Wednesday, January 24, 2018

three good things

Ursula K. Le Guin has died. (Not one of the three good things, to be clear.) Famous people dying always makes me ponderous and annoying like a teenager who's smoked too much pot, but for the last few years I've had this slow-building realization that what has felt like an epidemic--these titans of culture dropping like flies--is in fact just me getting older. When you're younger there's this bright line between dusty gray history and the realness of the vibrant present, and aging is in some ways watching the color drain from the world around you as pieces of it recede into the past.

For a while there I was doing a "one good thing" series, where I just talked about one good thing that had happened, but I deleted it back when someone gave me the creeps. (Comics, man!) But I thought I'd try again, make it less personal, and up the ante. So now there's three. The first good thing is Paddington 2, which I saw on Sunday. I'd heard it's good, of course, but I had no intention of seeing it because...I don't know. I thought the way they'd drawn the bear was sort of ugly. But a friend wanted to see it, and I got a MoviePass, so why not. And it was perfect? Hugh Grant is Tim Curry-level bananas and it looks like Wes Anderson without all the...Wes Anderson baggage. I love Wes Anderson, but you know what I mean. Seriously, go see Paddington 2.

The second thing is this little story about Celine Dion taking Elliott Smith under her wing before his performance at the 1998 Oscars. You know those little children's books about unlikely animal friends? I want a book like that about Celine Dion and Elliott Smith.

I'm old enough to have seen that performance in real time, and it's something I'll never forget. That suit, oh my god. Comparisons have been flying fast and furious between Smith and Sufjan Stevens (who's up for Best Song this year), and that is just so fundamentally incorrect. I mean, I get it, sonically. But Elliott Smith came up from punk, and he was one of the rawest performers I've ever seen, for both better and worse. Sufjan has a similar awkwardness I guess, but he's a very polished performer who does very stylized shows. Very, very different. Anyway I guess I could link to that Oscar performance, but I don't think watching it now begins to convey how surreal it was at the time. It was just...really something.

The third thing is this recipe for garlic rice, which is my new favorite thing.

The recipe is from Melissa Clark's new cookbook (which is for Instant Pots, in case that's not obvious), but you could adapt it to regular rice cooking pretty easily. The trick is drape a clean dishtowel over the top of the pot after you fluff the rice, replace the lid loosely, and wait for 10 mins before you eat it. That cookbook has some nice tricks.

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