December 5th, 2011

cook with fire

Hungering for more

The Next Iron Chef has increased in intensity twelvefold. Not only are the remaining chefs top of their class, one gets attached to them after watching them over several weeks. To see one eliminated -- even one you don't particularly care for -- is traumatic. The show is sort of like Highlander ("There can be only one!") in the kitchen.

Of the four remaining chefs, I think Alex Guarneschelli is the weakest and least interesting to watch. Geoffrey Zakarian is probably the most technically proficient chef remaining, but he has a hard time stepping outside his comfort zone. I'm guessing the final will be between Elizabeth Falkner and Michael Chiarello. I'm sorta rooting for Chef Falkner. I think we have enough exemplars of Italian cuisine on Iron Chef America.

For a friend

A Cliché Came Out of Its Cage

You said 'The world is going back to Paganism'. Oh bright
Vision! I saw our dynasty in the bar of the House
Spill from their tumblers a libation to the Erinyes,
And Leavis with Lord Russell wreathed in flowers, heralded with flutes,
Leading white bulls to the cathedral of the solemn Muses
To pay where due the glory of their latest theorem.
Hestia's fire in every flat, rekindled, burned before
The Lardergods. Unmarried daughters with obedient hands
Tended it. By the hearth the white-arm'd venerable mother
Domum servabat, lanam faciebat. Duly at the hour
Of sacrifice their brothers came, silent, corrected, grave
Before their elders; on their downy cheeks easily the blush
Arose (it is the mark of freemen's children) as they trooped,
Gleaming with oil, demurely home from the palaestra or the dance.
Walk carefully, do not wake the envy of the happy gods,
Shun Hubris. The middle of the road, the middle sort of men,
Are best. Aidos surpasses gold. Reverence for the aged
Is wholesome as seasonable rain, and for a man to die
Defending the city in battle is a harmonious thing.
Thus with magistral hand the Puritan Sophrosune
Cooled and schooled and tempered our uneasy motions;
Heathendom came again, the circumspection and the holy fears . . .
You said it. Did you mean it? Oh inordinate liar, stop.

Or did you mean another kind of heathenry?
Think, then, that under heaven-roof the little disc of the earth,
Fortified Midgard, lies encircled by the ravening Worm.
Over its icy bastions faces of giant and troll
Look in, ready to invade it. The Wolf, admittedly, is bound;
But the bond will break, the Beast run free. The weary gods,
Scarred with old wounds, the one-eyed Odin, Tyr who has lost a hand,
Will limp to their stations for the last defence. Make it your hope
To be counted worthy on that day to stand beside them;
For the end of man is to partake of their defeat and die
His second, final death in good company. The stupid, strong
Unteachable monsters are certain to be victorious at last,
And every man of decent blood is on the losing side.
Take as your model the tall women with yellow hair in plaits
Who walked back into burning houses to die with men,
Or him who as the death spear entered into his vitals
Made critical comments on its workmanship and aim.
Are these the Pagans you spoke of? Know your betters and crouch, dogs;
You that have Vichy-water in your veins and worship the event,
Your goddess History (whom your fathers called the strumpet Fortune).
-- C.S. Lewis
mad hatter

All hail the Great Goddess Nonsense

The Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling that upholds a New York Public School policy on not renting facilities to worshiping congregations. Not that anybody is around doing school on Sundays mind you, and not that anybody is cutting the congregation renting the space some kind of sweetheart deal on the rent. So, what's the Schools' beef? The mere presence of paying customers conducting a worship service after hours might confuse somebody into mistaking this commercial transaction for an endorsement of religion -- and thus, a violation of the separation of church and state.

I have encountered this kind of tortured logic before among schoolie types. When I was teaching a class for undergraduate teaching majors, I had a bunch of Health Ed teachers-to-be in the class. The subject of cigarette machines came up. They were appalled that there was a cigarette machine in the Teachers Lounge of an area high school. Now, note that no students were allowed to be in the Teachers Lounge. It was an adult-only area. The students couldn't even see the machine. But the fact that it was there was taken by our young health Nazis as evidence of an endorsement of value by the school. The school was saying that smoking is OK, just by having this hidden-away cigarette machine for the convenience of the teachers.

I couldn't believe my ears. I pressed them on this. "The mere presence of the machine on the campus constitutes an endorsement of the use of the product?" I asked. Absolutely. They were unanimous. The machine was propaganda, and it crossed the line. Away with it!

So, I asked, what about condom machines in the dormitories at our own university? Would not the presence of such machines constitute an endorsement by the university of fornication? Shouldn't the university refrain from endorsing casual sex among undergraduates? (After all, you can go to the drugstore and buy them right off the shelf.) Every one of the undergraduates, especially the young women for some reason, got a smirky smile on their faces. "Oh, no," they said. "That's just a public service."