A Sure Sign that Days of Austerity are Upon Us

. . .  is the package of chicken thighs from Costco.  Though there are some aspects of the current economic gloom that self applauds (Unions are biting the dust!  Lines are getting shorter at Costco!), there are some that simply appal her.

Has anyone bought chicken thighs from Costco recently?  The ones that come already divided up in little handy plastic pouches?  Which are bound together with strips of plastic tape that are absolutely wicked to remove?

Can anyone enlighten self as to why these chicken thighs have shrunk —  to the point where they most resemble baby chick thighs?  Last night, as self was preparing one of her sure-fire no-fail recipes, Lemon & Tarragon Chicken Fricassee, it occurred to her that the chicken thighs she was cleaning were rather petite.  Normally, a Costco chicken thigh is a plump, meaty thing, pumped up with all kinds of artifical steroids and looking invitingly like the Botticelli of all chicken thighs.

But last night’s thighs looked —  pathetic.  If self hadn’t already changed into her pajamas at the time she started cooking, she would have pushed the whole thing into a plastic bag and driven to Costco to show to a manager. 

Call this a chicken thigh?  Believe me, I know chicken thighs!  Chicken thighs are what brought my son through childhood!  We may not have been able to afford lamb chops or veal, but we always had chicken thighs!

As soon as hubby came home, self began on the subject of the chicken thighs.  “Just look at this!” self said, indicating her frying pan, where eight chicken thighs were sitting snugly together, barely filling the pan.  “Do these look like chicken thighs to you?”

Now, one sure sign that hubby is more than a tad distracted these days is that he walks over, takes one look at the pan, and says:  Yes.

Somewhat mollified, self finished cooking dinner.  But when it came time to eat, hubby mystifyingly took only one of the little picayune things (the sight of which, actually, began making self feel almost sick) and, after pushing it around on his plate a little bit, declared he was already full.  Something that has never, ever happened in the many long decades of self’s marriage.  There have been times when hubby barrels in the door with his briefcase, heads straight for the stove, and begins eating from the pot that self has bubbling there, such is the fulsomeness of the man’s appetite.  But these chicken thighs obviously had the capacity to kill appetite.  Self knows they did hers.

Reading for the Day: “Everything Bad is Good for You”

Perhaps because self is a bit under the weather, she has been racing through the book she is currently reading, absorbing big gobs of text and making like a speeding bullet.  She started it just Wednesday (after finally getting to the end of Sean Wilsey’s Oh the Glory of It All, a memoir she tried like might and main to postpone finishing —  self doesn’t know what happened but she ended up barreling through its 500 pages in something like five days)

Everything Bad is Good for You pretty much has just one point (Video games are making the current youth smarter!  Popular culture is getting more intellectually rigorous —  as witness the proliferation of such intricately plotted hit movies as “Memento” and “The Usual Suspects”!) but this morning, at approximately 5 a.m., self hit on a passage that she thinks is brilliant, just brilliant:

That some of the culture today does push at the boundaries of acceptable or healthy moral values shouldn’t surprise us, because it is in the nature of myth and storytelling to explore the edges of a society’s accepted beliefs and conventions.  Popular stories rarely flourish in environments of perfect moral clarity; they tend to blossom at exactly the spaces where some established order is being questioned or tested.  We’re still retelling the Oedipus myth precisely because it revolved around the violation of fundamental human values.  Stories of perfectly happy families —  where all laws are obeyed and no values are challenged —  don’t captivate us in the same way.  (Even The Brady Bunch required two preexisting nuclear families to break up for its own narrative to take flight.)  So when we see the popular culture exploring behavior that many see as morally bankrupt, we need to remind ourselves that deviating from an ethical norm is not just an old story.  In a real sense, it’s where stories begin.

Self sooo agrees with you, Steven Johnson!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Just a Quickie Post: Self Loved “Boy in the Striped Pajamas”

Yes, self did manage to give herself a treat today.  And she did make it to the Redwood City downtown cinema, to watch this movie, which she had been wanting to see for many weeks.

And she cried.  Which she hadn’t expected to do.

And she absolutely hated the ending, and didn’t think it was necessary.

But the little boys at the heart of this movie are amazingly true.  And so is a twelve-year-old girl who plays sibling to one of the boys.

And the real revelation of this movie is Vera Farmiga, who is absolutely heartbreaking.  (She should be nominated for an Oscar!  Self had no idea —  none —  when she saw her playing that obtuse psychiatrist in “The Departed,” the one who exhibited complete lack of psychological acuity by falling for Matt, that she could pull off something like this)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Self Hearts Jon Carroll

Self is right in the middle of what self will term “hell week”  This is the week after regular class has ended, the week when one would expect teachers to be kicking up their heels, but when they must still perforce put their noses to the grindstone because until all those exams and papers are graded and grades are posted, there can be no rest for the weary teacher.

Yesterday, or was that two days ago, self managed to convince herself that she was ill.  She placed endless calls to hubby at his start-up, 30 miles south, and to his credit hubby bore this scourge with commendable stoicism.  “Perhaps you should exercise,” he said once, helpfully.

Then, yesterday, self began to feel better.  She actually summoned the energy to sweep the living room (and uncovered many many many humongous balls of dog fur hiding under the sofas).  She even managed to answer all those errant students who had skipped at least a dozen classes and were now demanding that self show them some consideration by passing them, as they were just so “desperate.” (Oh, Lord, how these students do sap the energy)

But, all is well.  For, this evening, self happened to pick up the San Francisco Chronicle (of yesterday), and her eyes landed on a column by Jon Carroll.

Self loves Jon Carroll!  He never fails to make her laugh!  This particular column is about media celebrity Anderson Cooper.  How self wishes she could quote the entire article, but self’s fingers are not up to the task this evening.

While I was on vacation, which I spent at home because who has money to go on vacation, I happened upon a full-page newspaper advertisement with the headline, “Tonight, Dare to be Inspired,” above a glowering photograph of Anderson Cooper.

(The program turns out to something called “CNN Heroes.”

The program “CNN Heroes” salutes everyday people making a world of difference.  It was broadcast on Thanksgiving night, when everything else was in reruns, so why not?  Everyday heroes are apparently not a ratings grabber.  But worthy, oh so worthy.  “Worthy” is the infomercial of the news business.

(I do not, I should be clear, question the existence or utility of everyday heroes, volunteers doing thankless low-profile jobs to help the community, particularly those members of the community who cannot help themselves.  Indeed, Oakland, my hometown, is so ineptly and corruptly run that, were it not for everyday heroes, the entire place might fall apart.  The all-volunteer city!  Necessity is the mother of invention.  But I digress.  Again.)

I should say that this celebration of everyday heroes somehow involved Christina Aguilera, Kate Beckinsale, Cameron Diaz, Hugh Jackman, Lucy Liu, Meg Ryan, Forest Whitaker and a bunch of other celebrities.  Presumably, the relationship between the celebrities and the everyday heroes would have been made clearer had I watched the program, but I did not.

And now, self must quit blogging, so dear blog readers must just take self’s word for it when she says that the entire column is wildly funny and very well worth reading.  Stay tuned.

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