Category Archives: Friendly Advice
Merry Christmas everybody!
The holidays are once again, unavoidably upon us, and as you might expect, Christmas Eve finds me a tad behind schedule. As such (and because last year at this time I had approximately four regular readers) I’m going to go ahead and recycle 2011′s Christmas advice post. I hope you’ll all forgive me, but it’s nine am and already the stove is smoking, the tree is listing and I’m eyeing the Jameson’s bottle that’s dangerously close to my coffee cup. I’m afraid something fresh and new is completely out of the question at this point, and in truth, has been for some little time. So, for your skimming pleasure…..
What is all the fuss about?
May I speak frankly? Thank you.
I hate kale. I mean I really, really loathe it. Even more than okra, even more than radishes.
It’s not for lack of trying it either. I have nibbled the ubiquitous superfood in salads, baked it into chips, steamed, buttered, braised and sautéed it. I’ve even tried tarting it up with spicy mango salsa, and the verdict is in, children. Kale is nasty. It tastes exactly the way I imagine soylent green would, and it smells like the inside of a teenage boy’s sneaker as it cooks, after which time the aroma of putrid cabbage lingers in the house for approximately five years. The odor has a half-life, people!
Kale stalks are tough and fiberous, the taste makes you wretch, and it returns on you, if you take my meaning. The last time I gagged some down, the flavor lingered in my mouth even after three toothbrushings, a careful flossing and Listerine rinse, and half a dozen tequila shooters with lime and salt. That is some awe-inspiring staying power.
Yeah yeah yeah, I know, it’s got every freakin’ vitamin and nutrient in the world and probably a bunch that haven’t even been discovered yet. There’s folic acid and protein in the leaves, it regulates your digestion, conquers cancer and prevents every disease known to man, as well as — again — some horrible afflictions no one has even come down with, let alone found a cure for, as yet. It’s downright miraculous.
Which is why, I suppose, it is currently turning up on every goddamned plate in every overpriced, artisanal restaurant in New York City, more often than not accompanied by pork belly, lardons, thick cut bacon or some other equally fatty, heavily smoked, thoroughly undigestible subcutaneous pork product. By the time the dynamic duo of leaves like wire brushes and jagged nuggets of semi-masticated pork scratchings has blazed a trail through your digestive tract, you will be keenly aware of having eaten something, let me assure you. And don’t even get me started on what it takes to extract the remnants of same from between your crowns. A little after dinner fracking, anyone?
So I’m drawing a line in the sand — think of me as the Gaddafi of roughage. There will be no more kale in the Slattern’s culinary realm. I will not buy it in the pathetic hope that I will find an appetizing and savory way to cook it. If it appears as a side dish for a $25 entrée, I will insist on extra cauliflower gratin instead. And if someone offers me a green smoothie saying, “You’ll never guess what’s in this!” they’d best be prepared to wear it.
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Think you’ve got the stomach for even more semi-coherent ranting? I’m not so sure, but if you’re game, why not check out these other posts? Welcome to the monkey house, folks.
In the event this is all too much, may I suggest you take a gander at some of the blogs listed right over there in the sidebar? All are excellent and bear the Slattern’s seal of approval.
Life advice from the trenches
I just deposited my one and only shining light of a daughter at college this week, and it’s got me thinking – about many things, but mostly about the passage of wisdom from one generation to the next and the ceaseless march of time (and the boot prints it’s left on my face). It’s also got me trying to properly balance a cocktail of psycho-pharmaceuticals with a raging hormonal imbalance while swimming in a veritable river of dirty martinis, but that’s a tale for another day.
It seems like only yesterday I was a student myself, though it was actually so long ago you could measure the time in geologic eras, or at the very least dog years. As is invariably the case with the long dead past, it now seems like a much simpler time: the scourge of AIDS had yet to destroy promiscuity (though herpes had taken a lot of the spontaneity out of it); you didn’t need an advanced degree in molecular mixology to make a gin and tonic; an ounce of weed could be financed with a simple ATM withdrawal (I am told) rather than requiring a leveraged trust fund payout or a significant shift in the futures market; and Eddie Murphy was actually funny.
These days, however, our best and brightest enter the hallowed halls of higher education only to contend with the complexities of speech codes, the ins and outs of political correctness, exacting recycling rules and a steady stream of “chem-free mixers.” I don’t know whether the last is a soft drink or a no fun allowed social event, though really what difference does it make? In any case, I think it’s safe to assume that navigating the transition to adulthood is a bit more challenging than it once was, what with one thing and another.
Anyhoo, the Little Slattern has flown the coop, fledged the nest, made like a banana and split, and she is now off at school making memories, thundering toward being a grown up and acquiring vast oceans of very expensive, almost entirely useless knowledge. (Tell me, can you recall the difference between the en soi and the pour soi, calculate anything with a logarithm, or explain a single concept related to Economics beyond the law of supply and demand? Neither can I.)
Unfortunately, I now realize that I failed to pass along to her most of the practical knowledge and critical life lessons I have accumulated these past NUMBER REDACTED PER THE AUTHOR years. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about: family recipes, pearls of wisdom, stories of youthful hijinks, tips on fashion, reminders about the importance of good grooming and having a skilled trial attorney on retainer. It wasn’t for lack of trying on my part; rather, it was largely because as soon as I started to tell my daughter a story or relate an edifying anecdote she promptly left the room. And since she prefers not to read my blog for reasons that are abundantly clear to anyone who hangs around for a post or two, I’ll just have to share my motherly advice with you. Here goes:
Your underwear should be concealed by your clothing.
What’s that? Obviously, you say? Oh, I beg to differ. Ever since the Material Girl first flashed her big black bra, life on the streets of our cities and towns has been a nonstop lingerie peep show. These days, you’re more likely to see a whale tail on the checkout line at H&M than on the Discovery Channel, and brightly colored brassieres under white t-shirts have ceased to be mortifying fashion faux pas and become instead “fashion statements.”
I thought I’d seen it all until I took a walk through the Public Gardens in Boston recently and encountered this innovative take on “daywear.”
Now how in the name of all that’s holy this poor gal concluded that this was any way to leave the house I cannot say. Perhaps her mother forgot to tell her that a bra is not a blouse, or maybe she’s blind and accidentally put on her boyfriend’s jock strap instead of a tank top while dressing that morning. I don’t know, it could be she somehow got her outfit on sideways. It doesn’t really matter how this fashion equivalent of a crime against humanity found it’s way to the public view. What matters is that it never happens again. Ever.
So ladies, please take my advice and leave something – anything really – to the imagination. Give your friends and neighbors something to wonder about. Maintain an air mystery as to what’s happening under your dress, because unless you’re Giselle Bundchen, the reality is often a tad disappointing.
Just because you can, it doesn’t follow that you should.
This has so many applications, it’s hard to know which to choose. OK, let’s just say, hypothetically, that you have excellent balance and posture and that your house cat likes to ride on your head and will calmly do so, even when taken out on busy city streets. Does this mean you should drag said cat outside on a cold winter day and parade around — oh I don’t know — lower Manhattan, for example, with it perched on your head? I think you know the answer. I think we all do.
Your teeth are not tools.
Do not use them to open bottles. Except in emergencies.
“Your father and I did not spend thousands of dollars on orthodontia, extractions and headgear to straighten out that congenital underbite just so that you could chip every tooth in your head with some drunken shenanigans.”
That was not an emergency.
Thank heaven for screw top bottles. And toga parties.
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Photos of Cat Head and Bra Girl are both property of WS Winslow.
Once again I have sought a way to break through my now chronic writer’s block, and once again Martha has delivered, this time not a mimsy little hand drill, but a great big motherfucker of a sledgehammer to blast through the creative dam. In the form of this:
As you might have guessed, Martha thinks crafting vastly improves the al fresco dining experience. I, however, beg to differ. So let’s just take this apart, shall we?
In the above image of picnic bliss — as well as all the others in the feature article — we see lovely refreshments in pristine natural settings where comfy pillows, tasteful linens, frosty beverages and delicious treats await the arrival of well-heeled, scrupulously upholstered guests for a glass of perfectly chilled rosé accompanied by lighthearted, yet penetrating discussions of the great books, the events of the day, and Martha’s supreme wonderfulness. Heaven on a beach.
Here’s what we don’t see:
- The army of cooks, sommeliers and stylists who provisioned the picnic over the course of three long, hellish working days
- The legions of domestic staff who humped all the aforementioned picnic accoutrements and food across approximately six miles of burning sand to a properly secluded spot on the beach
- The team of photographers, gophers and fluffers (for the pillows, people) required to get the one perfect snapshot of the perfect beach party setting
- The raging inferno of citronella candles necessary in any outdoor situation that entails humans and food
- Whiny kids who don’t want cucumber sandwiches for lunch, and even if they did, wouldn’t eat them because they’d be full of sand
- Sunburned adults being driven to madness by mosquito bites, the horror of appearing in a social situation in swimwear, and the insufferable domestic drill sergeant at the center of their party universe
- The exhausted host and hostess throwing this shindig who have already had about six knock-down drag-out fights in the run-up to it and are well on their way to getting absolutely blind drunk, disappearing behind a dune with someone other than their spouse and eventually filing for divorce.
I hate picnics.
Quite simply, there is not enough vodka in the world to make a picnic — or any outdoor dining event — worth your while, especially if you have to hand paint the picnic basket, waterproof the blanket, make special cocktail glass flowers and create a collapsible dog bowl to do it. This kind of event requires staff, people. And pharmaceuticals, which can be carefully blended for each party guest’s particular emotional needs, then distributed in colorful origami baskets that have been personalized with decorative name tags! Now that’s crafting with a purpose.
Three different meals in one night? This cannot be true. Doesn’t anybody remember the days of “eat that Swedish meatball/fish pie/liver and onion surprise, or go to bed hungry”? We all survived it — well maybe that’s a stretch. I’m sure someone was done in by Rumaki at some point in human history, and certainly more than one innocent child has been forever emotionally scarred by a plate of organ meats, but still, can it really be that there are parents out there who are actually going through the hell of getting three different meals on the table at once after cocktail hour has begun? How can this be? I mean really, making one decent meal a night is freakin’ hard enough, but three different ones? And if this is going on in the UK, where people are far more practical than over here in the land of Everybody’s Special, can you imagine what’s happening in kitchens across the US? Are Americans making five meals a night?
Now, I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled upon this article, but I can tell you this: There is absolutely no way anyone should be making multiple meals at any time or for any reason. That’s why God, in His infinite wisdom, invented cereal. Now, is Cheerios an adequate, nutritious meal? Not every night of the week, but it can easily be prepared by even the most the recalcitrant four year-old, it does not create much in the way of extra clean up, and as an occasional dinner it probably will neither kill nor traumatize even the spleeniest, most specialest child.
I’ve got to say that this article has really rocked my world. It may have been some time since I grappled with a finicky child, but I can certainly recall occasions when the little Slattern’s dinner consisted exclusively of rice and salt. On nights like that the only way peas made it into her body was through her nose, and let me tell you extracting them took some little effort. But whatever, the next morning she’d wake up hungry and happily tuck into scrambled eggs and apple slices for breakfast and no one was any the worse for wear. Unless of course we’d had to perform some nasal fracking the night before. (By the way, I have found that a little black pepper on the upper lip consistently produces a sneeze strong enough to dislodge event the most deeply impacted produce.)