Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Wilonsky expressed his displeasure with Casey for blowing the Latin Lunch challenge and with Tre Wilcox for doing the same with the barbecue challenge: "They live in Dallas, sure, but do they ever eat here?"
But Wilonsky reserved the majority of his snarking for Casey's lachrymose tendencies:
But what wasn't surprising was that once more, Casey made Lia's exit all about Casey. As she did last week, she turned someone else's misery into her own camera time. Instead of letting Lia tell the rest of the so-called cheftestants she'd been trimmed and discarded, Casey walked ahead of her: "The very talented and inspiring chef Lia is going home," she uttered between teardrops, and, as the missus pointed out, "Casey always makes it all about Casey." Because, yeah, while the sentiment was nice and all, all the other chefs get to say their own goodbyes without the need for a stand-in.
So imagine our curiosity when we saw the following comment left on Wilonsky's blog:
"Casey Thompson says:
You seem to know the whole situation! I didn't know that such pertinent information could be deriven from tears! Wow.
Posted at: July 21, 2007 11:53 AM"
Is that the real Casey? Was she joking? Was she being sarcastic? What derove her to it? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.
Possums, some of our best friends are straight American women, so don't take this as a knock. And we are acolytes of the cult of duck fat (pommes sarladaises and duck confit, anyone?), so we'll give Sam "I'd make love in duck fat" Talbot some points, but seriously, what do y'all see in him? We look at that frightening eyebrow and that surly mouth, and we just don't get it. Straight women of America, feel free to enlighten us.
Sandee, possum, we looked at your hands (not that we were examining your finger-length ratio), and trust us, we know exactly how you feel. If we were sitting that close to Lia Bardeen, our hands would be itching too. Who would dare blame you? That pose, that sultry, almost half-lidded look, the gnocchi-soft lips, the gently sloping bazooms--er, pardon us while we take a moment to remind ourselves that we're gay.
But guess what, Sandee, possum? You might just have a chance with Lia after all.
Which brings us to the placement of the question mark in the headline. We have no doubt--no serious doubt, at any rate--that today is Tuesday. The bisexual bit, however, is something else altogether, but we figured the question mark would look odd anywhere else.
Our grammatical quandary is the result of two anonymous comments left by Amuse-Biatch readers suggesting that when Lia is looking to poach something in olive oil, she might favor both shrimp and scallops:
Just to comment, I've known Lia for a while. She used to have a girlfriend...[S]he was dating, and living, with the girl. She was never a shy bookish little girl. She has, and wears, black lingerie with garters and all. Curly or straight, blonde or brunette, she is, or at least was, a dangerous sexpot.
Well, I suppose it could be something made up, but it isn't. She just broke up with her girlfriend and moved out less than a year ago. They had dated for years...She's dating a boy now, there by [sic] making her entire family of lesbians (sister, mother) I suppose somewhat sad.
Again, we stress that these are anonymous and entirely unsubstantiated rumors, and that we are not presenting them as true, but to us they are nonetheless thrilling, titillating, and delightful. We adored literature major Lia when we thought she merely read Sarah Waters novels; now that it is possible she lives them as well, we positively worship her. If it's true, Lia, possum, welcome to the club.
If nothing else, we take this opportunity to respond to another Amuse-Biatch reader, who pleaded with us, "More pictures of Lia please..."
Well, possum, never let it be said that we are unresponsive to our readers, and since you did say please, here's what we were able to dredge up:
Monday, July 30, 2007
Elementary, My Dear Thompson: Geography Lessons with Dallas' Own Miss Casey As She Makes a Run for the Border
"I live in Texas, I'm close to the border. I actually have quite a bit of knowledge working with Latin food."
Well, possums, what with the skunk strip and the waterworks, we guess there's a reason she keeps on sending us over the borderline.
Well, possums, as no doubt he's been often told, Andrew Sullivan has a lot to answer for.
The National Post, a Canadian newspaper, makes the self-described bear and "conservative" gay columnist responsible for giving bears "an aura of credibility and ma[king] them feel a little less marginal." (Heck, we'll even go so far as to blame him for the appearance of bear porn on Conan O'Brien.)
And last week's edition of "Watch What Happens" certainly proves the increasingly mainstream aspect of being a bear, as a visibly mortified Tom Colicchio was informed by a viewer from Guerneville, California--though we can hardly believe it was the first time--that he is "an icon in the bear community."
(This is the equivalent of being told by a resident of Amsterdam that you are an icon of legalized pot and prostitution; in other words, they know from bears in Guerneville.) Not that we're surprised; we've been calling Tom Colicchio a bear for a long time.
There was knowing laughter in the studio after the question, and no laughter more knowing than that of Ilan Hall. So Ilan knows the definition of a heretofore marginalized segment of the gay community? Well, color us and Lalalina gobsmacked.
Despite showing umpteen inches' worth of Tom Selleck-lite chest hair, and despite being the New York-resident, Sarah Jessica Parker-befriendin', Hairspray-watchin', Madonna-lovin', Diana Ross-worshippin', Kathy Griffin-greenlightin' cheerleader of the gayest network on television, Bravo VP Raggaydy Andy Cohen, sporting an expression that said, "Bear? Qu'est-ce que c'est?" turned it over to Ted Allen, much as President Bush might turn to dominatrix-boot-wearing Condolezzie Rice and say, "Hey, Condi, this here question's about Eye-ran and nukular disarmament, so why dontcha take it."
Ted Allen's natural modesty and low-key charm gave way almost to maiden-aunt frisson in his role as Secretary of State the Obvious, as in "My understanding of the bear community, which is extremely limited." Goodness gracious, as if one might call him Goldilocks if his understanding of bears were anything but extremely limited. Why so afraid of the bears, Bravo queer guys? Your honeypots are undoubtedly safe.
Ted did go on to define bears as "gay men who appreciate…muscular, strong, really masculine, burly men. So apparently, the burly gay men of America find you delicious, Tom." (Just one thing: except for the burly part--gay men being by and large horribly vicious body fascists--Ted's definition would seem to make every gay man in America, and Hung Huynh, a bear.)
Judging by Tom's giggly, uncomfortable reaction, maybe Colicchio's the bear they're all afraid of. We found it particularly delicious, if that's the term, that on a show so heavily based on objectifying Padma Lakshmi, the male gaze should have turned the tables and its red-hot rays on Colicchio himself. Is it any wonder Tom was voted the sexiest judge by the viewers, beating both Padma and that Tit-anic Iceberg, Gail Simmons? (That's not meant as a slam against Gail; we are huge fans of buxom women with a touch of frost.) In other words, the audience for Top Chef must include an awful lot of women and gays.
Now, let's flesh out, as it were, Ted Allen's definition. The Los Angeles Times defines bears as "burly guys who identify with a masculine style and who shun the popular image of homosexual guys as smooth, hairless, Calvin-Klein-ish blond young men," and records the Linnaean ingenuity of the homosexualist when it comes to men:
"Thin bears are called 'otters.' Younger guys are 'cubs,' East Asian guys are 'panda bears,' and gray-haired gents are 'polar bears.' For aficionados of the bear physique, the ideal male body is that of Tony Soprano (especially in the show's recent seasons, when the mob boss puts on weight)."
The National Post adds that: "A Wolf is simply a more aggressive version of an Otter. As for a Chaser, he's a guy who definitely isn't a Bear, but loves Bears."
And so with that handy taxonomy in our back pocket, let us take a look at Top Chef.
Why, the set of "Watch What Happens" was o'errun with bears. In addition to daddy bear Tom, there were Big Gay Dave from Season 1, aka Peroxide Bear, Cry-Bear, or Care(Too Much) Bear, and Michael "Beer Bong" Midgley ("Bear Bong"?) from Season 2. Ilan and Raggaydy Andy (Jews with chest hair! Who knew?) could at least qualify as otters.
Season 3 has Joey Paulino aka Joey Pickles the Eyetalian Tantrum-Throwing Bear™, Howie Kleinberg (Sweaty Bear), and Dale Levitski (he of the tantalizingly shiver-inducing "caveman hands," who claims not to have gotten the gay shopping gene). And let's not forget Norman Van Aken.
Season 2 had Frank Terzoli (originally dubbed the Bambino Bear), an older model of the Eyetalian Tantrum-Throwing Bear™ (discontinued after it threatened to beat a Cabbage Patch Doll so severely that its own mother wouldn't recognize the resulting slaw), as well as Bear Bong, Cliff Crooks (whom we dubbed Valrhona Bear oh-so-long-ago), and Lychee Bear Otto Borsich, a gentle breed. In terms of judges, just off the top of our heads, we remember Lee Hefter, Raphael Lunetta, Wylie Dufresne, and Ming Tsai.
So, you see, possums, we think we've made our point. Bravo is Lipton, and train wrecks, and bears, oh my!
Allora, Tommy, just accept the fact that you're a great, big hunk of bear meat. And don't worry. After all, like lobster, bear meat is supposed to be very low in cholesterol.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
From Sam Talbot's latest blog:
What have I been doing?
...I'm also working on a book with my boy...Meeting as many people as I can. Buying too many pairs of shoes....
Friday, July 27, 2007
Dispatches from the Department of the Obvious: Bisexual Villain Hung Huynh Is a Snake and an Airy Fairy
As per a fascinating report we happened upon, Hung, who was born on January 25, 1978, is, according to the Chinese zodiac, a Snake. His birthdate also makes him an Aquarius, which is, paradoxically, an Air sign. Hence the "airy fairy" of the headline.
Other revelations? CJ Jacobson is a Rabbit, which means we may have to start calling him Harvey instead of Jowly Green Giant. (Honk if you love Jimmy Stewart movies.)
Brian "Asshat" Malarkey is a Rat, but don't expect us to call him Ratatouille any time soon.
Dale Levitski's an Ox. "Bull!" calls out Miss XaXa, though we can't decide whether she's vehemently disagreeing or merely purring a corrective.
Fittingly, Howie is a Dog and Joey is a Rabbit. "Down the Rabbithole," sasses Miss XaXa.
Unsurprisingly, Tom is a Tiger (and Bear, oh my!).
But the most interesting thing of all is that Gail Simmons is a Blank. According to the website, it's "impossible to find birth info for Gail Simmons, the JD Salinger of the table." And that, we think, is the best title ever.
Eyebrow-Plucking Cheftestant Hung Huynh Comes Out in Favor of Both Geoduck and Clams, Becomes America's Next Top Bisexual Villain
Due to personal circumstances, our attitudes towards bisexuals have not always been the most enlightened.
But we've made progress: from "They should all be herded and dropped off on a rocky island with goats. On second thought, the poor goats haven't done anything to deserve it. Evacuate the goats first" to "Mary, puh-leeze. Elton John used to claim to be bisexual" to "Just pick a hole already" to "Oh, well, whatevs."
And now, as perhaps the final step on our road to recovery, we are happy to welcome into the fold newly emerged bisexual Hung Huyhn. On Wednesday's craptastic special, he airily (fairily?) conceded that he goes both ways, or, as the French so elegantly put it, that his boat is powered by both steam and wind (à voile et à vapeur).
We will ignore our misgivings about the efficacy of our gaydar, or whether his audition-tape AC/DC admission was merely an insincere ploy to get attention, or, as with so many LUG (lesbians until graduation), a way to make himself "interesting." After all, ain't that the trouble with bisexuals, that you never know?
Oops, just a little unenlightened hiccup, that; please ignore it, possums. We meant nothing by it.
At the very beginning of the season, when we thought Hung might be straight, we wondered whether you had to be gay to be a Great Gay Villain. Hung's bisexuality is merely the answer to that debate.
Update--Here's an explanation from a commenter:
"I'm assuming the reference to Casey's bad highlights has to do with the fact that only the top and face-framing side’s [sic] of her hair are highlighted. Any good stylist (I consider myself one) would ask a client requesting highlights if they pull their hair back. If the answer is yes, highlights would be applied to the sides, and undersides near the back of the neck. This way, when the hair is pulled into a ponytail, you will continue to see the highlights. Not the light strip of streaks on top (known as skunk strip) Casey sports on the show. Hello, hair coloring 101."
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Possums, forget the French toast that won her the Quickfire Challenge. This is Casey Thompson's winning dish. Indeed, it is she, and not Joey Paulino, who has a future in tarts. And we can think of no higher compliment.
We always had a soft spot for Lia Bardeen because she worked for Jean-Georges Vongerichten, studied literature in college, and wanted to be a literature professor. That's just about our definition of the perfect woman. Well, if we liked women in that way. (Nigella Lawson and Little Debbie, she of the Oatmeal Creme Pies, are also perfect women as far as we're concerned).
And yet, not since Dorothy Malone let down her hair in the bookstore in front of Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep had we seen such a va-vavoom transformation of an adorable bluestocking into a full-throttle vamp.
And we owe it all to Casey, who became Lia's bazoom buddy during the show. Before Casey of the Bad Highlights and the Push-up Bra got ahold of her, Lia had the perhaps fraught relationship with her appearance that you would expect of a Literature or Women's Studies major: as she mentioned in an interview, "my hair was always changing - I loved dyeing it and cutting it in crazy ways. I shaved my head when I was a junior and pierced my nose."
Imagine, then, the clarity of vision that came when, as Lia confessed, Casey "taught [her] to blow-dry [her] hair straight."
And just look at the results. You blow-dry a woman's hair straight, you make her look good for a day. You teach a woman how to blow-dry her own hair straight, you make her look good for a lifetime. Bless you, Sister Casey. Thy good works shall indeed be remembered.
Possums, we'll get into the substance (ha!) and smarm of what Ilan Hall said at a later time. For now, we just wanted to utter our best Munchian scream at what Ilan Hall is wearing. (For the moment, ignore the lanky, morally challenged, surly diabetic lesbian sitting to his left. Oh, that's Sam Talbot, you say? And you say he's straight? And you say that there's absolutely no symbolic content to a prime Clippergate participant getting a buzz cut? Ok, we'll take your word for it.)
Never mind showing up in a tuxedo at 8:30 a.m., which is when this reunion was shot. What we deplore is, first, the terrible fit and too-short pant-legs on the tuxedo. We are tempted to blame the gay, prissy, tyrannical, obsessive-compulsive men's designer du jour, Thom Browne (take that, Tom Ford), who is known for just this sort of look. It's certainly a low point in highwater pants.
More disturbing is the lack of socks. We've been meaning for ages to write a post about socklessness and foot fetishism on these Bravo shows, but our brain cells rebel at the thought. Suffice it to remember the stink over Jonathan Adler's stockingless feet on Top Design, Tom Colicchio's sockless appearance on Top Design as well, Raggaydy Andy's live online sock striptease for a fetishist in New Mexico, Colicchio's continued sockless (even barefoot) jaunts in the Season 3 promotional campaign, together with barefoot Ted Allen, and a barefoot Padma Lakshmi kicking up water. Something is definitely afoot.
Possums, have you ever been on a bad date?
Let's say you go out with someone and they invite you back to their apartment (pardon our use of the third-person plural pronoun, but we're trying to make this universal).
You kiss for a little bit, and the first kiss turns out to be good.
Subsequent kisses, however, turn out to be bland and boring, and you find yourself looking at your watch behind their head as you kiss.
Then the boring kissing is interrupted while they take a "break." And then they come back, and the kissing resumes, and gets a tad better.
And then the kissing stops again, because your date pulls out their photo album and insists you sit on the couch with them and look at their stupid vacation photos and talk about what a great person your date is.
What would you do at this point, possums? Would you stay in the hopes that the kissing would resume and get better once the damned photo album got put away, and, heck, maybe even get to second base? Or would you decide it wasn't worth it, walk out, go home and take matters into your own hands, as it were?
That's exactly how we felt last night watching "Watch What Happens" (though we weren't nearly as angry as New York Magazine restaurant critic Adam Platt, who referred to Raggaydy Andy as "the goofball in the tan suit," which might make a nice companion piece to The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit).
We fail utterly to see the purpose of this reunion special. We're not against reunion specials as a rule; neither do we insist that they turn into drunken free-for-alls. But reunion specials logically take place at the end of the season. This one had a whiff of last-minute scrambling, and not in the Mickey-and-Judy, hey-kids-let's-put-on-a-show way. Our best guess is that something must have happened. Perhaps Bravo simply needed more time to edit some oomph into the remaining episodes, and to prepare for the shooting of the live finale in Aspen, Colorado.
At least that's what we hope. We'd hate to think it was just sheer idiocy on their part (though that cry-for-euthanasia that is Paula Abdul's show certainly begs the question, They shoot horse's asses, don't they?)
Hey, Paula, er, Bravo, watch what happens when you fuck with your audience.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
During tonight's broadcast of "Watch What Happens," during which, we are told, Raggaydy Andy indirectly alluded to Amuse-Biatch when discussing the Fauxmicah controversy--because, let's face it, who else posted her yearbook pictures?--we received a fascinating little missive in our inbox.
It purports to come from Micah Edelstein's sister, and from Wayward and Biatchstein's enterprising preliminary investigation it certainly appears to be genuine. However, we of course cannot and do not vouch for it. And with that disclaimer out of the way, let 'er rip:
Trust me, I grew up in the same house as her, she is my younger sister!
Our father is from Cape Town, South Africa, and we have been there. But we were all born and raised in Massachusetts, but we absolutely don't have the typical pak the cah accent, but neither our younger brother or me sound like Micah.
All our family and friends have no clue where she invented this from.
[redacted], nee Edelstein
And so, we’d like to tell you about Paul Schmidtberger.
Paul is a droll writer friend of long standing, and our friendship has, at various times, involved Jean-Paul Gaultier’s hand, Lenny Kravitz’s favorite falafel, the Père Lachaise cemetery, and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven (though, bien sûr, not all at once).
And now the bitch has gone and gotten a comic novel published. And by Doubleday, no less.
And did we mention that Publisher’s Weekly described the novel as “a promising debut about love, friendship and anger-management” and “an assuredly entertaining romp”? Like we said: Bitch.
Paul, one of the funniest people we know, hails from deepest, darkest New Jersey. Schooley’s Mountain, to be precise. As Paul notes, that’s near Hackettstown, which “is famous because the remains of a wooly mammoth were discovered there,” transported to Harvard, and given the misnomer “Harvard Mastodon.” The mastodon, Paul assures us, was “the last candidate from Hackettstown to get into Harvard.”
Paul himself went to Yale, then did the whole Lost in Translation thing in Japan before Sofia Coppola made winsome, quasi-comedic, Tokyo-based anomie fashionable. Then, of course, he cornered the market in anomie by going to work for an international law firm that was like the collective hallucination of Stanley Kubrick, the Marx Brothers, and the now-deceased Supreme Leader of Turkmenistan.
Paul’s travails at the law firm ended thus: “Typically, the decision to leave a law firm is one that’s undertaken after careful consideration and reflection. In my case, the firm made things easier by firing me, marching me downstairs, and throwing me out onto the street. Me and the apple I'd been planning to have for a snack that afternoon. Hey, thanks.”
And now, Doubleday has published Paul’s first novel, Design Flaws in the Human Condition. The back of the book tells you all:
Set in Manhattan - the conniption capital of the world - a riotously funny and fresh debut novel about anger, infidelity, and friendship.
Through a hilarious series of events, two strangers find themselves railroaded into an anger-management class, where they soon become fast friends. Iris is there because of an eminently justifiable meltdown on a crowded flight, whereas Ken got caught defacing library books with rude (but true!) messages about his former boyfriend - the boyfriend that he caught in bed with another man on the same night he got fired from his job proofreading in a law firm.
Needless to say, Iris and Ken were cosmically destined to be friends. What follows is a strikingly original comedy of (occasionally bad) manners as Ken enlists Iris to infiltrate his ex-boyfriend’s life in the hope of discovering that he’s miserable. And Iris reciprocates, dispatching Ken to work himself into the confidence of her own boyfriend who she suspects, is starting to stray. But what if Ken's ex isn’t crying himself to sleep? What if he’s not the amoral fiend Ken wants to believe he is? And what should Iris do when her worst suspicions start to come true? Exactly how perfect do we have the right to expect our fellow human beings to be?
Anger, betrayal, loyalty, and friendship - Design Flaws of the Human Condition explores these universal themes with wisdom, compassion, and a wickedly irreverent sense of humor.
And did we mention Paul is single?
The current issue of Out magazine had this to say:
“Debut novelist Schmidtberger’s take is very funny, and his hilarious observations about contemporary urban life, from its escapable therapy-speak to the damage done to the skyline by Donald Trump, play well alongside this ultimately sentimental story about the virtues of friendship. ... Schmidtberger’s wryly wrought characters lend authenticity to this confection of a summer novel.”
Doesn’t it sound like just the sort of thing to get you through the dog days of summer (or the rainy days of summer if you’re on the East Coast) and boring patches of Top Chef?
So get thee to Paul’s website, and to Amazon or Barnes & Noble or your local book emporium and get thee a copy. And write to Paul and let him know how much you liked it, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll explain about Jean-Paul Gaultier.
And now, as an amuse-bouche from Amuse-Biatch, to whet your appetite, here is the first page of the novel:
PROLOGUE. In Which the Peace and Tranquility of Manhattan Are Disturbed by an Unusual Meteorological Phenomenon.
Helvetica Carlyle, née Fahrtstaller, had never gotten a cab that quickly in her entire life, and Helvetica Carlyle, it has to be said, was an extremely demanding woman.
Was being the operative word.
At thirty-two feet per second, it took only about 3.8 seconds for her body to plunge from the seventeenth floor of her Park Avenue co-op down onto - or more precisely, through - the roof of the taxi that had just pulled up to the awning outside the building. The cab driver, one of three Bangladeshi brothers who shared a single studio apartment, a single driver’s license, and a single counterfeit green card, panicked and clawed his way out of the car, leaving the passengers, a well-dressed elderly couple, sitting face-to-face with the corpse. They exchanged a long look before the wife finally sighed, leaned forward, bent back what remained of one of Helvetica’s ears and peered behind it.
“Oh, that lying little such and such,” she said. “She did have work done.”
"...And they make me look really huge on the show. I mean, I get it, I'm a tall guy. But I'm always standing next to Hung or Howie, the shortist [sic]people in the room. It made me completely reassess how I see myself."
CJ also tells Lesley that Howie Kleinberg might have been fired, discusses Hung Huynh's "assness" (we continue to marvel at what a linguistic treasure CJ is), and notes that Hung, who said some bitchy things about CJ, could simultaneously be "a dick" and "an ass," which led Miss XaXa to wonder, "Is that an elegant way of saying Hung can go fuck himself?"
Indeed, we had begun to imagine a culinary version of that ghastly short story we were made to read in high school, "The Man Without a Country," starring Fauxmicah as a woman who loathes and repudiates American country foods, only to end her days aboard a brig begging for tater tots. Our tentative title? "The Woman Without a Country Fried Steak."
Fortunately, no such fate awaits Fauxmicah. As TVGuide.com informs us, Fauxmicah has recanted. During the episode where she was eliminated, Fauxmicah is heard saying, “I’m from South Africa. I’ve never eaten fried chicken. It’s just not something that interests me in the slightest. My reaction to American comfort food? Ugh!” However, as we will learn on tonight's "very special episode" of "Watch What Happens When We Can't Get Our Act Together and Need to Recycle Material":
Feisty Micah doesn't hate Americans — but she did hate the show by the third episode.
"I've lived in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Spain, Italy, South America and throughout the Caribbean," she explained. "It comes across like I hate American cuisine, and I don't; I love it. But by the time [I was eliminated], you could have put anything in front of me and I probably would have just gone, ‘Ugh, fabulous.'"
Hmmm, that makes a lot of sense.
In other news, two readers have left comments stating that they were classmates of Fauxmicah's at the University of Miami, where Fauxmicah was in a sorority (!!!).
Ah, yes, ugh fabulous indeed.
At any rate, possums, if you have yearbook pics, especially of Fauxmicah "wearing her sorority letters," you know where to send them.
Another fan of frying and refrying is can-do-no-wrong Season 1 contestant and culinary producer Lee Anne Wong. Which is why weren't surprised to read in the New York Daily News that producers of No Reservations, the refried remake of German movie Mostly Martha, "called in 'Top Chef' Lee Anne Wong of the French Culinary Institute to give kiddie cooking lessons to Abigail Breslin for her role."
Naturally we're curious about the film, in which Catherine Zeta-Jones, that well-known lover of extremely well-aged beef, plays an angry and paradoxically frigid chef calmed down and pan-fired, as it were, by a tall blond Mormon with an epically dimpled chin and an unbespectacled and skinny Little Miss Sunshine. Unlike chefs such as Patricia Yeo, poster boy for authenticity, Ilan Hall, has proclaimed the kitchen scenes "pretty realistic."
The German original, though no masterpiece, wasn't just a vaguely, bravely dour and formulaic chick-flick for the heaving, ennobled, NPR-beating bosom of the art house crowd. Rather, it was European Union propaganda, a Brussels wet dream about how the authentic and passionate Italians can show uptight, repressed Germans that all Arbeit and no nookie makes Jürgen a very dull boy. It was a story about the triumph of Andrea Boccelli and sundried tomatoes, and why Tuscany is overrun with Beemers. It was a story about North and South, a trope going back at the very least to Goethe's "Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn," and which doesn't translate as well to America, unless you count the Reese Witherspoon vehicle Sweet Home Alabama.
Being shallow and reprehensible, however, we were most curious about, and indignant on behalf of, Oscar-nominated child actress Abigail Breslin. Whenever Renee Zellweger packs on the kilos and stones to play Bridget Jones, she gets praised to high anorexic heaven for looking so skinny after filming is over. However, we see no such praise of little Miss Breslin for dropping that Little Miss Sunshine potbelly and double chin. If Dakota Fanning had gained and lost weight for a role, we'd never hear the end of it. Where's the love for Abigail's lost love handles?
BruNina's one-star review of Harold's restaurant, Perilla, is studded with bits of critical gristle, backhand-compliment adjectives that make clear the critic's displeasure: "agreeable," "soothing," "unassuming," "undemanding," "primness," "more like the dutiful flourishes of a studiously conscientious tradesman than the inspirations of an artist letting his imagination roam" (ouch!), "retiring," "vapid," "cautious," "focus group," and "safe[...] path."
BruNina laments that "[Harold's] packed restaurant is a result of his fame on the small screen. That’s reality television for you — it scrambles cause and effect, defying the laws of celebrity physics." Further, though on two occasions at Perilla, BruNina caught sight of famous chefs Wylie Dufresne and Marco Canora, "On neither of those occasions did [he] lay eyes on Harold Dieterle....And this dichotomy — the conspicuous presence of his curious peers, the behind-the-curtain invisibility of the man himself — says a lot about Perilla’s odd genesis and how he has responded to it."
Which made us think that Frank Bruni is one of those Gays who didn't much care for the ending of The Wizard of Oz.
Persnickety BruNina also brings up Harold's "reluctance to hold court in his restaurant, as other chefs do in theirs," which prompted Miss XaXa to ask, "Doesn't it sound like BruNina just wanted Harold's autograph?"
Oh, Harold, to think that a signed napkin or 8 x 10 might have gotten you that extra star.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Frank Bruni, the notoriously prolix and toothsomely purple prose stylist who serves as the feared restaurant critic for the New York Times, will reveal tonight (in tomorrow's edition of the paper) just what he thinks of Perilla.
Since Bruni, gaypo di gaypi of the Gay & Foodie Mafias, can make or break a restaurant with a madcap, stylistically belabored critique, such reviews are anticipated and feared in equal measure. Eater is betting that the West Babylon, Long Island, top chef will get his coveted two stars from Bruni.
Alas, tomorrow night's special, momentum-interrupting, give-us-another-week-to-tweak-and-pump-up-the-remaining-episodes edition of "Watch What Happens," hosted by Raggaydy Andy, will not be live, and so we won't get to see Harold glowing or scowling (at least not about the review).
Newsday, the Long Island, New York, newspaper that employs Ilan Hall's mother, has a little civic-pride theory: In order to win Top Chef, you have to be from Long Island.
Or, perhaps more defensibly, Long Island is the cradle of top chefs, as opposed to suburban ennui, caricatured accents, Rosie O'Donnell, and higher incidences of cancer.
The newspaper notes that Long Island is "two-for-two" as regards Top Chef wins, "what with Harold Dieterle of West Babylon and Ilan Hall of Great Neck" having taken the title in the first and second seasons, respectively (and don't they sound like knights?).
Those Long Island towns certainly seem to have great names, so we were a tad disappointed when informed that Joey Paulino--who, by Newsday's logic, should rightfully be the next Top Chef winner--hails not from the hamlet of No Neck, but, rather, from some place called Franklin Square.
We suppose, then, that it doesn't look good for Hung Huynh of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where, aptly enough, Moby-Dick was written.
Rather, our musings are sparked by the sad news that 33-year-old, Chicago-based culinary wunderkind Grant Achatz, of Alinea Restaurant (named best in the nation by Gourmet), and a hero to many a chef and cheftestant (including, natürlich, Marcel Vigneron), has been diagnosed with "an 'advanced stage' of squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth -- a type of head and neck cancer." For a chef to get carcinoma of the mouth seems a cruel joke indeed on the part of the gods. And doctors say that head and neck cancer is quite rare, so even in illness, Chef Achatz is extraordinary.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chef Achatz "will likely begin aggressive treatment within the next few weeks," and we wish him well.
It was Chef Achatz, together with Homaro Cantu, Charlie Trotter and others, who is responsible for Chicago's new-found fame as a culinary hot spot, which in turn led to Bravo's decision to film the fourth season of Top Chef in the City of Big Shoulders and Big Bellies (which we say affectionately, having a soft spot for Chicagoans).
Following its tradition of getting renowned local chefs involved in the show, no doubt Bravo would have tried to get Chef Achatz as a guest judge. We hope Bravo does just that, and that Chef Achatz is well enough to participate.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Sure, possums, both these men are red, gruff, overweight, temperamental, insecure, and possessed of regional accents and farcically outmoded notions of masculinity, but if you look closely, there are differences: one is slightly taller and has hair.
These are small details, but they are important, as cheftestant Howie Kleinberg will tell you. He has courageously broken his silence to discuss his painful struggle with a problem that has beset philosophers, Prague-based Jewish novelists, drag queens, science fiction visionaries and gay couples alike: nothing less than the nature of existence. As the bastard love child of Carrie Bradshaw and Jean-Paul Sartre might have put it, Who are we (in fact, are we?) when others can't tell us apart? Or, why do gay couples in long-term relationships always end up looking like twins?
As Howie told the folks at mediaVillage.com, it was thanks to Casey Thompson that his "relationship [with Joey Paulino] ... moved on to a level where we got the BS out of the way." However, "[a]bsolutely Joey and I butt heads,...because we have a lot in common... But we are not the same person." (emphasis added).
And why would it be necessary to stress this? Well, because "many of the contestants would actually confuse the two [Joey and Howie] when talking about one of them."
Take a moment, possums, to ponder the import of this. If people who lived with you for several weeks can't tell you apart from your vociferous Doppelgänger, what hope is there for you? When things have reached that point, when your life has turned into a paella whipped up by Philip K. Dick and Andrew Sullivan, it's time to abandon the leather bars and beer busts, and move to the suburbs with a pair of chocolate Labs, therein to restore a crumbling Victorian and hold barbecues for the other sets of burly twins.
Amuse-Biatch Heterosexual Monday: Padma Lakshmi Alive and Well and Guest-Starring on "Dame Chocolate"
Or so it would appear from this Greg Kadel photograph in GQ, which illustrates an article in which, according to the subhead, Padma discusses "why being stripped naked and covered in chocolate has always been her fantasy."
Of course, it turns out to be the usual GQ choc-teasing, and no such details are forthcoming.
And while she may not be guest-starring on Dame Chocolate after all, she certainly has been living a little telenovela of her own. Indeed, possums, we were quite worried about the Lady Rushdie after her Bravo blog posted this message:
"Due to personal reasons, I will be taking some time off from my blog. I want to thank all of you who have left messages of support for me."
We, more than anyone, know just how difficult and taxing (right hand on forehead, left hand on breast) blogging can be. We envisioned her sitting at home, fetchingly ensconced in a fainting couch, her hair picturesquely disarrayed on the antimacassar, one hand clutching a balled cambric handkerchief scented with orange-blossom water, the other hand gripping a spoon newly emerged from a container of Chubby Soon-to-Be Ex-Hubby ice cream, as she bemoaned the end of her marriage to Sir Salman Rushdie.
Naturally, then, we were pleased to read that whatever personal reasons are keeping Lady Rushdie from her electronic goose-quill pen haven't completely incapacitated her. To wit, this mention in The Hollywood Reporter:
"Padma Lakshmi, co-host of the popular Bravo reality series "Top Chef," was at the gym when a friend called to tell her about the show's two nominations. "I was lifting dumbbells when my friend Christina called. She said: 'You're going to need a dress. You're going to the Emmys.' " The nominations came just in time, Lakshmi said, and hopefully will give the top-rated show an added boost as they prepare to shoot the finale in Aspen, Colo. "It's a nice thing to happen right now," she said. "It'll give ('Top Chef') a shot in the arm. I'm really happy and proud to be a part of that crew." Before taping begins for the next season, which takes place in Chicago, Lakshmi is preparing for the release of her book, "Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet," in the fall and looking for an apartment in New York."
And, according to the New York Daily News, she has of late become a fast friend to, and turned up on the front burner of, 67-year-old "[b]illionaire Ted Forstmann..., whose consorts have included Elizabeth Hurley and Princess Diana...." Forstmann's company, International Management Group, "is due to announce a slate of endorsement and licensing projects for Lakshmi."
So let's see. Going to the Emmys. Consorting with a billionaire. Shopping for a luxury apartment. Yup, if we had those kinds of personal reasons, we wouldn't be blogging either. Padma may go to the gym, but she is definitely no dumb belle.
Friday, July 20, 2007
I totally accommodate other people. And I'm definitely a team player. He loved my first dish, he said it was flawless.
Ah, how short-lived is flawlessness....
The second edition of Bourdain's guest-blog (since Tom Colicchio is out here in Los Angeles opening his restaurant, Craft, about which Eater LA also has a lot to say), contains some choice words for Hung. To wit:
"A realistic assessment of the situation is exactly what Howie [Kleinberg]’s good at--and what talented but increasingly delusional Hung seems utterly incapable of. When a pastry chef of MANY more years experience practicing their trade than you’ve got out of diapers tells you your chocolate mousse is crap? It’s crap. When you’ve got to resort to the transparently desperate measure of lining your saggy-ass wedge of chocolate tart with strawberry slices (to keep it from leaking all over the table like baby puke)? It doesn’t MATTER if you think “the flavors are there”. “Flavor” counts for very little in a competition for “Top Chef” if your dish looks like something you’d find circling the bowl after a whiskey binge. Hung’s look of utter incredulity and contempt when being advised of his deficiencies, his seeming total inability to receive or accept or understand criticism is dismaying. It seems almost…pathological."
Delusional? Pathological? Sounds flawless to us. Maybe we do have a great Gay Villain on our hands. Is it time to bring out the white Angora cat for him to stroke?
"[H]e seems incapable of the economy of movement that all professionals learn EARLY, and which even Martha Stewart has in spades. And when the majority of your Latino guests, all the judges, and Tom Colicchio in particular agree that your RICE blows? That’s not anybody’s 'personal opinion'. It’s a fact."
The Angora cat definitely says, "Meow!"
We had barely recovered our gastrointestinal equilibrium after Joey Pickle's statement on Wednesday's episode that his Quickfire dish was like "an orgasm in your mouth" when we came across an article on Fauxmicah in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Discussing her "Tuscan Sushi Revisited," the oh-so-pretentiously-named-that-our-intestinal-cilia-wince-at-the-mere-suggestion-of-Frances-Mayes dish Fauxmicah made for the first Quickfire Challenge, the article states, "It's an example of what she describes as mouth orgasm. 'It is something my clients refer to as the, 'Oh, oh my God, that's good!' reaction they have when they eat my food,' she says."
Well, there goes our gastrointestinal equilibrium again.
His attempts at cattiness are so rarely successful that we were genuinely thrilled when we read the interview that the intrepid Lesley of Eater LA conducted with Hung, in which the Lilliputz took on the Jowly Green Giant himself, CJ Jacobson:
When we talked to CJ, without naming names he said the most difficult personality to deal with was "the one-dimensional, self-centered person who didn't have a life outside of food."
It's not my hobby, it's my life. That's why he doesn't have a job right now. This is my job. This is what I enjoy doing. He can't hack it in the real world.
Well done, Lilliputz! Meow! Especially considering that the unemployed, 6'8" former volleyball player could easily pick you up and punt you over the net.
In other examples of serviceable cattiness, Lilliputz called guest judge Maria Frumkin "a loser. Who is she, a replacement? A fill in?", dubbed Joey Pickles the real asshole ("You can see in his eyes that it's real negative energy. "), and more or less called Marcel a coward.
Gong Li would be proud, possum. We are just left with one lingering doubt: should it be "Lilliputz" or "Huynhnm"?
Thursday, July 19, 2007
We have been informed that Ted will be aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, on Saturday, August 11, as part of the "Crush in the City" Wine Festival.
Once aboard the old queen, Ted will "serve[...] his favorite dishes and unveil[...] what tickles his taste buds."
So get your tickets, possums, and if you do go, take a few snaps and send them our way.
Puerto Rico Mourns Murder of “National” Dish by Original Chino Latino; Not “Every Puerto Rican [Makes] Lousy Chicken,” Sings Governor Acevedo Vilá
And we mean P.R. as in the good ole Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, self-proclaimed Isle of Enchantment, “island of tropical breezes” where “always the pineapples [are] growing” and “the coffee blossoms blowing,” and “the sunlight streaming,” and “the natives steaming.”
And after last night’s episode of Top Chef, the Puerto Rican people have something else to get them steamed. As one eyewitness said on the show, “He killed it, he killed it!”
By “he,” she meant Hung “Más Puerto Rican Than Thou” Huynh, and by “it,” she meant arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), more or less the “national” dish of Puerto Rico (we use scare quotes because the boricuas are particularly touchy about the political status of their island “estado libre asociado,” and we haven’t the energy or the death-wish at present to tackle the question of whether you must be a nation before you can have a national dish).
We learnt last night that Hung lived in Puerto Rico for a few years (who knew?) and that he spoke Spanish “somewhat” (and, in truth, his Spanish is almost better than his English, and he sounds much less of an asshole in Spanish).
It seemed perfectly logical to him, then, for the Elimination Challenge to cook arroz con pollo as his Latin dish to feed the crew of Dame Chocolate, the latest of Telemundo’s hodgepodge telenovelas (because, God knows, the crew of a telenovela must of necessity eat only Latin food).
Besides, added Hung, alluding to his Asian origin, and making sweet, sweet love to the editors in charge of Bravo Foreshadowing™, “If I can’t cook rice, I should go home.”
Of course, Mr. Chino Latino couldn’t cook rice.
And when he got called out for it by the judges, he took his usual position: Hung knows better. Dammit, he even knows better than the Puerto Ricans themselves, which gave us a nice giggle (almost as good as the giggles induced by the opening credits of Dame Chocolate).
Hung, Hung, Hung.
With all his ineffectual, unworthy-of-Gong-Li snarling and sneering, he tries ever so hard to be a shark. And yet, in the end, Hung learned the hard way that “when you’re a Jet, you stay a Jet.”
Possums, say what you will (and we did) about last season's orgy of clippers, saffron, foam, pulsating homoeroticism, demonic possession, bad outfits and misdemeanor battery, it definitely made for good television.
And today, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (more art than science, really) recognized this, giving Top Chef a nod in the "Reality-Competition Program" category. Bravo is also celebrating the unfortunate and likely award cannibalization in the same category with the nod for Project Runway.
In the meantime, Raggaydy Andy is promising "Full Release Massages for everybody!" Now, that's our kind of workplace.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
It seems to us, possums, that rarely has one of Bravo's cross-promotional ideas worked out so well.
All night long, Bravo has been showing film clips and Jessica Biel's rack to promote the new flick I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, which--would you believe it?!--is being released by Universal, as in NBC Universal, corporate parent of wayward, gay corporate child Bravo. That's putting the sin in synergy.
In the film, Kevin James (finally living up to his billing as the King of Queens) and Adam Sandler play two rough-and-tumble, average-Joe firefighters who pretend to be domestic partners in order to get benefits, so right away you know this is a fairy tale, in more ways than one, because, naturally, everywhere in this great nation of ours the Gays in their domestic partnerships get more benefits than straight married couples.
And what do we have tonight? Why, it's another couple of rough-and-tumble, average-Joe guys with thick accents coming together in a loving partnership. In true telenovela fashion, Joey Pickles and Howie Kleinberg, the two characters who started out bickering, ended up sharing love over a bottle of wine.
But it's more than a marriage of regional accents for the girth & mirth set. Indeed, despite their earlier clashes and savage animal exhortations to "be a fucking man," a cri de coeur and cri de cul that Jean Genet and Andrew Sullivan would have understood all too well, Joey Pickles ("Or is it Joey Gherkins?" Miss XaXa had wondered earlier) and Howie have everything it takes to make it as a successful gay couple: versatility.
First Joey was on top, with an "orgasm in your mouth" (hey, it's ok to do that if you're domestic partners), and then Howie was on top, doing what he likes to do best: pork. If that ain't beautiful versatility, we don't know what is. As Harold Dieterle put it on his blog (and Harold knows from loud, burly gays, having roomed with Big Gay Dave during Season One): "There was huge love and a lot of man-hugging going on."
Mazel tov, you two!
And yet, having seen the episode, we can't say we missed much. We offer a little "chea" and sympathy to Camille, who, like her literary namesake, was killed by consumption--of her cake by the judges. Now we'll never have a chance to discuss her eyebrows. But we did admire how well she took the news at Judges' Table; studying with a 100-year-old Zen master will do wonders for one's composure.
As for composure, Casey "Junior Missy" Thompson threw a major hissy following the immunity curse. Darlin', those tears were moving but not really worthy of Miss Sweet Potato.
We did decide that we want to live with Dale in a pineapple under the sea, now that he is turning out, after much prayer and handwringing on our part, to be a halfway decent Gay Villain, versatile and willing to fall on a big sword. ("Pineapple upside down cock?" queries Miss XaXa. Along those lines, she has a confidential message to Hung: "Creamy goes good [sic] with sweet, but it also goes good with salty.")
But really, though we're loath to confess it, we're bored with this season. Not that we want Marcel and Ilan back, but surely there's a happy medium between misdemeanor assault and inducing narcolepsy?
At any rate, we're back and looking forward to tonight's telenovela-flavored episode. In true Telemundo style, there'd better be hair-pulling, eye-rolling, and illegitimate children.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
We have just received news that "pale-skinned African-American" and U.S. citizen at her mother's insistence Micah Edelstein will be headlining an event in Ft. Lauderdale called "A Taste of South Africa," where she will be "uniquely pair[ing]" South African wines.
If you do go, possums, take some snaps and send them our way, but don't expect ostrich meatloaf to be served.
Monday, July 09, 2007
It’s the next day, and everyone is at the Elks Lodge. Tom is doing his troop inspection, during which he learns that Camille loves “chuna.” We remain fascinated with her speech patterns, the way she speaks…so…slowly, and the way she pronounces her “t”s. We still remember how, during one Quickfire Challenge, she talked about how she loves to flavor things with “cheese,” only to realize, as she kept talking, that she meant “teas.” We’ll get to our fascination with her eyebrows in a different post.
CJ mangles yet another French word in this episode. Having set him straight on “froots de mare,” we feel compelled gently to point out that “tuile” is pronounced “tweel,” not “twill.”
Sara and her chicken à la king are joined by Howie at the oven, and we clearly hear her ask Howie to “turn it up to 300 for [her].” She returns later to find that the oven is on cool-down. Hung tells the camera that he turned the oven off after his chickens finished roasting, but he tells her that he didn’t turn anything off. It’s a fabulous, eyebrow-plucking, Gong Li move, but be careful, Hung, lest someday the chickens à la king come home to roast.
CJ confesses that he is struggling. He is having difficulty plating his dish, which repeatedly crumbles: “I know it’s not going to totally stay up; it’s not going to stay all erect.”
Of course, we chortle, as Bravo no doubt intends us to, but then we wonder whether it is right for Bravo (and us) to make erectile dysfunction jokes about a man with a Neuticle.
And Miss XaXa reminds us that there was female imagery as well: “My sauce broke” and “When I added the tuna, it leaked out all its juices.”
He greets the judges (Alfred Portale, Tom Colicchio, Ted Allen, and Padma, Lady Rushdie) thus: “Hello, chefs and Padma.” There’s something quite right and quite droll about this, everything in its place; Ted can be a chef, but Padma can’t. And then he mispronounces “tuile” again. Ted pronounces CJ’s dish “very grassy, green,” which prompts Miss XaXa to yell, her eyes atwinkle, “Of course! Jowly Green Giant, that’s what we’ll call him.”
The other chefs present their dishes, and then it’s Micah’s turn. In introducing her meatloaf, she notes, “I know Americans like to put ketchup on…” and Alfred Portale and his slender-fingered musician’s hands, crossed across his chest, are not pleased with what he terms “a little attitude.” Verdict: “It’s terrible.”
Asshat—did he think the old folks would look kindly on the retro chapeau?—presents a lobster dish, but, surprisingly, no cutesy name for it.
And we’re back at Judges’ Table, where Ted Allen describes CJ’s dish as a “big, green blob.” Ho, ho, ho, Green Giant indeed. Tom torpedoes Micah’s dish as “the meatloaf that keeps giving.”
“Like herpes,” Miss XaXa chimed in.
The two favorite dishes are Howie’s and Dale’s. Having been in the bottom, and now in the top, Miss XaXa points out, makes Dale officially versatile. Good news, Gays. Nonetheless, the dead father narrative arc wins out, and Howie is the victor of the challenge.
There are five people in the bottom this time around, Micah, Sara, CJ, Lia and Brian. Fittingly enough, with five people and CJ standing right in the center, it looks like a giant middle finger being given to the judges.
The Bravo Foreshadowing™ is justified by Asshat’s presence in the bottom five, despite having immunity, and by the dressing down Tom gives him: “You’re gonna have to start looking at meat at some point.” Asshat resists the obvious comeback, as do we. It was all fun and games and stupid hats, wasn’t it, until he was indeed in front of Colicchio. Asshat silently swears (we surmise) never again to joke in the hot tub.
The U.S. citizen who went to middle school and high school in Massachusetts and who admitted in an interview to having made turkey meat loaf for her clients pretends never to have seen meatloaf before: “They showed it to me yesterday and it was just a round of ground beef and brown gravy.”
Sara also tries the foreigner defense for not being familiar with American comfort food: “I’m from Jamaica.” Ahem. Why, then, didn’t she pick the fried chicken and macaroni cheese when she had the chance, since, as she told the Jamaica Gleaner News, “Both my grandmothers were excellent cooks. One was a very rustic cook. She was from the Turks and Caicos Islands, so she cooked macaroni and cheese and fricassee chicken and all that good stuff”? In other words, she knew how to cook mac ‘n’ cheese and all that good stuff. Indeed, as the paper points out, “[s]he started out making French toast and muffins for her family as a four-year-old.”
Portale tells CJ that his dish was “so green, so green that it was frightening.” Yup, Jowly Green Giant is definitely sticking.
Lia is chided for not doing enough, which prompts her to utter the immortal line, “I guess I didn’t really understand how complex franks and beans are.” Honey, welcome to Gender Studies 101. FTMs across the land salute you.
There’s a commercial break, and then Bravo is about to announce the results of the phone poll as to whether Joey or Howie is the better cook, but not before showing Padma spanking Tom with what looks like a wooden spoon. “Oh my,” says Miss XaXa. We’ve got it taped, but if anyone has a screencap, we’d be mighty grateful.
In the end, Fauxmicah is pykagged and, rednosed and crying, manages to stir the depths of Jamie Lee Curtis’ soul in a New York bar.
And so it goes, possums.