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Desultory Day

I've had a very desultory day. That's what comes of watching a DVD right after lunch. I was mad to see Donnie Darko. I'd intended to watch it last night, but by the time I was ready to sit down with it, Kathleen came home from her evening at the financial printer. I don't know why I had to see the movie right now. The reason may have been that I made the connection, finally, between the movie and Jake Gyllenhaal. Someone described it as a "cult favorite." Well!

I didn't get it. I was entertained by the many star turns - where has Katharine Ross been all this time? - but I couldn't begin to get involved with the advanced physics in the old-timey textbook. (It was all sort of Ninth Gate goes to the Manhattan Project.) I think I grasped a measure of suburban satire, but while the perfections of Middlesex were definitely over the top, they didn't clear it by much. If you'd like to explain Donnie Darko to me, I'll be content to hear you out. Until then, what I'll most recall about this film is not about the film at all. It's the incredible likeness of Beth Grant and Rutanya Alda (Mommie Dearest, Black Widow).

After the movie, I wasn't good for much of anything. I visited a bunch of sites and read The New Yorker. At seven, I was starving, but determined not to snack. So I made myself a nice dinner out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Chicken breast with mushrooms and cream. It was very easy to make, at least for me. Not only that, but the touch of green onion in the sauce filled the apartment with the fragrance of mushrooms and cream - onions carry other scents, I find. It was superb, and I will never look at another recipe for chicken breasts. It's great to have the cooking thing going again.

Briefly - I'll put the recipe up at Portifex when I've made it a few times - in a small casserole, you cook ("sauté" would be overstating the matter) one or two chopped green onions in a lot of foaming butter for a minute, and then toss in a few sliced mushroom caps. When the mushrooms have drunk up the fat and showered their moisture, you take a chicken breast that you have doused with lemon juice, salt and pepper and toss it in the casserole. Then you stick a buttered scrap of waxed paper onto the top of the chicken, cover the casserole, and pop it into a 400º oven for six or seven minutes. The breast is cooked if it springs to the touch. Removing the meat to a warm place, you put the casserole back onto high heat, and pour in a quarter cup of broth, a quarter cup of vermouth, and a half a cup of cream. This you boil down until it's nice and thick. Voilà. Sprinkle it with parsley for a dash of color. I'm thinking of committing a venal sin by introducing tarragon; I love tarragon, cream, mushrooms and chicken. Don't tell Julia.

Now all I have to decide is what movie to go to tomorrow. The choices are limited: Something New, which I know Kathleen wants to see, and Firewall, which nobody wants to see except fans of Harrison Ford's bizarrely extended career as an action hero. Manohla Dargis at the Times was not nice: "Mr. Ford does not look remotely comfortable in the role of the creaking action figure." My first reaction to Mr Ford's mature movies is invariably to dislike them. But I always end up buying the DVDs. I tell myself, for instance, that I bought Random Hearts because of Kristin Scott-Thomas, and that's true, but Harrison Ford is really the secret of the movie. Finding out that his wife was having an affair outrages his character after her death, but not in quite the usual way; what gets him is the fact that he missed it. He's really furious with himself, and that's something that Harrison Ford does better than anybody else.

Is Casanova already out of the theatres? It never penetrated Yorkville.


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Well that clinches it for me. I am purchasing my own copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, forthwith. My inspirations are you, and the now famous Julie/Julia project.

I've always loved Julia anyway and since meeting V. I get to hear fun Smith alum stoies about her visits back there. Which reminds me - V. keeps bugging me to ask what house your lovely wife used to reside in, if she cares to share. (Apparently this is a question all Smithees ask each other immediately after establishing their shared alma mater status).

Can you imagine what he'll be like as Indiana Jones when/if the 4th movie gets made; rumors have it that it will.

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