Sunday, July 27, 2008

Buzzin + Cisco Adler

So I caught part of the new show "Buzzin" featuring Cisco Adler and found myself really intrigued by it. He's such a minor celebrity, but somehow has been connected to a lot of top stars. Case in point: Mischa Barton, who dumped him after a picture Paris Hilton took of him and his misformed, swollen testicles showed up on the internet. He's also dated Kimberly Stewart and possibly this other girl Lisa, who was the cross-eyed one on ANTM the same cycle as Kim Stolz.

Seeing the lives of people who dip in and out of tabloid culture is really fascinating to me. Unlike major stars, who seem to beat to their own drummer, as the world bends to meet them, clinging to the bottom has a unique set of challenges. The structure of Hollywood is more visible in these types of shows - the "Nos" they encounter reflect the standards of the industry, not the constant exceptions awarded to A-List stars.

One scene in Buzzin involves the benevolently irresponsibly Shwayze needing to appear in court at 8am on a Monday morning. Unfortunately, he has a show in Phoenix after the Superbowl he needs to appear in, and shmooze with the sponsors afterward. After receiving a quote of $10,000 for a Gulfstream (all the commercial flights are booked), Cisco says "Can't we make that $1700?" He knows it's out of their price range. I appreciate scenes like this, that give these reality shows verisimilitude.

Irrefutable piece of evidence that I am totally obsessed with celebrity reality shows:
This weekend I also caught part of "Ashley Paige: Bikini or Bust." I only knew who Ashley Paige was from her appearance in ANOTHER reality show, "Janice Dickinson's Modeling Agency," where some of the models did a photo shoot for her collection. Bad. So very bad.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Crisis in Voice

"To thine own self be true"

Easier said than done, Shakespeare. Define: self. Define: true.

I would love to be true to myself, but I simply do not know who I am. I have been thinking a lot about this lately in the context of my writing, and what voice and tone I should adopt in my blog and any future writings I should pursue. Even in the conversational tone I take on my blog, I pull out and heighten certain emotions or perspectives, becoming meaner/more vulgar/more reserved/indecisive, etc., than I am in real life.

Take the post on my waxing disaster. I was inspired both by the detailed vulgarity of Tracie Egan and this other book I read so fast and furious I can't remember the title or the author (it was written by a USC film school alum, about him sitting around masturbating and cheating on his girlfriend and in general being an asshole all the time. one of the most deadpan vulgar things I have ever read, compelling in its oddity). I CAN write like that - I can write even grosser and weirder stuff, but I don't tend to finish or share such things because I don't want my name attached and it makes me uncomfortable. Maybe I am just experimenting in my style, dabbling in the growing trend of writing in grotesque detail about sex and hygiene . However, there's something very disorienting about being able to produce a work that falls so far outside how you normally write and think. It's even more disturbing if you like it. (Along this vein, apply last two sentences to the weirdest shit you ever had).

So, as usual, I am the worst taxonomist in history. I find myself utterly unable to classify myself and my ideas, when I am sure all of this is crystal clear to outsiders. (deprecation of self: this is a standard theme of my work). I am hopeless. I would also like to point out that as soon as I wrote that parenthetical statement, I also wanted to write another sentence saying that this is complemented by an underlying faith in my self. Which I then wanted to amend to "overall concern in the self-confidence arena" or some mumbo-jumbo like that.

So I am writing circles around myself, and feeling a general lack of confidence in...everything. Perhaps I will resume with another post once this crisis has been averted. Or just post another recipe.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cilantro-Jalapeno Hummus

Trader Joe's has some amazing food, and for the second time I was inspired to re-create one of their recipes that features chickpeas. Beans are incredibly easy to make and incredibly cheap, so I figure if I can get the seasoning right, I might as well do it myself. Unfortunately, my food processor does not whip the beans into the creaminess of store-bought hummus, and instead yields a slightly more watery, gritty texture. While I am still working out the kinks (more water? more oil?), this third batch of hummus has been my most successful yet. Adding the jalapeno and cilantro flavors makes this hummus more appropriate with corn chips than pita chips. I have a ripening avocado in my fridge so I have a feeling that I might make some guacamole to for a drinks 'n dip night.

Cilantro and Chickpea Hummus
1 and 1/2 cans chickpeas
1 and 1/2 limes + equal amount water to make the beans whirr in the food processor
1 jalapeno (I removed half the seeds - remove none or all to adjust the heat)
2 big handfuls cilantro
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 + cloves garlic
sea salt
pinch cumin (this is the secret ingredient. all hummus needs a little of this)

Mince the garlic in the food processor. Add the beans, lime juice, and enough water to thin it out, and whirr away. It also is fine to add a tbsp or so of oil at this point. I have a small food processor so this alone takes a couple batches, and involves me transferring ingredients into a bowl as soon as they are pureed.

Chop up the jalapeno and the cilantro in the food processor. I add some water and oil to make it whip up better. I also think it's good for these spices to have oil incorporated into them.

In a bowl, stir up all of the pureed ingredients and season to taste, adding a generous amount of sea salt and a few cranks of pepper (use pepper from a grinder. it's the only way). Add the dash of cumin and notice how it changes the flavor. At this point I usually go back and add more of something. This time I added that extra half can of garbanzos, more lime, and more cilantro, because it was a bit too spicy, then added salt/pepper/cumin on top of that. If the flavors taste a little off, or you're still not sure if it needs an extra something, it's great to just pop it in the fridge and let it rest for awhile. There has to be time for the flavors to meld. I made my hummus an hour ago and just ate some of it with some yellow corn chips. Perfection. I'm excited to make this dish again - I can't say I've ever seen anything like it before, and the green speckling throughout the off-white puree looks gorgeous and maybe a bit mysterious. What I wouldn't give for this dip with a mojito right now!