I hesitate to displace Russell's excellent gathering of essential war-news from the top of the listings in favour of utter frivolity, but, well, I'm going to. (For a moment, anyway; just watch Russell re-post within hours and move me on down!). So, Peter Jackson is going to remake the 1933 classic King Kong. Rock on, Wellywood! According to early reports, New York City will be played -- in a triumph of do-it-yourselfism -- by an empty field outside of Wellington. Damn, why didn't I think of that? The savings on rent, alone...
I hope this set, unlike Hobbiton, won't be summarily dismantled at the close of filming. Today's New York Times says that Americans are seeking out less dangerous spots to travel to, New Zealand being one of them (while Brazil and South Africa are edging out Australia as desirable destinations). Seems to me that a happy little 1930s ersatz Gotham situated at a convenient commuting distance from downtown Wellington is a resort concept just waiting to happen. You could catch a retired checkered cab out there from the airport, check into the reconstituted Plaza, and stroll down a truncated Broadway, ducking into a faux speakeasy for an illicit cocktail (curiously, Prohibition ended in the very same year that King Kong was released).
Speaking of speakeasies, we took Busytot out to a downtown bar'n'restaurant the other night (the Cowgirl Hall of Fame – great concept, fabulous company, absolutely crap food) and it wasn't until we were leaving that we realized something was different. It was smoke-free! We didn't smell like shit! I think I speak for millions of New Yorkers when I say "Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg, for ramming through what may well be a colossal assault on smokers' alleged rights, but is a long overdue and magnificent favour for the rest of us." I mean, talk about yer weapons of (insidious, ongoing) mass destruction. In a nice touch, the city is offering free nicotine patches to any New Yorkers who want to take this opportunity to give up the evil weed.
Back to King Kong. I wonder if Peter Jackson and his co-writers have taken due notice of the various critiques of the allegedly bogus race politics of the Lord of the Rings, both book and movie versions? After all, Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Phillippa Boyens are tackling what has been characterized as the story of yet another oppressed, exploited and unreasonably feared American of African origin being taken down by The Man when all he wants is to climb to the top of the business world and get a nice girlfriend. Except that, get this: in the original film, Kong's homeland, Skull Island, is actually located in – gasp -– the South Pacific! It's not a race-relations parable at all -- it's a brain drain story! The misunderstood ape is just angry about having to pay interest on his student loans back home while waiting tables illegally in the East Village, squatting in a squalid basement apartment, and surviving on bananas and day-old bread. I know plenty of people who'll pay to see that film.
The international situation is (in the immortal words of Tom Robbins) desperate, as usual. The news is ghastly and the pictures are worse; the protests continue -- but almost half-heartedly, it seems; and Salam Pax has fallen silent... just lying low, I hope. Like most of you, I'm just reading and thinking a lot. Much good it does me, or anyone else. Still, here's a useful overview of the incredibly slippery rhetorical slope that got us where we currently are. This thoughtful blog-piece asks some very good questions about what it means to demand "Peace" with no strings attached. And, thinking globally and acting locally, a couple of weeks ago this local mum stood up and gave her best on behalf of the Easter Bunny, protesting the revoltingly tacky war-themed Easter baskets on sale at K-Mart. Chocolate eggs and GI Joe, just the thing for the season. Amy was arrested for her troubles (albeit reluctantly -- it seems that city cops have better things to do than handcuff women in fluffy slippers). I'm sorry I missed the notice about this protest – I'd have been there with ears on.
You do what you can, where you can, and sometimes you do something completely pointless yet satisfying, just to take your mind off things. Today that consisted of taking Busytot to the park for a good old play. It was briskly cold, with a hint of the foot-deep snow we're meant to be getting tomorrow, but two of his little friends were there and he made a third, a very sweet boy who barrelled up out of nowhere and gave him a hug. Our little lad went down the spiral slide for the first time (on his tummy, feet first, about twice as quickly as he expected to), was kissed by two friendly dogs, and tentatively fed a passing squirrel -- I know, I know, they're rats in fur coats, but they are very winning.
Later, during naptime, I set to mucking out my neglected recipe folder. I winnowed the complicated, duplicated, or just plain disgusting (rhubarb, mushrooms and asparagus, anyone?) recipes I've accumulated over the years, and sorted the fast, frugal, and fun ones into useful categories. It's a plain old ringbinder, but I at some point I gussied up the cover with luridly unappetising photos snipped from a vintage pressure-cooker cookbook. Just to give you an idea, "Meat Dishes" is the caption to one particularly ghastly picture of what might possibly be a lonely slab of beef (it looks like some kind of bovine by-product, anyway), flanked by pallid slices of cucumber and a tablespoon of peas nestled in half an apricot (I think), the whole thing displayed flirtatiously on an eye-crossing op-art gingham tablecloth.
What I'd forgotten until looking at it again today was that the centrepiece of my collage of '50s food photos is an actual recipe salvaged from the book. Entitled, quite simply, Squirrel, it calls for:
salt and pepper
1/4 cup fat
1 cup water
2 tbsp flour
It's fast all right (20 mins in the pressure-cooker; you can write me for detailed instructions if you're mad, er, keen) and frugal. But fun? Ay, I hope I never have to use it.