Reenie’s I’m Drunk In My House Disco Fries and Chocolate Milkshake

If you’re anything like me, social distancing has lead to a couple of nights where you drank too much and you had to throw together drunk food because the places you get it from are closed. Hence, I had to teach myself my favorite late night diner food:

DISCO FRIES

IMG_1922

Disco Fries are on any half decent tri-state area diner menu. They are the Jersey approximation of Poutine, French Fries, drenched in gravy and topped with mozzarella cheese. (Proper poutine is steak fries and cheese curds)

I started eating Disco Fries before I even started drinking when I was 15. (I didn’t really start party drinking beyond a snuck beer with my cousins until I was 17).

ANYWAY it wasn’t until alcohol that I learned how good they are with a chocolate milkshake, hence this relationship.

Fries

I don’t make my own french fries because I’m not insane, also this recipe was meant for when I’m drunk alone in my house, so frying is a no-no. I keep frozen fries in my freezer AT ALL TIMES.

I toss them in oil (Olive or Vegetable, whatever you’ve got around) and black pepper and kosher salt. Then I stick them in a toaster oven for 45 minutes. About 1 table spoon of oil and two shakes of salt per cup of fries will do you.

Cheese

Much like the fries, I have store brand shredded mozzarella in my freezer at all times (also taco cheese). Use as much as you’d like for this recipe, I use about a quarter cup. 

Gravy

The real key. 

Do you keep stock or broth in your pantry? If you don’t this whole recipe will do you no good. I keep beef stock, chicken broth and veggie broth around all the time. If you don’t, and you do keep bouillon around you can take another few minutes to MAKE some broth. The point is, you need about 2/3 a cup of stock or broth, and then 1.5 Tablespoons of flour.

Bring the stock or broth to a boil, then add the flour and whisk until it thickens.

Combine

Once the fries are brown, transfer them to an oven safe bowl. Pour the gravy over the fries and then add the cheese on top. Set the toaster oven to broil, and then stick the bowl in for 5 minutes. 

Chocolate Shake

Do you not know how to make a shake? Two scoops of ice cream, a quarter cup of whatever milk, into a blender and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a chocolate based ice cream, add either syrup or cocoa powder and you get chocolate. Or do whatever flavor you want. I’m not your mom.

Story

There’s no specific story here. If I’m out with friends and we hit a diner, this is what I order. I got drunk at home and am feeling sad and hungry a couple of times so I figured out how to make it. If you want to REALLY replicate the experience you require an older Greek man winking at you as you order and at least one friend who is belligerently drunk and arguing with you about something pointless. (Or if you’re alone in your house, just put Legends of Tomorrow on, it mirrors that dynamic. It is the diner food of Superhero TV) (Also I might sometimes be that friend. I will neither confirm nor deny)

Happy Fourth of July everyone. Our founders set some lofty principles for us to live up to that they themselves did not even live up to. Let’s do better and get closer. Sign a petition, join a protest, donate to an anti racist charity today! 

The Series Series: The Bone Witch Trilogy by Rin Chupeco

We aren’t supposed to judge books by their covers but the cover of The Bone Witch looks like THIS:

The Bone Witch

So…yeah. That’s that.

The Books

The Bone Witch

The Heart Forger

The Shadowglass

The Author

Rin Chupeco began her career as a technical writer who was obsessed with horror and fairytales and now blends them together.

I will be reading everything she’s every written, because I loved this series. Did I give away the end of this blog? Seriously though, this was a delight.

Series Structure

This is a trilogy, three books that tell the story of Tea Pahlahvi, a Bone Witch or Dark Asha, magic users who’s role in society feels like something in between university professors and geisha, in the society of 8 kingdoms in the book. Tea’s power allows her to raise the dead as well as commune and subdue legendary creatures known as daeva that often threaten her world.

The story alternates between Tea’s telling her own story and a bard (who is more than he seems) who she has engaged to tell it for you. Tea has done terrible things and she is ready to reshape the world, if she has the strength to do it.

Themes

Oh there’s a lot at work here, responsibility, accountability, civil inequality, the redeeming properties of true love (and all true love, not just romantic.)

Favorite Book

It’s probably The Heartforger although The Shadow Glass grew on me as it went along. But I devoured The Heartforger which answered a lot of questions and mysteries from the first book and did actually have me thinking that we were watching the birth of a supervillain. (We weren’t, but in the interest of spoilers, I won’t elaborate)

Least Favorite Book

The Bone Witch was lovely and sucked me into the world, but Chupeco has a lot of world building and character introduction to do. This is where the two timelines and narrators came into play as important. I wanted to know how Tea got to where she was in the flash forward sections, so I was willing to get through, “This is how I found out about my powers, this was my training” even when I wasn’t overly invested

Favorite Character

There are, alas, not direct pop culture paralells this time around for me to default into love, but I was deeply fond of Tea’s great True Love, Kalen. He’s a stalwart captain of the guard type…he uh, reminds me of someone…a little…can’t put my finger on it…anyway.

Reread Possibilities

I don’t know that I’ll reread this, but I’m not opposed to it. I very much enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to Chupeco’s other work, but I don’t know that I’d pick up this series again.

Our next series will be Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, I’m already halfway through it. Waiting on Book 5.

She Used To Be Mine

Last night I was curled up on the couch reading Maybe You Should See Someone by Lori Gotlieb (I’m not going to review the book, but OMG READ IT! So good!) eating a salad and I got caught up on my podcasts for the week.

I had a few thoughts, I could get myself set up with CBS All Access and watch Picard something I’d been looking forward to all week. Or I could throw some music on, and hold to my, “trying to watch less TV” plan which I’d failed miserably at this week. (I watched so much TNG in prep!) So instead I flipped on my phone to music and scanned, looking for a radio station or playlist.

And then I remembered I hadn’t listened to Kristin Chenoweth’s For The Girls an album she released in the summer. (I had listened to the duet version of “I Will Always Love You” with Dolly Parton from the album, because HELLO????) I searched her name and clicked it on. The book is about therapy and the ways we change and don’t. And I realized while a lot of writers I know did big “Decade Wrap Ups” and I didn’t.

At the time I didn’t have the bandwith but then I started thinking about the girl I was in 2010, and the woman I am now. I’m proud of who I am and the life I’ve built, but there are days when I miss her. The girl who never could have waited six months to listen to an album where her favorite soprano sings songs written by women.  Who would have talked about what the decade behind had meant to her.

But then I remembered how afraid she was. Of everything. Of her talent and ideas and interests, her body, her sexuality, her illness.

And then I’m so grateful for the past ten years. For finishing school and my time in Brooklyn and Tom Foolery and The Plaza and Comic Con and The Desk Jobs and Disney World and Marina and Montclair and Therapy and Meds and Yoga. And I’m grateful to myself, for realizing who I am rules. That I’m fun, that saying “I’m not feeling up to it” will not make the people I care about abandon me or hate me, that I can bond with people even when our superficial stuff isn’t the same. That you can outgrow people while still wishing them well, while others will grow with you and both things are beautiful and normal.

I also want to hug that girl, I want to tell her it isn’t going to look how she thinks but it’s still going to be wonderful. That she won’t have the wedding, house or kids she wanted (yet) but she’ll have dancing until dawn with the people she loves and a space that’s just hers and a wall full of smiling snapshots.

It’s been a nice ten years, is my point, and I’m happy to have grown up.

It’ll Be Important If You Write It

I am not to be trusted when it comes to stories that I love and criticism, and I more than love Little Women. 

Little Women is my favorite book ever. Little Women is me in so many ways, it’s shaped the way I think, the way I feel, the way I interpret stories and especially how I feel about adapting stories I love. (But we’ll talk about that later in the week)

Greta Gerwig is a talented writer and director and she’s found a great collaborator in Saorise Ronan. This Little Women feels vital and new and yet stays faithful to it’s source. The March sisters are rowdy, loving and full of life, Laurie Laurence feels of them and apart from them at the same time. They learn, they grow, they love, they lose. I wept through most of the film, but that’s not a surprise. Timothee Chalamet is the Laurie I’ve always wanted, both dreamy and dorky, brooding and awkward. Ronan is born for Jo, Emma Watson is charming as Meg (Meg is the least challenging of the girls, really) and Eliza Scanlan is heartbreaking as Beth. But this is a version of Little Women that belongs to Amy March in many ways and Florence Pugh runs away with the flick. Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk and others aquit themselves well.

Rankings

  1. Knive’s Out
  2. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  3. Jo Jo Rabbit
  4. Frozen 2
  5. Little Women
  6. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  7. Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker
  8. Avengers: Endgame
  9. Rocketman
  10. Detective Pikachu
  11. Zombieland: Double Tap
  12. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  13. Downton Abbey
  14. Joker

Trailers

I Still Believe: I’ve been listening to the podcast Good Christian Fun, and I really can’t wait for them to review this movie, but I’m not going to see it. KJ Appa’s natural hair is disconcerting.

Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge on The Run: Is this the fourth or fifth Spongebob movie?

Respect: 2 OSCARS FOR JENNIFER! Let’s do it!

Ghostsbusters: Afterlife: Did we not just go through two weeks of gnashing of teeth at unnecessary grandpa connections? DO I CARE ABOUT EGON SPENGLER’S GRANDKIDS BUSTING GHOSTS? I do not.

In The Heights: This did not help…with the crying. You are going to have to mop whatever theater I am in when I see this. I am going to cry buckets.

 

60 Books In 2019 #40: Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck

If I could pick anywhere at any time to go on vacation, it would be Paris, 1925-ish, get to hang out with the Lost Generation, and drink champagne and eat in cafes and where fabulous linen dresses.

I have no illusions about who those men actually were, assholes at best and monsters at worst, which is why I wouldn’t want to live among them, just go on vacation.

Hemingway’s Girl takes place after that glittering era, about ten years later, when a nineteen year old girl named Mariella Bennett gets a job working as a maid in Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West. Mariella becomes smitten with the author, despite his marriage and a growing relationship with a far more appropriate veteran working for the EPA just north of the island.

I have a soft spot for historical fiction about the women near the “great men.” There’s a silliness to it, but a great deal of fun too, and that’s what I had with Hemingway’s Girl, Mariella is a delightful heroine, strong and willful and a little bit out of her depth. Robuck’s picture of Hemingway is bright and fun and intoxicating. It also got me looking at Air BnB’s in Key West for the winter, so we’ll see how that goes.

This wasn’t a great book, by any means, but did get me thinking I should give Ernest another shot. (I hated him in highschool, and even though I got it a lot more in college, still would rather read Fitzgerald for my bare bones prose of that era.)

Up next is City Of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert which I have been waiting all stinking summer to read and I am so so excited. (It just came in from the library last week!) 20 Books left in my challenge which I feel pretty good about at the moment.

60 Books In 2019 #30: Sounds Like Me: My Life In Song (So Far) by Sara Bareilles

Sometimes learning about an artist you love distances you from the very visceral way their work hits you. Especially with music.

This was not the case with Sara Bareilles, where learning more about her life just clarified why her music has always spoken to me. Her idyllic childhood spent playing outside with her sisters and cousins. Her obsession with musical theater. (She name checks Chess!) Choosing to change schools for high school because she can’t stand the world she’s been in. (In her case she went the opposite, from Catholic school to public school…) Her battles with depression and anxiety and her search for her voice.

It’s a book of essays, each one centered around a song Bareilles has written, which is one of the more creative ways into a celebrity memoir I’ve seen. (I’ve read a lot of them. Many by people not nearly as notable or talented as Sara Bareilles.)

But that also makes it a hard book to talk about, because the only through line is those songs, which, I was recently reminded of the quote that, “talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” It’s really hard to describe how hard I cried the first time I heard “Many The Miles,” or “Vegas,” or God bless the woman, “She Used To Be Mine.” It’s this deeply cathartic feeling that I wasn’t alone, that someone not only felt the things that I was feeling, but could articulate them.

So we’re halfway there you guys! I think I’m going to do this. I’ve managed to only read 2.5 books by white men! (Crisis On Infinite Earths, Heretics Of Dune and Fosse) I’ve opened myself up to a genre I’d always slighted (Contemporary YA) and found some new writers that I like a lot.

Up next is Let The People See: The Story Of Emmett Till, by Elliot J. Gorn, because I guess the news isn’t upsetting enough these days, and I’ve decided to make myself more upset? Frankly, I’m in a bit of  a non fiction space and I haven’t read enough not by white women books in my mission. I’ve broken out of my white man thing, but I still have some work to do to branch out further.

60 Books In 2019 #29: Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

I missed reading, “The Book,” for a few years because after I stopped commuting into Manhattan but before I started writing about my reading here, I didn’t read much except for series that I was already invested in.

Where’d You Go Bernadette was the book in 2012, but it didn’t seem like something that I’d like. (I don’t know, there were no vampires in it, I guess?) I’m sorry for putting this book off because it’s a sheer delight.

Bernadette Fox is the kind of bohemian genius that gets pushed a lot in fiction. She’s utterly brilliant, completely unconventional and as an old friend puts it, due to her mental illness causing her to stop working, “a menace to society.”

Where’d You Go Bernadette? is focused through the eyes of the people around the woman herself, mainly her adoring daughter Bee.

In addition to being a traditional, crazy brilliant artist story, Where’d You Go Bernadette? has a sharp sense of humor about the city of Seattle, the tech industry and social striving. There’s also this whole thing about Antarctica.

I don’t want to talk to much about the plot, which unfolds quickly and is actually important to the impact of the book. I will note that lots of the story comes through emails and notes, which makes this technically! YES! EPISTOLARY! I love epistolary novels! You all know this, I’ve talked about it before.

Anyway, the movie of Bernadette comes out in a few months and I hope it’s good. Because this book made me so very happy. Just deeply joyful for the way writing and stories work.

Up next is Sounds Like Me by Sara Bareilles. I’ve liked Bareiles’s music since the first time I heard “Love Song,” in college. I’ve only grown to admire her more, and you know there’s the Waitress of it all. Where’

60 Books In 2019 #13: The Killing Moon By N. K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon is rich, interesting, compulsively readable, and full of the kind of things I love about fantasy fiction.

It has an interesting magic system, a Prince who is really a monster, wise and interesting women and a couple of queer dudes. I really couldn’t ask for more except that I’m so tired of new fantasy worlds right now that it took far too long to read this wonderful book.

Jemisin is a fabulous writer, even as I only had patience for ten pages here and there, I was in awe of her prose, over how propulsive and engrossing the plot was, how intriguing the main characters and mystery.

This is the first book in a series and of the three I’ve started this year, it’s the one that I’m most eager to pick up the second part of, which is saying a lot, as I also really enjoyed Throne Of Glass, as you’ll recall.

This is a short review, because the book didn’t blow me away and I took too long to read it, so I don’t have a lot of through line thoughts on it, but it’s a well written piece of fiction and I’m eager to learn more. So…yay?

Up next I take on YET ANOTHER new fantasy world, when I dive into A Wizard Of Earthsea.

RIP Luke Perry – And That Bummer Effect

I’ve made NO bones about how deeply I love a value the Primetime Teen Soap as a genre. I think it’s a wonderful, special style of storytelling that’s meant a great deal to a lot of people over the past three decades, and I think it gets undersold, because most of those people were girls when they fell in love with those shows, and as a culture we force girls to disown the things they liked as girls when they become women, while boys get “grown up” versions of their shit when they become men.

But that’s another point entirely. (And Ms. Shonda Rhimes, queen of my heart, did quite a bit to change this.)

It’s kind of impossible to overstate how important Luke Perry is to this genre, and how heartwarming and kind of sad the past few days of love outpouring for him and his work have been. While I’m immensely glad that the general cultural consensus is that Luke Perry’s performance as Dylan McKay was iconic and perfect, (Seriously, I rewatched the first few seasons last year, and he’s insanely good.) I hate that it took Perry dying for the entertainment media to get around to talking about it.

The time to talk about Luke Perry and Dylan McKay was goddamn every time there was a criticism of shows and movies aimed at teen girls having shitty love interests. It was whenever a show flailed after losing a key cast member, especially when said cast member was integral to a love polygon. “This has been done before, nearly perfectly, MODEL AFTER IT!”

And it was certainly time to talk about Luke Perry and Dylan McKay, two years ago, when Riverdale premiered and everyone who remembered him was so deeply and profoundly happy to see him again as Fred Andrews. (Honestly casting iconic teens as the parents was a masterstroke on that show’s part.) And it did start then. It’s certainly why I revisited Beverly Hills: 90210, and I’m sure it’s not a small part of why he got cast in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, the new Quentin Tarantino movie. (Also, because dude was a really good actor.) 

Anyway, I just don’t want us to sleep on other icons of this genre so that this happens again, that we forget to appreciate what they did for us while they were here. I send you light and love, James Vanderbeek & Joshua Jackson. I think you’re both quite talented and handsome. James Lafferty and Sophia Bush deserve all the goodness in the world. Don’t you dare disappear after Gotham, Ben McKenzie, we need your broody sneers! I hope Blake Lively and her beautiful perfect skinned children thrive, and Leighton Meister becomes the coolest of the cool indie girls. And especially to the cast of Beverly Hills: 90210, thank you. Seriously, it’s unfathomable that the world doesn’t give you and the show you helped form the credit it deserves. It was a wonderful, deeply special piece of our pop culture landscape, and I’m forever grateful for the way you inhabited those kids with dignity, intelligence and fun.

And Rest in Peace Luke Perry. Seriously, your work was incredible, and you will be missed. Thank you.

The First Annual Fangirl Airing Of Grievances

A very Happy Festivus to you and yours!

For the past few years, this has been a thing that I’ve wanted to do, and have always forgotten about it until it’s too late. While my best of 2018 will be coming in the next few days (hint, we’re going to be talking about The Good Place, A LOT) I thought it would be fun to whine about some of my pop culture issues from the past year, keeping with the traditions of Festivus.

giphy

The Purging Of The Defenders From Netflix

Who could have seen this one coming? OK, anyone who knows how corporate consolidation works and wasn’t blinded by “X-Men In The MCU!” and “Full Star Wars distribution rights!” as diversionary tactics probably did. But this is still a bummer. I’m behind on these shows, but they were well made and critically well received, so it definitely sucks.

Season 2 Of The Handmaid’s Tale

There is literally no reason why we needed a season 2 of this show, when season 1 was such an excellent mini series adaptation of the novel. While there was some gold in this season (Serena Joy and Bradley Whitford’s Commander realizing they’d built themselves terrible prisons. Moira trying to adjust to life in Canada after the trauma of her life as a Handmaid and at Jezebel’s) most of it shaved down and softened the bluntness of the allegory. And June’s choice to return to Gilead rather than escape was just plain awful.

Midge And Joel’s Reconciliation(ish) on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

NO! BAD AMY SHERMAN-PALLADINO! BAD! If Midge was going to have ill advised casual sex with someone before heading out on tour it should have been Lenny Bruce.

(I don’t actually think that should have happened either.)

Riverdale…just Riverdale

Back after the season premier I wrote about how I was hopeful for the new season of everyone’s favorite silly horror show dressed up as a teen soap. Instead, within three week’s I’d already dropped it and decided I’d wait until the summer to binge it. Archie in jail? Betty maybe possessed or something? Veronica doing her best Chuck Bass impression and opening up ambitious restaurant concepts? I did catch up enough to watch the big flashback episode, which was fun, if only to watch KJ Appa and Cole Sprouse channel Luke Perry and Skeet Ulrich as we remember them so perfectly. But overall, I’m just not as excited about this show as I once was. (This may be because Cheryl has been sidelined…I will neither confirm nor deny it.)

The show remains as messy as it ever was, but the messiness isn’t fun anymore.

Tahani/Eleanor Shippers

The only thing that I have to complain about in The Good Place is the way the shippers are behaving. As a terrible trash ship person myself, I understand their zealotry. (My complete denial that Rose Tico is even a character in The Last Jedi surely illustrates this.) But my GOD people, it’s been illustrated time and again that although Eleanor is attracted to Tahani, and perhaps Tahani is attracted back (we don’t have confirmation) Chidi is her actual soul mate. Also, when someone ships a different pairing from you, even for a canonically queer character (Eleanor), that doesn’t make them homophobic. Especially since Eleanor isn’t a lesbian, she’s bi (or possibly Pan…). If you want to watch a tiny sassy blonde bi-sexual woman have a fulfilling relationship with a woman who is tall, sexy and her tempermental opposite, I suggest you watch Legends Of Tomorrow, because Sara and Ava are great! In the meantime, let me enjoy watching Eleanor and Chidi fall for each other over and over again as they strive towards enlightenment and salvation.

Penny Marshall Died

I mean, she was on the older side, but still. This is sad. She was a funny, talented lady. I wish I could find where I saw it but someone suggested she’s now in heaven having a laugh and a cocktail with her friends Carrie and Nora. I find this a delightful way to remember her. Also, Big and A League Of Their Own are rad, and Hanks’s best acting work is in Big.

Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams Leaving The DCEU

THE CAST WASN’T THE PROBLEM.

That said if this, and Armie Hammer being all popular serious actor man now, convinces Warner Brothers to make a Man from UNCLE sequel, all will be forgiven.

Selina Kyle leaving Bruce Wayne At The Altar

This is some BULLSHIT right here. Not to mention the reasoning being that “if they get married, he can’t really be Batman anymore.” NOOOOPPPPPEEEE.

I wanted the mainline universe to become a place where Damian was Helena’s OLDER BROTHER. CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT PARTICULAR LEVEL OF AWESOME?

“Remake The Last Jedi,” “Solo sucks,” and the fall of Star Wars fandom

Star Wars is one of my favorite things in the world, Crystan once said, “Reenie’s obsessed with Game Of Thrones it’s her favorite thing to talk about.” I replied, “It’s not my favorite thing, it’s not Star Wars or Les Mis.” But this year, well, I didn’t like talking about Star Wars so much anymore. The sexist, racist internet bullshit overtaking my favorite conversation topic soured me on everything involved. I gave up even my cushiest and safest internet spaces, (The Mary Sue, though this wasn’t the only reason) when I found myself in a swirling argument with a man who was trying to convince me that Kathleen Kennedy deserved no credit for the successes of her producing career but did deserve to be fired for the faltering of Solo. Going so far as to claim E.T. a project that she shepherded and championed from day one, didn’t benefit from her involvement.

The Full Politicization Of My Pop Internet Spaces

I get it. I do. I hate 45 as well. Truly. But when I’m going to a pop culture space online, I’m not going to see commentary on the political process. A think piece on how a piece of work converses with the political moment, sure, but I read news sources to learn about the goings on in Washington. The blurring of the lines between politics and theater (which isn’t to say political theater, in both senses of the phrase, politicians taking advantage of humanity’s  tendency to create narrative and “theater” commenting on the political hasn’t always existed) is part of how we all got into this mess.

No Game Of Thrones

Silly me, hoping against hope, I thought we might actually see The Winds Of Winter this year to make up for the fact that we got no new episodes of Game Of Thrones but no. I’m sure Fire And Blood is quite good, though I haven’t gotten around to reading it, but man, it hurt me not having the show around this year.

That’s it! That’s what I’m annoyed about this year. What about you, fair readers? Anything in pop culture righteously piss you off?