Susie Bright’s Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce – With Notes on Charring

Ingredients for roasted tomato sauce in pan cut up tomatoes red bell peppers garlic onions
(Recipe after jump — with notes on charring)

It’s dry-farmed tomato season, which means I’m making big batches of Susie Bright’s roasted tomato sauce. This recipe is amazingly delicious and ridiculously easy — about 10-20 minutes of prep depending on how much you’re making, plus blending at the end. And it freezes really well, so whenever it’s tomato season, we make giant batches of it and freeze it for the winter.

You know that children’s book, Frederic, about the mouse who sits around in the summer gathering words and colors and sun rays to store up for the winter? That’s what this sauce feels like. When winter comes, and it’s been gray and cold and wet for days on end, we stick some tomato sauce in the microwave and put it on pasta, and it feels like pulling a bit of stored summer out of the freezer. And when the sauce is roasting, it fills the house with this ambrosial tomato perfume. We mostly make this to freeze, but we can never resist eating some of it right away, warm out of the oven.

I got the recipe from Susie Bright, and have adapted it over the years. Here’s my version.

Continue reading “Susie Bright’s Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce – With Notes on Charring”

Susie Bright’s Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce – With Notes on Charring
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Barbie, Humanism, and Death

Mild-to-medium spoilers for Barbie.

I expected the Barbie movie to be enormously fun. It was.

I expected it to be gorgeous, art-directed within an inch of its life, with a look both explosively oversized and finely detailed. It was.

I expected it to be feminist, with a sharp and complex depiction of gender roles and gender expectations. It was.

I even expected it to be surprising, to the degree that you can ever expect to be surprised. And boy, was it surprising. It was a wild rollercoaster ride, an intense mashup of giddiness and sorrow, with unexpected emotional nuance and plot turns that came out of left field.

What I didn’t expect was a powerful humanist view of death.

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Barbie, Humanism, and Death

Law and Order (The Concept, Not the TV Show)

“Law and order” means order. Not law.

Since the federal indictment of Donald Trump, I see a lot of political commenters beating their breasts about his hypocrisy, how he’s spouted the language of law and order while flagrantly breaking the law and acting as if he’s above it. And yes, it’s hypocritical as fuck.

But the concept of “law and order” has been around for a long time. And it has never, ever, actually meant that.

For decades, from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump, public figures espousing “law and order” have shown a deep indifference towards the law. They think it doesn’t apply to them. They think they can break it with impunity, in the name of “national security” or “traditional values.” If they don’t break the law themselves, they support and even glorify when law enforcement officers flagrantly, violently break it.

“Law and order” means order. Not law.

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Law and Order (The Concept, Not the TV Show)

My Adult Trike and French-Style Grocery Shopping

Greta's adult trike with grocery bags in cargo basket, in front of produce stands

With the adult tricycle, the entire way I do grocery shopping has changed.

When I got the trike, the main thing I wanted to do with it was get groceries. The trike has a nice big cargo basket — it’s one of the main advantages over a bicycle — and I pictured myself like a quirky character in a movie, toodling around the neighborhood with grocery bags in the basket, a baguette and a bouquet of flowers poking decoratively out of the top. (Never mind the fact that I don’t like baguettes and we can’t have flowers because the cats will eat them.)

It is, weirdly, kind of like that. Life imitates art, sometimes. Except for the part where I’m still building my strength and stamina, and when the trike’s loaded with heavy groceries it can be a struggle. Sometimes I’m the cute old dyke on the tricycle gliding around the neighborhood saying Hi to people — and sometimes I’m the fat old lady straining and puffing to get up a two percent incline. It’s fine.

But I’ve had to re-think my entire strategy around grocery shopping. Continue reading “My Adult Trike and French-Style Grocery Shopping”

My Adult Trike and French-Style Grocery Shopping

The Difference Between Daniel Ellsberg and D****d T***p

Pentagon Papers book cover
Daniel Ellsberg died on June 16, 2023. He was famous for, among other things, the public release of the Pentagon Papers, top-secret government documents detailing a massive pattern of government lies about the Vietnam War.

Lots of people see him as a hero. I’m one of them.

So how does the illegal retention and dissemination of classified documents make Ellsberg a hero — and make T***p a villain?

I think it’s pretty obvious. But I want to spell it out.

One: Ellsberg retained and disseminated classified documents, not for his own personal gain or aggrandizement, but for a serious and important matter of principle.

Two: He did this at considerable risk to himself.

Ellsberg knew he was committing a serious crime, and accepted the consequences. He knew he was almost certainly going to prison, probably for a very long time. (He avoided prison only because White House staff illegally wiretapped him and ordered a break-in at his psychiatrist’s office, leading to the case against him being dismissed.)

He did all this because of the specific content of the Pentagon Papers. The Pentagon Papers showed that the U.S. government had been systematically lying to its citizens about the Vietnam War. Among many, many other lies: The government knew the war was not winnable. And they kept pursuing it anyway. Nobody wanted to be responsible for losing the war — so they kept sending people into the meat grinder.

Ellsberg could do something about it. So he did. At great personal risk.

I have no freaking idea why T***p took those classified documents. The inside of his head is chaotic and baffling, and his motive is one of the great mysteries of this case. Was he planning to sell them, or use them as leverage in power games? Did he simply like the feeling of power and entitlement they gave him? But whatever his motive was, it sure as hell wasn’t government accountability or the preservation of democracy.

That’s the difference.

The Difference Between Daniel Ellsberg and D****d T***p

Michael Corleone and Richard Nixon

Michael Corleone and Richard Nixon

I’ll admit, this is pretty random. I’m doing some deep-dive writing about the Godfather movies, and I’m watching the White House Plumbers show on HBO (hilarious) and reading Watergate: A New History (excellent). My media brain is steeping in these worlds, and of course it’s finding shit to compare and contrast. It’s what my brain does.

So. Let’s compare and contrast. Michael Corleone and Richard Nixon. Like a freshman English paper.

Richard Nixon had a seriously brilliant mind. He had real skills with people, despite his obvious discomfort with them. He had powerful political abilities, with an extraordinary ability to bounce back from defeat. He inspired great loyalty in people who worked for him. And he had something vaguely resembling a genuine interest in public service. The EPA, Title IX, detente with Russia, diplomatic relations with China — that all happened under Nixon.

And he was a total shitbag of a human being. He saw political opponents as enemies, and he saw enemies everywhere. He equated his own selfish interests with the interests of the country, treating threats against himself as threats against the nation. He rationalized his most heinous acts by convincing himself that his enemies were all doing it, too.* He pursued a vile and pointless war, a war he knew was unwinnable, because he didn’t want to be a loser.** And let’s not forget: obstruction of justice, abuse of power, bribery (giving and receiving), tax fraud, election tampering, innumerable violations of his oath of office. His ethics, his concerns about the law and the Constitution, varied from corrupt to nonexistent.

He’s a tragic figure. But it’s the tragedy of wasted potential. I don’t feel sorry for him, except to the degree that I feel sorry for anyone in pain. His tragedy is that he used his power to inflict massive damage, on the people near him and the world at large.

Now. Michael Corleone.

Do I need to spell it out?

Continue reading “Michael Corleone and Richard Nixon”

Michael Corleone and Richard Nixon

How and Where to Buy An Adult Trike: A Half-Assed Guide

Greta on adult trike
More babbling about my adult trike!

In response to my recent post on the pros and cons of adult trikes, Andi (you know, from Facebook) commented:

You made me remember that I want to get a trike! [Partner] has and loves bikes, but my balance issues and general dyspraxia make me very unsteady on them. Do you have suggestions for where to start looking?

Hi, Andi (you know, from Facebook)!  “Where to start looking” is a good question, but a tricky one. Most local bike stores don’t carry adult trikes, and rental places don’t rent them — not in San Francisco, anyway. I bought mine online, and there are LOTS of online sources, but I wish I’d been able to try one out before I did that. So here is my very half-assed guide to shopping for an adult trike, based entirely on my own limited experience, with some guidance from the I Saw It Somewhere On The Internet Times. Some of this may be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway, since I didn’t know all of this when I was first shopping.

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How and Where to Buy An Adult Trike: A Half-Assed Guide

My Adult Trike: Pros, Cons, and Shameless Evangelizing

Greta on adult tricycle, Louise
I have a new thing! It’s a toy, a mode of transportation, an exercise helper, and a thing to get all excited about. Let me introduce you to my tricycle, Louise. (Yes, she’s named after the character in Bob’s Burgers.)

I was recently diagnosed with mild arthritis in my ankles. I can walk fine, but I can’t walk as far as I used to. Which fucking SUCKS: for years, walking has been my main form of both exercise and transportation. I needed something to replace both. Hence, Louise.

I’ve been riding Louise about a month. I am super excited about her, and am going to evangelize shamelessly. I like to evangelize honestly, though. Compared to a regular two-wheeled bicycle, there are some downsides to a trike. So I’ll fill you in on those as well.

Why did I get a trike instead of a bike? And why do I like it so much?

Continue reading “My Adult Trike: Pros, Cons, and Shameless Evangelizing”

My Adult Trike: Pros, Cons, and Shameless Evangelizing

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Gym Class

Children playing in park
I hated gym class. Like so many other nerdy, awkward kids, I despised it. I was bad at it; I was scared of it; it was a place of exclusion and shame.

And then almost overnight, I started liking gym. I didn’t just stop hating it — I actually enjoyed it. I looked forward to it. I had fun with it. And I was good at it. I vividly remember my nerdy math-teacher father jokingly scolding me about my report card one quarter, scowling and asking with mock disapproval how a daughter of his could have gotten an A in gym.

What happened?

I didn’t change overnight. I didn’t suddenly become a jock; I didn’t suddenly get good at playing with others or remembering the rules of the games. So what happened?

I was able to pick my own gym classes.

Continue reading “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Gym Class”

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Gym Class

“By the way…” Gilda, and a Neat Bit of Exposition

Gilda movie poster

Mild spoilers for Gilda.

I just saw a neat bit of narrative exposition, and I wanted to mention it.

I was watching Gilda, a noir film set in a fancy underground casino in Buenos Aires in the 40s. I was just starting to wonder when exactly in the 40s it took place — when the main character/narrator, Johnny, says, quickly and offhandedly, “By the way, about that time, the war ended.” And there’s a quick shot of a newspaper headline saying, “GERMANY SURRENDERS,” before the story moves on.

“By the way, about that time, the war ended.”

I love it.

It doesn’t just establish the time. It establishes Johnny’s relationship to the time, and to the world. We don’t simply get the cliche of the spinning newspaper headline. We get “By the way,” and, “About that time.” Which tells us something about Johnny. (Or possibly the culture of rich people in Argentina gambling in fancy illegal casinos. Or both.) It tells us that World War II was only of incidental interest, and his attention was on other things. It tells of deep detachment and self-involvement.

And it tells of a certain cynical pleasure in that detached self-involvement. Of course Johnny knows that, for most people, the end of World War II wouldn’t have happened “by the way.” The moment they learned of it would be burned in their brain — not something that happened “around that time.” Even now in 2023, 78 years after the war ended and 77 years after the movie came out, I hear this bit of narration, and I’m startled and pissed off.

It’s even more noteworthy because, a bit later, he recounts the first time he saw Gilda in Buenos Aires — and makes a point of telling us he remembers the exact day it happened. The contrast is jarring. Johnny knows that most people are pretty damned invested in World War II. He knows his offhanded attitude will be deeply off-putting to anyone listening. And he doesn’t care. This tiny bit of dialog demonstrates his detachment, not only from the world around him, but from us.

All in nine words.

The movie overall is a bit uneven: strong start, iffy finish, with both strong and iffy bits in between. But this? Chef’s kiss. Nicely done.

“By the way…” Gilda, and a Neat Bit of Exposition