Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 5 of a Four-Week Pleasure Cruise

I went to bed at 1:45 this morning, hoping to get up before 9 so I could watch the Knicks/Celtics game, the start of the new NBA season. I didn't. It was 10:53 when I woke up and turned on the TV in my room to the heat of the 3rd quarter, or rather the heat for the Celtics, who were running fast, with the Knicks spending the rest of that quarter trying to close the point-gap. I don't like coach Mike D'Antoni because he looks like a schmuck, argues like a schmuck, and needs to stop coaching like a schmuck. Ok, there are going to be less practice sessions because the season is shortened, but Miami pulled way the hell ahead of the Dallas Mavericks in their game, and the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers were keeping it very close throughout their game, two points and then at the end, one point apart, with the Bulls winning 88-87. I'm not interested in either team, except for Bulls star player Derek Rose, and was only curious to see how the new Lakers coach would fare, but that was a truly suspenseful finish.

As to the Knicks, they won 106-104, and thank god for Carmelo Anthony, but he cannot be the only player on the team. The rest need to step up, besides the top 3, including Amar'e Stoudemire, my favorite player in the league. D'Antoni needs to get this team motivated, and I'm sure the game today didn't quell calls for him to be fired.

Reading a live blog I found of today's game, I see that a lot did happen before I woke up and turned it on, with the Knicks way ahead at times. I'll watch the next game in full on Wednesday, which is them against the Golden State Warriors on NBA TV, of which DirecTV has a free preview going, so I'm glad for that, not to have to wait until Thursday when they're playing the Lakers, with that game broadcast on TNT.

I can't watch basketball like others do, riveted to the screen, shouting at the TV with every play, although I did that in the fourth quarter, hoping the Knicks would get ahead. I enjoy suspenseful final minutes, but only when my team is a few points ahead. I prefer comfortable leads, of course, but that'll do, when the defense is good enough to hint heavily at a win. I always have a book open while I'm watching the game, which today was These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach, spurred on by seeing the trailer for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson. Based on the trailer, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel seems to be just like The Bourne Identity (2002), in which the concept is used for a movie, but nothing else. These Foolish Things is about a retirement hotel in India, but from what I can tell, very few of the characters in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are adapted from the book. Characteristics, perhaps, but not entire persons. It's why when the movie tie-in edition of These Foolish Things comes out (retitled The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), people will be surprised to find that little of the book is in the movie, and also that in These Foolish Things, the property is called the Dunroamin Retirement Hotel, not The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. As it happens, the movie goes the right way on its own because the first 78 pages of the novel are a bit too gray for a movie and it's obvious those who produced the movie wanted it to be internationally accessible; in other words, not too much for moviegoers to have to think about in terms of other cultures. Just see India, see the culture, see the British retirees, and go from there. I like wider exploration, but I'll accept the seemingly myopic view here because Judi Dench and Bill Nighy are in this, and Tom Wilkinson is always good, so I'm set. Plus, I love the trailer. I've played it almost as many times so far as I did the one for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. By the time the movie comes out in May (pushed back from March, which was a perfect time for it), I'll have seen that trailer more times than the one for Ghost Protocol.

The turkey that Dad had shown us in the trunk in the parking lot of Wienerschnitzel on Friday was 10 pounds and was turned into a masterpiece by Meridith. She's got a gift, an instinct for food that will propel her to wherever she wants to go. She rubbed butter all over the turkey, under the skin too, unleashed a few spices, and it came out golden, nearly glowing. At dinner tonight, Mom said that there were many years in which she stayed up all night to make the turkeys we had, set an alarm for every 2 hours or so to baste it, and it never came out as Meridith made it tonight. And this was her first turkey, which she took photos of because as if we didn't know already, this was the one moment that shows a remarkable talent about to break open wide. The butter all over the turkey she learned from watching Food Network, and that's the amazing thing about Meridith's cooking: She can learn something from a source and then employ it as if she's been using it for years. Dad used to just dump marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes before putting them in the oven. Meridith places each marshmallow in a circular pattern on top of the sweet potatoes until the top is completely filled. While I was washing the dishes from dinner, a break before dessert that included a just-ok Claim Jumper pumpkin pie, I said to Meridith that it's really something that our family has a fast-budding chef and a writer. I credit continued exposure to Walt Disney World when I was a toddler, and Meridith's first visit to Walt Disney World when she was nine days old. The imagination expands immeasureably there, especially a developing one.

This four-week pleasure cruise turned out exactly as I had hoped. I did everything I wanted to do, and to cap it off, my book research has become even more fascinating. It's a bigger puzzle than I first imagined, with the families of some late actors hard to find (if there even are families), and it's exactly what I wanted. It's more rewarding when it takes time to get what you want.


  1. I have a turkey tip Meredith might enjoy trying some day. Lay strips of bacon all across the turkey before putting it in the oven. Or just wait until I join your family. Meredith and I can take turns -- one of us cooking on Thanksgiving, the other on Christmas. Or she can cook whatever she wants while I watch DVDs with you.


  2. The thing about Meridith's turkey is that bacon would be too much on it. She makes it in such a way that there'd be no question about why there isn't bacon on it.

    We're easy either way.