July 31, 2005

I halted there in the aisle of the supermarket

....when I saw these.

Strawberries in Juice.jpg

Strawberries in Juice, Dunnes Stores, Earl Street

So wrong. So powerfully, powerfully wrong.

Posted by Diablevert at 06:52 AM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2005


Yay!: Computer is fixed.

Posted by Diablevert at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2005

It's subtle, but there's a message there


Sign over a doorway at Grogan's near Powerscourt

These are my favorite. Sorry for the blurriness. There were extenuating circumstances.

Grogan's is a pub I may have mentioned here before---it's a cozy little spot, darkly pannelled and vividly carpeted like a 70s den, whose patrons famously cannot be matched for the sheer bizarreness of their fluent porter-fuled ramblings. They have a rotating mix of art on the walls, which, much like the conversation, occasionally gleams with a streak of pure genius amid the general tumble of weirdness, and an unusual mix of old and young and in-between bellied up to the bar.

These are the signs over a doorway at the end of the bar. They say, "Exit," and "Ladies." What amuses me most, and which I could not capture with my pitiful camera phone, is that there is a doorway immediately to the left of this one with a sign over it saying "Gents" in a size and font to match exactly the sign that says "Exit."

Posted by Diablevert at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)

Woe unto me, for I am stupid.

I broke my computer being stupid. I am unhappy. (Long story short: Accidentally sent 3,000 files to the trash, went to drag them out, overloaded the desktop.) I think it's fixable, but it's such an odd problem it is hard to tell.

The internet shop I am in playing Tom Waits, though. That's nice.

Posted by Diablevert at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2005

Look up, up in the sky

Royal Liver.jpg

Royal Liver Assurance sign, O'Connell bridge and Westmoreland Street

When you think about it, how can you justify having your liver reassurred in a plebian manner in these troubled times?

Posted by Diablevert at 06:34 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2005

These ain't cockles and mussels, bub

Plums in Pram.jpg

Plums in Pram, Capel Street

Cherries in Pram.jpg

Cherries in Pram, Capel Street

Between the big open air market on Moore Street and the fresh fruit wholesaler's warehouses down by the Four Courts, you often see these women selling fruit on the street, or very occassionally little trinkets, toys for kids. (The women are not depicted because they are all tough-looking broads in their fifties, who didn't seem like they'd look kidly to having their picture taken. They could totally beat me up, dude.) They always sell them out of these big, old-fashioned prams. I can definitely see the advantages --- high center of gravity, huge storage space, highly mobile. I just wonder where the heck they get them, in this day and age. I suppose they could all be hand-me-downs --- those things are built like warhorses, made to stand ten kid's worth of wear in the first generation of use --- but some of them have to be fifty years old, at least. Some of them must break down, and not everybody would have kept theirs, and then where would you go to buy another? Because all of the fruit vendors have them. But I know by the 70s baby strollers and such like were all those collapsable canvas and alluminum models, sturdy as a beach chair in a hurricane, and in the 80s and 90s you had the heavily padded kind with the three-part safety straps and anti-lock breaks and snap-on lunch trays and a bar of dangly plastic bits, and nowadays they've got either those or the jogging kind, with the giant off-road tires and a triangular sack to sling the kid in while you race around. I asked the secretary at my old job about how they find the old-fashioned ones and she seemed to find nothing odd in it, didn't even understand the question, really. I suppose one day I'll have to get up the courage to ask them and hope they don't burn me with their fags or pelt me with fruit.

Posted by Diablevert at 06:05 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2005

He's Trying Way Too Hard to Be the Anti-Dickens

Well, since a) I'm trying to post more, and b) nothing all that interesting has happenned to me lately, but c) I have read a bunch of books, you're getting a bunch of book reviews. This one's really long and not all that coherent. More me trying to string my thoughts together on the book and getting tangled in the inevitable cat's cradle. Enjoy. Ish.


There's a scene in one of Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby books where a kindergarten teacher reads her class a classic picture book called, if I recall correctly, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. The plot of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel concerns the title characters' attempt to prove that a hoary old steam shovel is just as good as some newfangled type of shovel by digging an entire building's foundation in a day and a night. It's a heroic tale, and the whole class is enraptured by it, until one kid raises his hand and asks, "When did he go to the bathroom?" Because you know, good ol' Mike was digging all day and all night. That's a long time. The teacher tries to skip lightly over this question, but the kids just won't let it go. They are kindergartners. Going to the bathroom is a big part of their day. Any book which flinches away from the bathroom question is a text sorely lacking the gritty realism demanded by the contemporary kindergartner.

Michael Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White does not flinch away from gritty realism. It's a book set in London in the year of our lord 1875, and unlike authentic Victorian novels contemporary at the the time --- Dickens, Trollope, Thackery, the Bronte sisters --- people in Crimson Petal sweat. And shit. And piss. And fuck. So far no one's had a venereal disease, but I haven't finished it yet. [ed. note --- Finished it midway though writing the review, sorry for any confusion.] This book is groady.. It's nast, man. And in part I think, that's cool. London in 1875 was pretty groady. You had to walk through an inch of horseshit just to cross the street.

But then again, I think that while the reticence of the authentic Victorian novelist on the horseshit/bathroom question was in part due to how horribly repressed we all know (or at least think we know) the Victorians were --- calling chair legs "limbs" and covering them with a skirt anyway and so forth --- it's also a question of the quotidian. The things that always speak most authentically to us of the past are the very things that no one notices at the time because they are so ordinary. Someone writing in 1930 "there was a crowd of men on the platform," doesn't need to mention, "and they were all wearing hats and waiting for a train." Similarly, I writing now "he crossed the street," do not need to write "which was paved with asphalt and had a series of reflective white dashes painted down the middle." In both instances, these qualities are default qualities, of a modern street and of a 1930s crowd, respectively. So when Faber spends a paragraph on a guy narrowly avoiding a pile of horse shit while crossing the street, and half a chapter on him going to buy a hat, it doesn't feel like he's being authenticly of the era, it feels like's he's being terribly modern, pointing out every rank stench and vile shitpile to us like a perverse native guide delighting in shocking we slumming, lily-livered tourists.

Faber's well aware of this aspect of his prose. At the beginning of the book he indulges in a number of fourth-wall breaking asides where the narrator directly addresses the audience, informing us, for instance, that the prostitute we are about to meet, while interesting, is not the book's main character who will be along shortly, or coyly telling us to watch our steps or hold our noses. At first blush I thought this habit a rather disincongruous bit of post-modern smoke-and-mirrors (it's a text that knows it's a text! how meta!), but thinking about it now I suppose it's really no different from the license taken by real Victorian novelist's omniscient narrators ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," "Dear reader, I married him!") Either way, I found it unbearably twee. Ha-ha, yes, I'm reading a book. I'm well aware of that, so quit pointing it out and get on with the story. Fortunately, once the plot begins boiling the asides mostly fade out.

And what a story it isn't. On the one hand, for all my above bitching about the tone of the piece, I was interested enough in it to keep on plugging away for 800+ pages just to find out what happened. This ought to be bourn in mind. On the other hand, having just finished the thing I feel like a real Victorian novelist would have considered the events of Crimson Petal a rollicking opening to a novel, a really solid pin-'em-to-their-seats first third, but hardly enough for a whole book. And I tend to agree. I read the whole book wanting to find out what happened to these characters, and when I did I was not disappointed, exactly, but dissatisfied. Everything made sense, everything worked out, there was personal growth distributed to the undersized souls and comuppances all round, but the characters' eventual fates were left unresolved in a way that nagged at me.

Ah, but y'all don't even know who the characters are. Here goes: There's Sugar, a 19-year-old prostitute with a head for book learning, a bod for sin and a really nasty case of psoriasis, William Rackham, n'er-do-well heir to a mid-size perfume concern, Anges Rackham, William's wife, who unbeknownst to everyone else (and to the science of the time) has a brain tumor the size of an egg nibbling away at the soft sane center of her piddling brain, Sophie Rackham, seven-year-old daughter of the above, Henry Rackham, William's older brother, a stuffed shirt extrordinaire who'd like to become a minister if he didn't have the hots for one Emmeline Fox, a free-thinking theologian in her own line and paragon of the Rescue Society (fallen women being the ones in need of rescue). The plot is this: William falls for Sugar and takes her as his mistress. Sugar plots to worm her way as firmly into his heart and home as possible, in the process crossing paths with the steadily-losing-it Agnes, who takes her for her Guardian Angel. Eventually, Sugar does get herself set up in the Rackham home, where she forms a warm bond with the neglected Sophie; she little knows that the bumbling Henry and the well-meaning Emmeline are both traipsing close to the secret of her past. And that's about all I can tell you without ruing the denouement. Yeah, I know. Sad, isn't it? I mean, that's all set up, and frankly, the fact that I'm omitting the ending leaves room for a lot of conjectures that would be a hell of a lot more exciting than what actually occurs.

I can't tell if the people in this book feel wrong to me because they're just flat and unrealistic, or if they feel wrong because they feel out of time, modern silicon brains stuck into chickenwire and horsehair Victorian bodies. I think it might be a bit of both, perhaps. But I can't pinpoint exactly what about them makes me think this. Possibly the dialogue, but then again I can't point out obvious clunkers and anachronisms. This is not a Harlequin novel. In contrast, everything feels scrupulously well-researched. I'm sure that the subject of the boring sermons they hear whilst in church are exactly the type of things one would hear boring sermons about in 1875. But their thoughts about those sermons, and about the books they read, or various issues they debate, feel wrong. People in this book are constantly thinking to themselves about how things will be different in the next century, more like ...well, more like exactly what did happen in the next century, and I find it hard to credit that their predictions would be so frequently accurate. Or that, in 1875, they would even be thinking as much about the next century as they are; people are always wondering about the future, but when I was a kid in the 1980s --- heck, when I was in high school in the 1990s---the turn of the millennium seemed impossibly far away. I cannot but imagine that it seemed more so in 1975, and that the 20th century seemed equally distant to the people of the beginning of the last quarter of the 19th---twenty-five years, after all, is a generation. Furthermore, when Faber tries to deal with something that is peculiarly of the Victorian age--- Henry Rackham tying himself in knots because he thinks his attraction to the vivacious Ms. Fox makes him unfit to be a minister---it feels all wrong. I think it is because he seems to understand his own guilt to well; Henry is a terribly innocent character, fairly fuzzy on the details of what female genitalia actually look like. Yet his fantasies and dreams seem the very type of healthy red-blooded lust; you'd think that a guy who's never even seen the object of his desire would be a bit...well, more perverse and ignorant in is imaginings. Faber has a really nice bit where Henry gets a free peep from a bawdy streetwalker and worries that hairiness might be a physical manifestation of his spiritual degradation; the idea being that the more one give into animal lust the more ape-like one becomes, and bad news for Henry's hirsute self. This is exactly the type of muddled thinking that you'd expect a guilt-racked man in Henry's position and era to display. It feels true. Unfortunately, in all Henry's writhing it's the only moment that does, really.

I've said all this and I suppose someone reading it would think this was a terrible book. It's not. There's a lot in it that's good, starting with the extraordinary detail collected to highlight a thousands lost habits and tools and methods and customs in order to bring the era to life. And if it does veer off occasionally into Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Chamberpots and Were Afraid to Ask, well, most people, like Beverly Cleary's kindergarteners, do have a few tentative questions about the subject. And the character of Sugar, the central figure of the book, is never less the fascinating and well-evoked. I suppose my lasting criticism of it is that, for all its 800 pages, I wanted The Crimson Petal and the White to keep on going, to serve up new challenges to its characters and new facets of them to the reader. Which, when you come down to it, is more compliment than criticism.

Posted by Diablevert at 08:10 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2005


Golden-Brown Triangle.jpg

Item in a tray under heat lamps at a Spar

Hello! I am a triangle of fried.

Fried what, you say?

Oh, you.

Posted by Diablevert at 05:49 AM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2005

Just a Link

This is awesome.

Bolivian lady wrestlers in bowler hats and peasant skirts.

Posted by Diablevert at 06:47 AM | Comments (0)




I saw this one day right on Dame Street (the big street with Dublin Castle at one end and Trinity at the other) but I couldn't tell what had happened, who had died or why or when, as the ink on all the cards had been blurred by rain.

Posted by Diablevert at 05:45 AM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2005

A Non-Celebrity Interview

[Ed. Note: This post has not yet been vetted for typos or coherance. No time for love, Dr. Jones. But I must run and I wanted to get it up.]

So, basically this blog thing is a place where I come to ramble about random stuff that amuses or perplexes me, which is read by a small group of family and friends who hopefully don't think I'm too weird for having read it. It's only useful purpose it to reassure my mother that I'm alive, a purpose I could obviate if I would only call once in a while...but I digress. There are other blogs in the world, funny, interesting ones, that I like to read. One of them is Miscellaneous, Etc. and in a recent post of his he offerred up an intriguing idea, and since I'm generally starved for post ideas, I jumped in. It's a bit like a chain letter. The rules are thus:

1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying "Interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person's will be different. I'll post the questions in the comments section of this post.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

So I got my questions. I feel strangely compelled to answer them honestly, even when doing so has the potential to make me look like a tool.

1. What is your proudest moment of the last twenty-four hours? The last month? The last year?

Last twenty-four hours: The last twenty-four hours in the Diablevert household were spectacularly uneventful. Possible candidates for proudest moment include: finally washing that pile of sheets that's been hanging around for ages and drying them outside on the line instead of wasting expensive electricity. Adding a little bit of real vanilla bean to the chopped apples in the half-assed strudel thing (recipe follows) I threw together since I had a leftover sheet of puffed pastry, which lent a piquant note to the cinammony-nutmegyness of the proceedings. If there's anything I like, it's a piquant half-assed strudel. (Though you did not ask, possible candidates for most shameful moment include accidentally cutting into the bottom of the half-assed strudel when I was taking it off the cookie sheet, thus causing all the carefully sealed in syrupy goodness to leak out. Bonus fun fact: Do you know you can get high off nutmeg?[1] Choke down a couple of tablespoons and it'll make you hallucinate. Unfortunately, the nutmeg high is supposed to combine the worst aspects of brown acid and PCP and last for like, three days. Three harrowing days of howling dismembered baby heads and invisible bugs crawling under your skin. Just say no, kids.) Or possibly the proudest moment was when I finally threw together a post for my blog, which I've neglecting for a month.

Oh, wait --- this part of the question was so easy, and I didn't remember because it happened last night, and I was thinking of yesterday --- My proudest moment of the past 24 hours was when my sister emailed me to say she had seen the previews for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and it made her remember how much she had liked the book when she was little and I read it aloud to her, and so she had bought herself a copy and re-read it and was emailing to know if I thought my copies of the subsequent books in the series were still mouldering in our parent's basement. This was especially pleasing, because while my sister has an excellent memory, most of the time when she evokes a vividly etched scene of her childhood it seems to involve me and/or my brother tormenting her in some way. Pete the Pink Elephant, we hardly knew ye.

Past month: I feel a bit like an ass bringing this up, but you said proud. I just finished up a writing workshop and was chatting before the last class with the teacher and a fellow student about future plans for our writing and our lives in general. She asked me if I had considered going to school for an MFA in creative writing, and I said no and explained my reasons, and she told me that she thought that was wise, that I didn't need to go back for an MFA because I wouldn't get much out of it, I was already there. She herself had been through an MFA program and has several years' experience in teaching writing, so it was heartening to hear that as I'm kind of at a point where I'm trying to work on stuff but it's going a lot slower than I'd like and I'm not even collecting as many rejection slips as I ought to be, never mind getting published. I feel very embarrassed mentioning this.

Past year: Probably when I finished a long story, the longest I'd written up to then, which had been bouncing around in my head for years. It felt really good to have completed it. I did the last bits, three or four pages worth, in one big push, and I felt it had turned out well. That was awesome. It lasted like, three four days. Then I thought it sucked, of course.

2. What is one talent that you feel you lack, and that you wish you had?

I wish I had rhythm. I can't dance for shit. I can't do Miss Mary Mack or "Miss Lucy had a steamboat..." Hell, I can't even jump rope.

3. Were you ever bullied, and if so, do you remember who your worst bully was?

Bullied, no. I can't say I liked high school much---let's put it this way, there's no entry for me in my senior yearbook. (Ensuring that should I ever rise to fame I will have thwarted VHI's best embarrassing-photo researchers! Bwahahahaha!) But I was never anybody's personal punching bag, literally or psychologically.

4. If you could upgrade four things about your body, which would they be, in order?

Upgrade. Upgrade. Interesting word. A very guy word, I think, if you don't mind my saying so. Like a car or a hardrive or a cyborg. I think I'm over-thinking this, but upgrade makes me think of adding a component, or switching out an old part for a new and better one, and this makes this question seem more of a challenge to me than perhaps it is intended to be. There's a lot I'd like to change about myself, but I suppose in a way they always struck me as fundamental changes, things that would alter my nature rather than enhance it, so I don't know if they count. I am assuming superpowers are out? Nevertheless, here goes.

1. My metabolism. I would like to be one of those fuckers who can burn more calories sitting around pondering the infinite than the rest of us do huffing around the block. Or in other words, I would like to be able to eat like I do without being as fat as I am. Je suis Americaine, n'est-ce pas? (I feel a bit guilty about this one; if I got off my ass more, I wouldn't have to wast a genie-wish on such things).

2. My skeleton. I would like to elongate it, so that I ended up two or three inches taller, not so stocky, with fingers that weren't so stubby. Cheekbones could use a trifle more definition, too. Stretch the frame and smooth the curves and end up a little more elegant all over. In good light and the right dress I might be able to plump for voluptuous, but I don't think I could manage elegant and I'd like to.

3. My voice. I don't think my voice is all that unpleasent---I don't have Fran Drescher's nasal screech or Jennifer Tilly's bubble-headed squeak---but whenever I hear myself on tape I always sound much younger that I do in my head. Younger and ...goofier? I don't know, I can't quite describe the undesirable quality that irks me. I wish it were a bit deeper and sultrier. A touch of Lauren Bacall. Not all the way down to Kathleen Turner territory; I wouldn't wish to be able to play myself as a drag queen. Maybe that counts as a downgrade, not an upgrade? And really, when you come to think of it, that's not an unattainable goal, if I follow the Dicky Barrett route and just get cracking with the whiskey and cigarettes.

This was actually quite hard. I haven't even come up with a fourth thing that seems worth wasting a wish on. I'm not sure why this is so difficult; perhaps I feel like changing really substantial things would change me too fundamentally; I wouldn't be myself anymore and I don't want that. Like, if I unscrewed my face and changed it for Charlize Theron's or what have you, I would undubitably be more attractive. But would I be myself? I find it hard to imagine looking out from my eyes and seeing another face in the mirror and feeling like myself. Maybe that's why the things I want to change seem in some ways superficial.

5. Should more Americans go abroad, and do you think that would be good for American culture?

Hmmm. My first inclination, as usual, is to be snide. My second is to be long-winded (but if you made it this far you already knew that). Let's hope third time's the charm.

Maybe bullet points would give some form or shape to my will o' the wisp, push-pull thoughts on this matter:

*Is it not the case that the people who would want to go, who are eager to experience strange lands and foreign customs, are already the ones less likely to be parochial and xenophobic and red-blooded in their views? Because that's what the pallative is meant to cure, isn't it? American ignorance and arrogance?

*If the goal is to make Americans more coginzent of the rest of the world --- that's not exactly the way you put the question, I know, but when I think of what might possibly be better about American culture because of such exposure, this is what my mind leaps to --- I think it would be far more effective to concnetrate on improving history education especially in secondary school. Because I agree that such ignorance is a problem; it leaves you in a situation where you turn on the news and hear about the latest crisis and think, "oh, well, it's just those people at each other again," and you have no real concept of who "those people" are and what they're at each other over. I graduated from a fairly good suburban high school, and I had pretty good grades, but I think if you asked me when I was 18 to give a brief outline of world history it would have been something like "There was Greeks, and then Romans....and then some stuff happened...and then there was knights, and Protestantism, and Columbus fits in there somewhere, and then the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, um...some more stuff...maybe stuff was ...Gilded?....and factories and communism was invented and we got entangled in WWI and then flappers and then the Depression and WWII and the Cold War the end." We never got past Kennedy, I think, even in my American history classes. I had no real concept of the history of the Middle East, India, China, Russia, Africa, South America, Mexico, Canada, Central America... I could go on, and there's plenty of stuff I'm still ignorant of yet. But I think, and hopefully I don't sound like an ass, that during college and after I learned more than maybe the average person does, just because I tend to read a lot and I would get interested in stuff when I realized how gaping a hole in my knowledge of a particular area (and by area I mean like, continent) was. To take a hugely inflamatory example, how can one really form an opinion on say, the Isreali-Palestinian conflict without being able to define the word Zionism? You don't even know what they're fighting over. And that the situation I think a lot of Americans are in, that they just don't know history, and contemporary knowledge is gleaned from bleeds-it-leads-news and the propaganda of various political mouthpieces, if it is gleaned at all...Hi, I'm George Santayana, and I'll be your long-winded blogger this evening

*Plus, what kind of go abroad? The kind of go abroad that is in the avergae adult's capacity is the vacation, and I think it is perfecty possible to jaunt from the Opera House to the Eiffle Tower to Monet's garden in your air-conditioned tour bus and still have the phrase that leaps to your mind when you hear the word "French" be "cheese-eating surrender monkeys." If you mean a longer stay, to live and work in a different place, the type of thing which is in the capacity of the young...I'm still not sure, to be honest. I think the thing that is universal about going to live in another culture is the challenge of it. That certainly varies, from place to place, and according to situation---do you speak the language, etc.---and I think that's probably good for the soul for the individual involved. But good for America? I don't know. You might go back home with fond memories of the place and its people, but that doesn't necessarily extend to other places, other people. You might go and hate the other place, you might go and only be confirmed in your prejudices, or develop new ones, you might come back and be counted a weirdo for the customs you picked up elsewhere....

*Plenty of the Irish go abroad, for vacations and summer jobs and, especially in the past, as emigrants. I have not noticed that it has made them particularly more welcoming to foreigners coming here. I've met tons of Australians over here; I was chatting with an Australian fellow and mentioned to him that it seemed to me that because their continent is the ass end of nowhere from everywhere else, it's expected that young people will spend a few years travelling in their twenties because they're never going to have the time and money to do that when they're older, and he agreed with me pretty eagerly. Yet, Nauru. (Good This American Life story on Nauru here[2].)

*Lastly, you've got to ask yourself how this would affect Canada. A serious increase in the number of Americans travelling abroad would mean a concurrent increase in the number of Americans pretending to be Canadian so as not to get hassled, and with a big enough uptick in those numbers we might put a serious dent in the Canadian reputation for politeness.[3]

[1]Parents: I do not speak from personal experience.
[2] I don't mean that I think all Australians are xenophobic, and I'm sure there's more to the story than is covered in the sources I've pointed to. All I mean is that you can take a whole country in which almost all young people who have the means go out and see a fair chunk of the world, and the government of said country can still take a very stringent, katy-bar-the-door, you-don't-have-to-go-home-but-you-can't-stay-here stance toward a boatload of starving refugees.
[3] Do you even know how hard it was not to end a sentence in that paragraph with "eh?"

Half-Assed Strudle

1 Sheet puff pastry, defrosted
3 Apples --- I used under-ripe golden delicious, but granny smith or what have you would work
1/4 of a vanilla bean
1 lemon wedge
1 tsp grated cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar
2-3 tsp water
Powered sugar, if you got it.

1. Split your portion of vanilla bean down the middle to release the grainy goodness of vanilla. Put it in a cup with the water (and a chunk of cinnammon stick if you have it on had) and zap in the microwave for a minute or two to help release the vanilla flavor. In the meantime,
2. Peel, core, and finely dice your apples --- you want little chunks, a la a Mott's fruit cup.
3. Toss apple chunks in a bowl with vanilla water, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg (fresh grated tastes best. This has been a public service message from Food Snobs International). Squirt with lemon wedge to keep apples from going brown, and stir till everything's coated. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in fridge for a couple hours to marinate. You can leave the vanilla bean in while's marinating, just remember to take it out before you bake.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 (200 Celcius). Lightly grease a cookie sheet and lay the pastry on top of it.
5. Spoon your apple chunks over the pastry sheet so they make a large pile in the middle --- it's the best way to keep the syrup from running everywhere. Fold in the four corners of the sheet so that they meet in the center (bit like making a fortune teller) and pinch shut any open seams. Make a couple small slits in the top of the pastry package to release steam.
6. Pop it in the over for about 45 minutes to an hour, until golden brown.
7. Take out, let cool, put it on a plate if you're serving it to peeps, and dust with powdered sugar if you've got some. Very good served warm with a drizzle of heavy cream.

Posted by Diablevert at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2005

On the wall


Bar Mirror at The Gin Palace, Middle Abbey Street

Posted by Diablevert at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2005

A Short

Sign I've Read Too Much P.G. Wodehouse:
I'd like to have the occassion to call something dueced, but I am not sure what quality is indicated by duecedness.

Posted by Diablevert at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2005

Dude, I think I have guy brain

Don't worry, it's not a social disease. (Pause for you to fill-in the follow-up joke.)

I was just watching this BBC show about brain diffrences between men and women, and which of them are caused by hormones and so forth. Apparently, your exposure to testosterone in the womb, in addition to regulating several of the, ahem, more obvious gender distinctions, also detemines the length of your ring and index finger. One of God's freebies. (Men and women both have testorone, men just have a lot more than women.) Most women's ring and index are even steven, as they're not exposed to much of the hormone while developing, while most men have ring fingers that are signifigantly longer than their index. They did this experiment where they gave a scientist who studies this stuff photocopies of the hands of several athelets --- 5,000 meter runners. He measured the difference between their fingers with callipers and predicted thier finishing places in the race on that basis---and he was damn near perfect, except he had the third place guy coming in fourth, and vice-versa.

Well, my ring finger is way longer than my index, on both hands. Now I have to go to the website and take the test to find out if I have total guybrain or what. You'd think I'd be better at math. It does explain that competative streak. Like that time I cheated at Stratego with B by moving my flag. (I am sure B remembers this, as witnessing the iniquity of others inevitably brands his brain permantly, such is his righteousness, but I am sure that he will also recall that Mom caught and punished me at the time.)

Speaking of Mom --- Mom, yo. What up? Why you got all this testosterone floatin' around your womb? I'm the oldest, for goodness sake. Supposedly, once a woman has one boy child, that elevates the latent testorone levels for any subsequent siblings. Maybe Sull has guybrain, too. Sull! Look at your hands! I'm gonna go take the test.


Dude, just measured my fingers --- I'm a freak. My ring finger is 8 mm longer than my index on my right hand, and 5mm longer on my left, giving a ratio .88 righty and .92 lefty. Doesn't sound like much, does it? Nooo. But: Average female ratio: 1.00. Average male ratio: .96. Jesus. Get me a cage next to the bearded lady. Oh, wait.


Well, fiished the test, finally. Overall my results were pretty average, and I'm about halfway down the scale of chick-brainedness. (Wow, is that not a word.) Meh, I say, meh. On the other hand, I am apparently attracted to manly-looking men, as oppossed to girlie-boys, so that's something.


P.S. Did I tell you that on the T.V. show, they ran exaggerated versions of the online tests with a mixed group of men and women, some of them cast according to type (male investment banker, male engineer, female housewife, female manicurist) and some against (female flight test engineer, male childminder) and the this one guy --- the male engineer --- was apparently a roiling ball of testoterone. They had them race go carts at one point (tests competativeness, ya know?) and sadly for one stereotype at least, out of the ten of them none of the women finished top five. Ouch. But, more interstingly, the enginner-guy was in the lead for most of the race and then was overtaken by the investment banker (Did I mention that the investment banker had artistic sideburns? You know the kind I mean. Yeah. Anyway.) and the engineer dude lost it. Spun out three times trying to catch up. And then they showed the tests on their hormone levels and you could see his going through the roof. Then, later, they show this guy playing checkers (sorry, they were English ---- "draughts") with his son, who was like 8, and he wouldn't let the kid win. And then when the kid lost, the kid cried and he laughed at him. Dude, I was sitting there like, whoa, Cap'n Evil. Did it not occur to you that this was going to be on national TV? Man. I wouldn't want to go to the grocery store with him after that program aired. I bet he gets hissed at.

Posted by Diablevert at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)