In a post-tooth extraction/infection world, operating with ingredients on hand, the diet becomes overwhelmed by soup. Smooth soups. Good thing soup is a favorite – and easy. For a few days running, I’ve been on a semi-spicy black bean soup (a variation of this recipe) kick, but blended everything so as not to disturb the sensitive mouth. But today I had a bit of pumpkin leftover from something else, some must-use coconut milk and, most of all, hunger.
Hunger led me to the latest soup experiment, which is a take-off on my old go-to pumpkin curry soup recipe. In my updated version, I have guessed at the ratios – you can spice it to suit your own tastes, of course. I am not sure about the measurements. This is a super inexact recipe.
I added white beans to this because I wanted to thicken the soup a bit, add a bit of protein and a bit of texture. White beans don’t add much flavor, so this won’t ruin the flavor profiles of anything else you have going on.
New, improved (?), improvised pumpkin curry soup (vegan)
1 tablespoon (or so) olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon curry
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
On medium heat, saute the onion until golden. Add garlic and spices, stir and cook for about two minutes. Remove from heat until other parts of the soup are ready.
1 cup water
1/4 cup (or so) coconut milk
2 teaspoons vegan bouillon cube or powder (or equivalent)
15 (or so) ounce white beans (I used rinsed, tinned beans)
Mix all the liquid ingredients together with white beans in container or pan you can use for blending. Blend together with an immersion blender. When smooth, add to the spice mixture and return to medium heat.
15 ounce can pumpkin (or the “meat” of a baked butternut squash)
I only had about half this amount of pumpkin, and you adjust to your taste. Obviously. Mix this pumpkin into the simmering soup base. Let simmer about 10 or 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and blend with the immersion blender.
1 cup coconut milk
Coriander garnish if desired
Return the blended soup to low heat, mix in coconut milk until warm enough to serve.
“We’ve done it. Nice little world. Well done the West. We’ve made it. We survived. What an idiot. What a stupid little idiot I was. I didn’t see all the clowns and monsters heading our way, tumbling over each other, grinning. Dear God, what a carnival.” –Years and Years
I never heard of the UK TV show Years and Years when it was released (in 2019) and when I stumbled onto it among my HBO streaming options a few months ago, I thought it looked like a comedy (granted, I didn’t read the description).
I then read this article from The Atlantic about the show and its prescience about the times we are now living in. At moments it feels breathtaking how much it seems to predict about what we are already going through, but perhaps if we had been paying attention all along (as one character reminds us) we’d have seen all the bright, flashing signs that we were screaming at us about impending disaster (or, as is the case, disasters plural, e.g. increasingly insane politics led by monstrous, inhumane idiots, the loss of meaning of words, economic ruin, climate crisis, pandemic… sound familiar?). And yet, just as the article from The Atlantic highlights, you notice almost right away that life goes on. You (as the characters did) thought everything had been “settled” at the turn of the century – the future was bright, and since then, it’s been one confrontation with darkness after another.
This is where Years and Years excels: spectacle as a backdrop to the tragedy and misery of everyday life – refugees’ struggles, marital affairs, love interests fucking robots, minor corruption, and all the helplessness of being just one person or family trying to hold it together and somehow swim against the tide that’s washing away all of society’s closest-held (but fragile) norms and values (things so easily abandoned when challenged). Yet, mundane daily life continues on.
The way I think about it is… as I do any time I’ve been in a situation with even a hint of hardship: you can and do get used to anything. That’s how something like Trump’s never-ending and escalating horror show continues: it ends up becoming normalized (the spectacle in the backdrop). Our brains cannot process and retain that much incoming information, let alone do something about it. Yet, tested, stretched, strained, people live on, move forward even if they imperceptibly have to become someone entirely different or other to survive. In this six-part series, which speaks better than anything I’ve seen lately, to these fraught times, there is the overwhelming sense of doom and the tiniest glimmer of hope – all tinged with the uncertainty that seems to, more than anything, fuel us all.
War is no longer declared,
only continued. The monstrous
has become everyday. The hero
stays away from battle. The weak
have gone to the front.
The uniform of the day is patience,
its medal the pitiful star of hope above the heart.
The medal is awarded
when nothing more happens,
when the artillery falls silent,
when the enemy has grown invisible
and the shadow of eternal armament
covers the sky.
It is awarded
for desertion of the flag,
for bravery in the face of friends,
for the betrayal of unworthy secrets
and the disregard
of every command.
Der Krieg wird nicht mehr erklärt,
sondern fortgesetzt. Das Unerhörte
ist alltäglich geworden. Der Held
bleibt den Kämpfen fern. Der Schwache
ist in die Feuerzonen gerückt.
Die Uniform des Tages ist die Geduld,
die Auszeichnung der armselige Stern
der Hoffnung über dem Herzen.
Er wird verliehen,
wenn nichts mehr geschieht,
wenn das Trommelfeuer verstummt,
wenn der Feind unsichtbar geworden ist
und der Schatten ewiger Rüstung
den Himmel bedeckt.
Er wird verliehen
für die Flucht von den Fahnen,
für die Tapferkeit vor dem Freund,
für den Verrat unwürdiger Geheimnisse
und die Nichtachtung
Music, as we know, influences how we perceive and feel about things in our lives, our environments, and nowhere does this play to its strengths than in films and television. It’s often a subtle piece of the storytelling puzzle, quietly pushing the emotion buttons of viewers.
I ended up seeing this week’s episodes of This Is Us and Star Trek: Picard on the same day, both defined by the song “Blue Skies“. I wouldn’t think this would be so … affecting. Sure, in Picard (the version used is sung by one of the stars of the show, Isa Briones), it is fitting because it refers back to the use of the song in the film Nemesis (a picture complete with a young Tom Hardy, whom I’ve also recently watched in Peaky Blinders and Taboo. Yep, all this from someone who claims not to be watching television content any more). It still seemed surprising for this old tune to turn up twice in emotionally demanding contexts.
But “emotionally demanding” is an interesting theme. In the past you didn’t really expect television to make any demands on you, other than sacrificing a certain amount of time to watch it.
With Star Trek: Picard, you can enjoy it on its surface-level merits, or you can bring a deep knowledge of Star Trek history and lore to your viewing, and assess whether or not it meets the sometimes exacting demands of Star Trek aficionados (Trekkers, perhaps, who can be unforgiving).
Some criticism has been leveled at Picard for making it into something that Star Trek resolutely has never been (bold text mine):
“The reaction, understandably, has been mixed. Some fans welcome Star Trek being brought up to date with the look and feel of contemporary television. Others maintain that such pessimism is at odds with what makes Star Trek Star Trek. The showrunner Michael Chabon, responding to questions via his Instagram page, defended Picard against the latter claim by saying that “shadow defines light”, that “if nothing can rock the Federation’s perfection, then it’s just a magical land”. It is a sentiment that has been echoed in the past by Alex Kurtzman, the showrunner of the other ongoing series set in the same universe, Star Trek: Discovery. He justified its equally violent, profane and dark sensibility by maintaining that modern Star Trek is simply a reflection of its time.”
I don’t know that the “Blue Skies” theme of the Picard finale would bring tears to the eyes of any non-Star Trek fan, but it certainly moved me to tears.
With This Is Us, everyone who knows something about the show knows it’s engineered to turn on the waterworks – you don’t exit most episodes without having a tear come to your eye. And this week’s installment was no exception, anchored by “Blue Skies”, as inexpertly but emotionally sung by guest star Gerald McRaney.
I wonder if This Is Us could possibly evoke this kind of reaction without the music. Could anything?
–Catherine BarnettNo woman wants to be low-hanging fruit,my glamorous girlfriend says, but I’m indiscriminateand love all fruit, I’m tempted to list each kindright here, in and out of season,because even just saying the names gives me pleasure,as does saying your name.I’m not alone with my passion — my whole family,we’re a little off in this regard,we can spend hours talking about cantaloupeor arguing over how many flats to buywhen it’s Peach-O-Rama at the Metropolitan.Once I even drove half a day to get to Pence Orchardswhere I met and took photos of Bert Pence,who sold me three boxes of peaches at wholesale prices.He was so good to me, as was the late-summer freestoneI picked as I walked back through the orchardin the August heat to the entrance gates,which were nothing like the Gates of Hell.On the contrary, I was in heaven there in Yakima.I can still smell that single peach, which was profuselylow-hanging, it was the definition of low-hanging,it fell into my hands, as you did —or perhaps as I did into yours —but that was months ago.When I walked past the stands yesterday,on what should have been the first day of spring,all produce had been covered with heavy blanketsto keep it warm, to mitigate harm.Today the temperature dropped so lowsomeone thought to remove the fruit entirely and stash it away.With this strange weather we’re having, will I see you again?I can’t help myself.
I admit you haven’t heard from me
in a while. In me there’s a little liar.
And a little thief. And a little whore.
Forgive me—while writing these words
I was lost in a trance . . . the sky wild
blue, fruit trees jeweled with ice . . . if not
for what I’d promised, I wouldn’t be here
at all. You were with me when I found that
box in the basement—opening it was like
entering a room & having (at last!) someone else
breathe for me. No one, as you know,
sets out to lose their mind. This poem began
as a secret—not from you, I didn’t know you
then. Now, it wears its shame like a halo.
Please, take it, rip it up, put it in your glass.
We can watch it dissolve.
I’ve made no secret of my love for dentists, but I can’t deny that the quality of the dentist varies greatly. Today, in the midst of all the coronavirus isolation (which has not been mandated in Sweden completely), a tooth that has given me nothing but pain since I was 19 started throbbing. In the throes of a full infection where my many-times-repeated root canal had been done, I coped with the pain for a day before finally breaking down and going to an emergency dentist.
The pain was finally too much to bear, and in my experience, seeing the dentist almost always alleviates the pain immediately. For this reason I love dentists. This time, though, it’s very infected, it is a complicated tooth and roots, and no amount of anesthetic injection would make the thing numb. I must have had ten shots, and my whole head was numb. But the pain from that tooth continued. The crown and root filling (and infection) removal was also excruciating.
It’s not an ideal time for exposing oneself to healthcare workers, of course. And no, they did not perform rogue maskless dentistry, as I have written in the title. This was just a joke with someone else about a dentist I used to know. But in these times, masks and the like are at a shortage. Seems a shame to have to have wasted any on me and my teeth.