they think are “new” and it’s really just a retread from two generations back?  Kind of like how the 20-somethings these days are drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and Manhattans like my grandfather did?  Well, the same goes for food, I guess, and it seems that that scary obsession of mine is making a comeback: Scary Gelatin Recipes

I was looking through the latest issue of Saveur magazine and there, on page 36 was the first photo of a vegetable-suspended-in-gelatin-loaf recipe that has been published in the last 40 years.  Accompanying such photo was a glowing and rather romantic essay touting the beauty of this disgusting product.

I try and think of myself as a foodie, but I’m sorry –  I can’t eat this crap – I don’t care if Grant Achatz himself made it.  Jello is a nothing short of gross and is good for nothing other than delivering Everclear into your body via a paper cup.  The End.

See Saveur article here, along with recipe for above “Perfection Salad.”

Blago: How Could You?

All summer I have been waiting with bated breath for the sure-t0-be spectacular sideshow circus otherwise known as the Rod Blagojevich testimony at his corruption trial.  I mean, the guy said over and over again for the last 19 months that he couldn’t wait to speak and set the record straight!  And, lo and behold, when it finally gets down to the wire and it’s time to hear from the Great One he hides behind his lawyers and decides he won’t take the stand!

Rumors abound that  his defense team had been practicing his cross examination last weekend and that he was so abysmal that they decided to just cut their losses and end the case right there.  Pretty ballsy considering they mentioned to the jury more than once in their opening statements that Rod would testify.

I’ve served on a jury before – believe me, nothing this exciting – but I can tell you right now that the minute a defendant decides not to take the stand, I automatically think they are guilty.  I know you’re not supposed to think that, and the judge will instruct this jury to not take this in a prejudicial manner, but it’s just human nature.   I’ve never understood that if you didn’t do it, why wouldn’t you say so?  One reason: You did do it.

Many Chicago talking heads are still betting that Blago will get off – not due to Blago himself testifying or not testifying, but because the case is fairly weak.  But, you never know what a jury is going to do.  I think he’ll be found guilty, but the sentence will be light.

Can’t wait until Monday!

If I Only Had These Balls…

I’m having client problems again.  Well, not really again – it’s always the same fucking client with the same fucking idiotic problems.  Sometimes I really feel if I were to give myself a lobotomy it may be better, as then at least this client and I would be on a level playing field.   When I am feeling this way, I sometimes turn to this chap’s website, as his copies of emails and stories regarding his graphic design business always makes me laugh.  I wish I had his balls.

Here is a link to my favorite of his hilarious posts – although they are all pretty funny.  Also, check out “Missing Missy” and “Overdue Account”.

Taking a deep breath, and back to work…

Old Favorites that Suck – Part II

The Breakfast Club (1985): I know this is probably sacrilege with my peers, but this movie doesn’t stand the test of time to me like Ferris Beuller. Oh, I loved this movie as much as anyone when I first saw it in high school and wanted so badly to be a Claire when I was probably more like a Brian.  (I remember when Claire pulled out her bento box sushi lunch, I had no idea what it was…) But when I watch it now it just seems so… contrived.  The characters are supposed to be representations of all the clichés in high school – I get that – but, they are all so one-dimensional, even in the end when they are supposed to have “grown.”  The plot is a little ham-handed and the dialogue seems so unnaturally dramatic at times – it just doesn’t do it for me any more. ( I do still give it five stars for music, and the fade to black ending with “Don’t You Forget About Me” is a total classic.)

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Revenge of the Nerds (1984): How this stinker managed to spawn three sequels over 10 years is quite the mystery to me.  I used to think this was the funniest movie ever and now I can’t even watch it when it’s on TV.  I should have figured out that this was destined to not age well when I realized Ted McGinley was in it.  See Happy Days, The Love Boat, Married with Children, et al.

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Children of a Lesser God (1986):  This used to be my favorite movie for a long time… I don’t know what happened!  The last time I watched it I was cringing with the clunky dramatic plot points and total overacting done by Mr. Bill Hurt.  The crappy score didn’t help – it’s way too dated now with the screechy 80s synthesizer muzak and saxophones.  Well, okay – there really were no saxophones, but you get the idea.  I don’t know if it had something to do with the fact that I met William Hurt once while traveling in Austria and he was a total condescending asshat.  But, he wasn’t such an asshat as to make me hate the movie until much later, so who knows…  The sex scenes are still pretty hot, though!

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Bachelor Party (1984): I have to be upfront and disclose that I had a major crush on Tom Hanks back in the day.  It started with Bosom Buddies (yes, I liked that show – but c’mon – I was 12)  and continued on for a few years.  Sadly, like this movie, my crush on Tom Hanks petered out some time in the 90s.  Go figure – I didn’t like him once he started making award-winning movies.  (I like losers, dammit!)  Anyway, I used to think this movie was Hi-larious, but a recent viewing made me realize that not only is this movie lame and not funny, but basically filmed on the worst set ever built for a so-called Hollywood movie.  Seriously – what hotel room looks like that? I think my rose-colored Tom Hanks glasses made me see something that wasn’t there.  Go rent The Hangover if you’re hankering for bachelor party fun and go rent Splash if you’re hankering for cutie-pie Tom Hanks before he got all actor-y on us.

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Strange Brew (1983): Oh, how I loved Bob & Doug McKenzie.  I had their Great White North album,  wore a Great White North t-shirt to school when my mom wasn’t looking, and I saw this movie more than once when it came out thinking it was brilliance on celluloid!  Further viewings prove that once again, it is difficult at best to turn a funny 5-minute sketch on a TV show into a full-length feature.  Something that MacGruber, A Night at the Roxbury, Coneheads, Stuart Saves His Family, Superstar, It’s Pat and The Ladies Man could have thought about before wasting their money.  (The standouts when they are good, are really good: Wayne’s World and The Blues Brothers are classics, but obviously this is not the rule.)  Anyway, this movie is snoresville – go listen to the album instead.

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Titanic (1997): Yes, I know it’s the second-highest grossing film of all time.  Yes, I know that people went and saw this movie 10-15 times in a row.  Yes, I actually went out and bought the soundtrack.  Yes, I used to secretly like that Celine Dion song.  You know what?  It’s really not that good.  It’s too long, too overly dramatic, and too… well, just too contrived.  The heartbreaking love story I thought it was about before now seems engineered and shallow. I think that people at the time were just overwhelmed with the experience of the movie’s special effects and didn’t notice the secondary fact that the plot is sub-par. (And the fact that I was also in a doomed romance at the time has nothing to do with it… really!)  Wanna cry your eyes out?  Go rent Bridges of Madison County.

When Your Old Favorites Suck… (and when they don’t)

Did you ever get excited to see a movie again that you hadn’t seen in a long time and you used to love, and then you watch it and you realize it totally sucks?  Did it always suck and you just realized it now?  Did you “grow” out of it?  Is it just too dated?

I recently caught a showing of St. Elmo’s Fire on TV.  Oh, how I remember how I loved that movie when it came out.  The excitement of seeing the Brat Pack in a grown-up world with such worldly, grown up problems!  Affairs, drugs, drinking, unrequited love – St. Elmos’ Fire had it all!  ( I even had the movie poster in my dorm room my freshman year in college.)

Now watching it, I realize this movie totally sucks balls!  It has it all, all right: bad writing, bad acting, cliché plot points, bad music.  (Well, maybe not the music – that was just an unfortunate byproduct of the times. The saxophone was quite popular in the 80′s – can someone explain to me why?)  It makes me kind of sad: realizing that I am no longer so gullible as to like drivel like this.

But, there is hope…

Caddyshack (1980): Anyone who knows me knows this always has been (and always will be) my all-time favorite movie.  If you don’t laugh about 25 times out loud while watching the slobs vs. the snobs, well… then there is something wrong with you.  (Love it so much, hosted a Caddyshack costume party last year.  Now, that’s dedication.)

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Airplane  (1980): I wasn’t allowed to see this movie in the theater when it first came out (I was 12) because it was deemed too risqué, but I did see it later on some friend’s massive Beta tape player.  This makes me laugh as much now as it did then.  How can jokes be corny and brilliant at the same time?  Only though the magic of the Zucker/Abrhams/Zucker team –  imitators need not apply.

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1985): One of my all-time favorites.  I was a high school senior the year Ferris Bueller came out, so basically Ferris was me – or at least who I wanted to be.  Captures what I felt like at that age absolutely perfectly with not one iota of phoniness or contrivance.  When they talk of John Hughes speaking for a generation, this is the movie I think of and not 16 Candles or The Breakfast Club.

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Grease (1978): I completely understand how 10 year old girls go crazy over High School Musical or Glee – it’s just their version of Grease.  No, I didn’t understand what it meant when Rizzo was “knocked up” or that really the movie was telling me to change who I am to get the guy – but with all those great songs, what did it matter?  I played the album so much, I wore it out – and I can still sing every word to every song.  Grease still is the word – just ask any 10 year old girl.

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This is Spinal Tap (1984): I admit, I didn’t see this for a few years until I was in college, but it was a history-changing moment for me.  It was funny, yes – but it was dry – very dry –  and I loved it.   The mockumentary had been around before this, but this one was the best of the genre – and it still is.   (I have probably seen this move 50 times and I still see something new every time that I didn’t see before.) This one is definitely an 11.

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Animal House (1978): I didn’t see this one until college either, but since I was in college, it made total sense.  This movie is timeless, whether you are in college in 1963 or 2003.  Toga parties, cheating on tests, road trips, getting drunk: That pretty much sums it up.  (Although, I was in a sorority in college, and I have to break it to you that not once did we have topless pillow fights – - sorry.)

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Raising Arizona (1987): My first contact with the genius of Ethan & Joel Cohen.  Here we are 20 years later and the minds behind Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou etc. etc. and this one is still one of my favorties. I think I saw it at our discount college theater about 10 times and seen it about 30 since then.  It’s still hilarious.  Well, maybe only if you find round funny.

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About Last Night (1986): You may have noticed that the rest of my list is basically comedies.  It’s not that I’m not a sentimental person – I think it’s just that you’re not as sentimental about the same things at 16 as you are at 40 – chalk it up to experience.  But, there’s something about this movie…  I loved this movie in high school, I loved this movie in college, I really loved this movie as a 20-something living in Chicago, and I love this movie now.  Yes, the clothes, the bar scene and the music are dated, but watching Rob Lowe and Demi Moore fall in love, move in together, and then have the most gut-wrenching break up ever breaks me up every time.

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Tomorrow:  More old favorites that now suck ass.