Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bread, Underwear, and Jodorowsky

The sun is shining right now but the clouds are mobbed by flying fat men in goggles and pillowy piles of cumulus overwhelming the wispy mares' tails that have devolved into seahorses and earthworms humping their cirrus ways across the skies. The view reminds a bit of Alejandro Jodorowsky.

I rented a documentary about his making of Frank Herbert's Dune and how the movie was only made as a storyboard book to get a studio to back it. American studios passed on the movie and David Lynch was chosen by the De Laurentiis production machine to make Dune. Jodorowsky was devastated by the choice, but the team he assembled to make his vision reality individually went on to do great things in cinema, art, and special effects. Jodorowsky's visions for his Dune were borrowed and used in many other science fiction and fantasy movies, and continue to used the seeds he planted in modern movies, like Prometheus, which is the prequel for Alien and its sequels.

I've seen worlds and beings in clouds since I was a child looking up at the sky and dancing in the rain, but the worlds I saw through Jodorowsky's eyes have also seeded my imagination. His vision of a universal consciousness connected through the creative and spiritual death of Paul Atreides lives on. Jodorowsky wanted his vision of Dune to live and, although it didn't live in the movie he wanted to create, the images and the consciousness of his Dune live on. At the end of his movie as Paul dies from Feyd Rautha's blade slicing through his throat, everyone says, "I am Paul," so that everyone becomes Paul whose blood seeds the world and spread throughout the universe. In the real world of Hollywood, Jodorowsky's movie died before being made, but the blood of that movie, his vision and his images, the blood of his Dune spread like seeds throughout the industry to become part of the science fiction landscape. Jodorowsky got what he wanted -- to change the movie business -- and he did it image by image through the artists he changed and the vision he offered Hollywood, a vision that clung to their minds and their souls to become part of them and part of the future.
 Back deck 083014

Okay, so the photo doesn't show the clouds, but the Kindle Fire was charging and the cord didn't reach that far. That is, however, a picture of the view from my chair as I write.

There will be rain again later as there was yesterday and last night. There is always rain here, at least for now, and it keeps the temperatures cooler than normal for the end of August when the dog days should be in full force. I've had to turn on the heat and sometimes use a space heater in my bedroom when the nights dip toward the 40s.

This week has been busy with unpacking more boxes and sorting things as they arrive. I still need to put together the Strathmore chairs I bought for the back deck. The plastic fold chairs were here when I moved in, as was the sun faded piece of carpet that remains on the deck. Kevin still has not come over to measure for the ramp for the back deck or to stain all the decks, which was supposed to have been done before I moved in. Well, He did go to pieces over Forrest being stolen and spirited away to Iowa, only to be returned in the dead of night and left on the doorstep when the thief's neighbors and various friends in Iowa let the thief know they were watching. It doesn't pay to steal a man's dog in this age of technology and Internet connectivity. It just doesn't.

tedwords posted a photo of Corb's underwear drawer and it is artful and creative. All the briefs and boxers are folded neatly and placed in order according to material, color, boxer, or brief. It's the underwear drawer of either a budding serial killer or someone who lines up his toiletries so the labels are easily read. Corb is an exacting kind of person with a creative streak, the kind of person that will either make a tyrant of a director or direct orderly mayhem when the end is near. I can just see him calming people and sorting them by age, height, and useful skills as they board the great ark that will take them out of harm's way, or protect them when the big deluge comes again. He's a good person to know when you're planning a party because everything will be beautiful and organized.

At any rate, here is a photo snapped this morning of my underwear drawer.

UW drawer

I have a fondness for lace and fripperies when I wear underwear. It's mostly for me. I like the feel of silk and lace.

I decided, since I already bought quite a bit of baking and cooking equipment, and had some yeast in the freezer that was about 3 years old, that it was time to see if the yeast was still good. The freezer did an excellent job of keeping the yeast dormant, but active when dissolved in liquid, even cold liquid in the manner of French bakers. I read recently that French bread is so good because the bakers do not rush the process, allowing the flavors to develop. I also wanted to try the semolina flour and a recipe from one of my cookbooks, so semolina bread must be made.

Two days ago, I made the starter. It's like making sourdough bread, but without the white sourdough bread that results. I let the starter sit for 24 hours and, yesterday afternoon before it was time for work, I began making the bread, sifting together unbleached flour, semolina, olive oil, salt, more yeast sprinkled over water, and the starter. The dough was very sticky; I still managed to knead the dough and put it in a lightly oiled bowl to rise, not for the 1-1/2 to 2 hours listed in the recipe, but for 8 hours while I worked. I chafed the dough and let it rest, after punching it down, cut it in half, made 2 rounds, and waited for the next rise while heating the oven. A few hours later, I had 2 perfectly baked rounds of semolina bread. It sounded hollow when I tapped on the bottom and it did not feel like a brick or fall apart, so I hadn't added too much flour while kneading. I could barely wait for the bread to be cool enough to try, so I tore off a hunk, slathered it with butter, and added some marmalade from one of the jars I bought in order to taste test for the perfect marmalade.

Just as a side note, Rose's orange fine cut marmalade is more orange jelly with a few hair fine slivers of orange zest rather than a real marmalade. The zest is barely there and scattered widely through a small jar and is quite unremarkable as far as jellies, and especially marmalades, are concerned. I have 4 other jars to test, but I will use this jelly because I hate wasting money and food, even if it is just barely adequate food.

semolina bread

The above is my remaining loaf beneath the book with the photo of what the bread should look like (and it does) and the Victorinox bread knife I bought that cuts through the crusty crust without damaging the tight, soft crumb inside. The knife does a marvelous job. I cannot understand how I lived without it before now.

Since I know how readers love pictures to go with the writing, I have decided to provide some of my own, taken with my Kindle Fire. I'm actually proud of the photos. Well, except for the photo of the clouds you cannot see because the light is wrong. I'll do better next time. For now,

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

You Big Ape

I'm a fan of fantasy and science fiction stories, like King Kong and Mighty Joe Young. I've seen the Fay Wray version and the Jessica Lange version and even the Jack Black version of the great Kong and the only version of Mighty Joe Young that was ever produced several times. Well, only once for the Jack Black version. As much as I enjoy Naomi Watts's work, let's face it, Jack Black was the star of that show.

One thing I find perplexing is how every time they show Kong in his native habitat, there are other monsters from the dinosaur age, but the trees and plants are the versions we see all the time. If the world in which Kong and his Triassic or Jurassic pals have been cut off from the rest of the world, the plant life would not be sufficient to sustain vegetarians of such massive size, which may also explain why Kong has lived for hundreds of years without skeletal signs of parents or a tribe of gorillas just like him. I suppose some alien visitors took all the prehistoric animals and transplanted them to their fog-shrouded island where time had moved on after injecting the animals with some immortality serum so that living forever wouldn't be a problem even though insufficient plant life to sustain them would be.

I know. I'm forgetting to suspend my disbelief and seeing things in a rational manner which is definitely not a good idea when faced with a fantasy/science fiction movie where scientific fact has been left out in order to further the story. After all, what difference does scientific fact have to do with science fiction? Pure flights of fancy should never have to face such hard realities as how the monsters got to their world forgotten by time and how they could possibly survive without sufficient food. That's a problem for mere mortals like me. And don't get me started on monster manure and what happens to all the urine they excrete. After all, no one goes to the bathroom in movies or books, at least not for anything as mundane as voiding and excretion. (That is urinating and defecating for the low information crowd.) That just muddies up the waters -- or yellows them to be more exact.

That is the main problem I have with hidden worlds cut off from the flow of time that happens everywhere else on this planet. The plant life does not get cut off as well. The plants get smaller and yet the dinosaurs and big apes keep getting bigger. I suppose the plants could supply more nutrition than their gigantic ancestors did to support such a diverse population of monsters, but there still should be evidence of the monsters' forebears to make it easier to swallow that the current crop came from somewhere other than some source of deus ex machina or aliens with a natural habitat-zoo fetish. I doubt gods or aliens work in quite that way.

One thing we now know is that even the vegetarian dinosaurs were likely mammals as the meat eaters certainly were. So much for the terrible lizards since they were all hot blooded. Natural selection, destruction by comet, and the usual sources that killed off the dinosaurs as did dwindling food supplies as the Earth cooled and the greenhouse effect that nourished giant plants and trees gave way to a much cooler environment north and south of the equator. For all we know, the Earth's axial tilt could also have changed. All we have left are the birds, which are the evolutionary cousins of dinosaurs, which by the way, showed evidence of feathers in fossil form. Hard to imagine a chicken or an ostrich coming from dinosaurs, but that is what happened. I wonder why the adaptation for hollow bones came about, other than to make sure the birds could fly. Dinosaur bones were certainly not hollow and were much heavier to support the massive weight of their flesh -- even when they held their tails up and didn't drag them on the ground as scientists once thought. How far we have come in our understanding of the ancient world, even if in the modern world we still can't get the habitats right, or at least right enough for movies like King Kong and The Land That Time Forgot, among other lost world books and movies.

Yes, I still can't shake the part of me that insists on accuracy and something approaching reality. It's a flaw. I admit it.

Basically, the story of King Kong and Mighty Joe Young is the story of Beauty and the Beast. Instead of the fairy tale version where Beauty saves the beast because she realizes she loves him and has treated him badly, Beauty is the reason the Beast dies. His love for his diminutive blonde mate signals his end of life. As Jack said in the 1976 version starring a fresh-faced, scantily clad Jessica Lange, when Charles Grodin took Kong from his hidden island, he took the mystery, terror, and magic from the people who worshiped and sacrificed their virgins to their god. Modern man destroyed their religion and their god. I agree with Jack, but I still wonder how a black race of people got the idea that a blonde virgin would satisfy their god when they had likely never seen a blonde woman -- or a white one -- even though their rituals prominently featured blonde, white skinned virgins. I guess there is some genetic memory of goddesses with white skin and blonde hair even among a people lost from the natural flow of time, but that touches too closely on the theory that the people that created the black races (or brought them from the Pleiades as slaves) were white skinned and likely blonde. Seems to me the fossil records from the American shores show giants with red hair, and then there are those red-haired, fair-skinned giants of legend among the Asian people in Outer Mongolia. Now we're getting back to facts and reality and that is no good for fantasy. Best stick to the story and not think too much or use the dormant side of the human brain. Such mental exercises might increase the use of that 10% and edge into Einstein territory.

Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy the evolving special effects and men in gorilla suits, and eventually the computerized special effects of the King Kong of 2005, not to mention the acting styles of the Beauty that fascinates and brings down the only living specimen of a giant gorilla as much as the next person. I love to be entertained, and all versions are entertaining in their own special way, even if Jack Black outshines Naomi Watts in the 2005 version despite Miss Watts's considerable acting abilities. I guess I'll have to be content with the fantasy and the blonde beauties as they turn a fond eyes toward the monster that first terrified them and eventually brought them to tears.

It was different for Might Joe Young since he was brought up by  white family in Africa and, through love and nurturing, and one would expect a massive quantity of fruits and vegetables, the little gorilla became a giant among gorillas and as protective of Jill Young (played by Terry Moore in the 1949 version and Charlize Theron in the 1998 Disney version) as Kong was of his aspiring starlets. The Disney version of Mighty Joe Young edited out the heart of the 1949 version in favor of a less obvious morality play and more schmaltz and pretty vistas. I don't have as clear a picture of the 1998 version as I do of the 1949 version. The earlier version remains as clear as the first time I saw it on late night TV. It often seems like harsh realities and the clear black and white of earlier days has given way to technology and a movie that tests well with audiences that are not favorably disposed toward the real grit and dirt of getting down to the nitty gritty. Such is life and, one supposes, and the art of story telling in the 20th and 21st centuries.

I am in the minority with my insistence on facts and reality, but then I have no problem with talking (and singing) chipmunks and anthropomorphized ducks, dogs, mice, and various other animals. Go figure.

That is all. Disperse.