Food Network Star 2013 (Season 9) Episode 6: Product Pitch

Contestants are told from the beginning that they have to sell a concept, and it has to be pretty specific: sandwiches, cheap dinners … or, you know, yelling in shorts. It’s nowhere near enough to be a good cook, or a great cook, or a great teacher. The specific objective, as it’s explained over and over again, is to create a sense of constructed familiarity that will get viewers to like you, to invite you in, to listen to you, and to care what you say. You have to cook good food, but it’s enormously more important to look good on camera and to be engaging.

~~ Linda Holmes, Monkey See on NPR.org

Hello I am Zin!

[rant] A few weeks ago in response to certain high-profile events in the foodfame world, Linda Moore of the NPR Blog analyzed Food Network Star. She got it right! You can read her entire article here.

All of the ridiculousness of Food Network Star and of Food Network in general can be traced to this root! Alton Brown even hinted as much (it is very worth following his Twitter feed because he does these post-it communiques which are sometimes very scathing! I do not know how he gets away with it!) when he explained why he is judging and commentating on all these contest shows but not doing Good Eats any more! Just like I am sad that Tim Gunn is still associated with Project Runway, I am sad Alton Brown is still associated with Food Network. This is a guy who was a perfectly good videographer and he went to culinary school, people, not a correspondence course or a two-week workshop, he went to a real culinary school for two years so he could make the tv show he had in mind. No shortcuts. Food Network is now all about shortcuts (I do not think it was at first). This makes me sad. But it makes people rich and in America that is what counts! [/rant]

And now our regularly scheduled recap!

Today is Product Pitch day! This is another of my favorite FNS episode types! I am always amazed at what contestants come up with. Remember the woman who mixed sugar and cayenne pepper and tried to convince everyone her Popcorn Seasoning was worth buying? This year is extra special because Russell will show us exactly the difference between Top Chef and Food Network Star! This episode IS Food Network!

A lot happens in several parts so pay attention because I am only going through the roster once and covering all the different rounds. First the contestants have one hour to make samples of two different “uniquely you” products for the Alton, Bobby, and Giada to taste. They will give “brutal feedback” (“Brutal,” reiterates Alton; he is really having fun with this Mean Old Grump persona!) and advise them to use one or the other as their product. Then they meet with a graphic designer to come up with packaging! Except the packaging is more or less a jar with a computer-printed label: Chad misjudges and Rodney overshoots the limits of reality! They will produce their product and have one minute to present to three corporate executives from Cereal Box, Blue Box, and Big Box (the Other Big Box Store) who will decide if their ideas are worth pursuing for the customer base. And then the judges decide who goes home! And no, nobody will see their product produced.

On Food Network Star, they make you talk about your family a lot. The attitude is that if you can’t tell a personal story about a recipe, there’s essentially no reason to make it on television, which is a pretty high bar as far as coming up with reasons why you totally care deeply about those turkey burgers.

~~ Linda Holmes, Monkey See on NPR.org

The Best Three:

Stacey makes diary-free, gluten-free orange cardamom cookies since that is what she has to make for her son but they do not come out very good so she does what every good cook does when something is not working: She adds sugar! She also makes butterscotch but because she waited too long to add the cream it is too soupy so she melts more sugar to fix it. Maybe she can get the concession on diabetes medicine now! Bobby loves the story about her family (Stacey has this “family story” thing down, yes?) but Alton makes a face and Giada wants some water! The cookies are not good! Her Cayenne Butterscotch is better and Alton foresees a whole line of sauces! It is not a product unless it can be a mass market Empire! That is the FN way! Stacey meets with a graphic designer (“packaging represents brand promise” – you can not tell me she has not been coached) to come up with a 50s style Vintage Kitchen label for her Hot Mamma Butterscotch. She memorizes her script and gets lost when she misses a word! She gets giggly! But they wanted her to be less perfect so there it is! The corporations like the unexpected but delicious kick! They ask her why she would be the one, and she talks about the lineage of women in the kitchen since she learned to cook from her grandma and mom making her vintage but being a working mom she is modern. The corporations find her pitch polished but a little boring! See that is how Food Network Star is selling her to us! Even when she does a mediocre presentation she is polished but boring! Bobby criticizes the rehearsed quality (which is very accurate) and tells her to be more spontaneous. The judges like the product, they like the packaging, and she demonstrated her Vintage point of view but they want “more you.” But of course she is in the Top Three anyway! Except for her uncooked Pot Pie she has been in the top every week!

Russell does sweets! He says he has a product line but it is so small it is more like a hobby. Last week I predicted he would do bacon booze sugar butter jam but he does bacon candy with bourbon so that is like solid jam! He also makes ginger chili ice cream which sounds really good! “Come on give it to me” says Giada and I do not think she means ice cream. She loves his candy and Aton likes the ice cream but the bacon candy is unique so he goes with that. He designs a flying pig label. Hey we have When Pigs Fly bread in Maine and I like it better! He does a very good presentation! He talks about the food revolution to embrace sin which is the first time his revolution has made sense! They are laughing when he talks about the five sins in his Bacon Candy! “Come with me and Sin!” Everyone is happy! One of the Box people says it flies in the face of everything that is happening in Wellness (that is what a revolution is!) but so what, she owns lots of Big Pharm stock. They find him authentic and endearing (I am getting Puck from Glee these days) and his product is good but it does not come off as candy! Because when you say Candy to a Mass Market Box person it had better be chocolate or bright red or green sugar! On Top Chef they cook with salmon candy but the type of people who buy FN products would not understand bacon candy. That failure by the way is on the judges because they tasted the stuff and did not complain that it was not candy! Giada says it is the first time she has wanted to join him on his Food Revolution because he made it fun! I somehow do not see Giada chomping down on Bacon Candy very much!

Damaris talks to her peaches. They are pretty! She makes a grilled peach and chili pepper jam and a bourbon honey vinaigrette except Russell uses all the bourbon so she makes a whiskey honey vinaigrette. Alton wonders if her salad dressing has to be sold at a liquor store. It is very one-note. The jam is spicy but Bobby thinks that is who she is so she goes with the jam. She uses a raffia tie which makes sense. In her presentation she concentrates on channeling Stacey! She talks about the South being the best-kept culinary secret in the country. Since when is the South a culinary secret? She runs out of time! The Box People like the ginger in the jam and the labeling is exceptional! I do not know about that, I like idea but the colors do not have enough value contrast but now that I have seen all the products I realize they only had pink and grey ink to work with! Nobody explains what “BPG” means. They say she has a “reserved charm” and Alton thinks that is hilarious! Bobby is disappointed because they want her true personality. I love Food Network Star. She has given them her true personality week after week and they have told her to tone it down but now she tones it down and they want it back! Do they think we are idiots? Do they think we forget from week to week? Alton tells her she would have won if she had been less restrained because her product and packaging were great! Maybe she should have drunk the whiskey instead of putting it in the vinaigrette!

But if you’ve watched more than five minutes of Food Network Star, you know that they only care what’s in your heart to the extent it happens to be congruent with what people think is in your heart. You can be the nicest person on the planet, and if it’s not coming across, you’re out. It’s not about who you are, but about who you seem to be, because cooking is personal and touches people’s families in all the most constant and important ways, so, you know. You’d better be able to make the sale.

~~ Linda Holmes, Monkey See on NPR.org

The not-best Four

Chad decides on baked beans because all you can get in a supermarket is canned beans! So he makes… canned beans! No, he will put them in a jar and that makes all the difference! Wait! B&M makes jarred beans! They are a Maine company (or they were before all the little fish got gobbled up by the big fish) and they used to have a plant so close we could smell it (it is a terrible name for a bean company though, yes?) so I can get jarred beans any time! He also makes dry rub. I was wrong last week! I guessed he would make barbecue sauce! Dry rub is almost barbecue sauce but not quite. His dry rub has 16 spices and some are secret. Alton likes his beans “a little” but Bobby tells him there are so many rubs already it is hard to differentiate (and Bobby has a few recipes himself) so Chad sticks with the “little bit good” jarred not canned baked beans. He tells the designer he wants a see-through jar so they can see the green peppers and onions and three types of beans! He calls them Big Boy’s Barbecue Beans. His presentation is good except they do not understand what makes them “Big Boy” and he explains it is more grown up than regular canned beans so it is the Big Boy version. The execs (all women) do not look convinced about the name (I think it is downright obscene) but they want to do Chad anyway. No, they are just “ready to taste.” The beans. They say it sounds appealing but if it is in a clear glass jar it had better look good and this looks more like sloppy joe mix. Bobby thinks it is too sweet. Bobby does not like the competition for Hot Grill Guy!

Rodney talks in catchphrases and sound bites that do not really make sense. No wonder they seem to love him! Food Network where Articulate is optional! He fell in love with pie when he was a little kid stuck in a room of pies. I would think that was weird if I did not think it was utter bullship. He makes two pie kits: spinach and goat cheese quiche, and mixed berry. Alton likes the quiche. Bobby warns him to tune down the Big Ideas because simple is better. Alton tells him to keep it simple when he pitches. Rodney says, “Screw that, I have ideas in my back pocket.” Just because you have ideas, that does not make them good ideas! The pie kit is in fact a good idea (I do not know if Rodney understands the Ikea Effect but a pie kit is a textbook application) but he turns it into a mess! He tells the graphic designer he wants a coat-hanger wire handle taped to the jar, and the dough wrapped around it like a rolled towel. Of course they can not produce such a thing so they literally have a coat hanger duct taped to a jar. It is truly horrible! Frightening! He does the same nonsense phraseology in his presentation then OH NO he brings out his guitar! Maybe he can actually play and sing in certain settings like when everyone is drunk and happy but this is the second time he has tried to perform on this show and he seems very amateurish to me! The Box people all get that he believes in pie but they do not know what the product is! His personality overshadows it! Alton tells him he had no focus and left them confused so even though the quiche was good it did not work! He tells them, “But I had a blast!” and Alton says “But no one will buy your pie kit” and, well, usually I prefer art to commerce but there was no art here so commerce would have been far preferable!

Nikki makes Nikki Dinki sauce. Now it is not her fault her name is Nikki Dinki but I am not sure saying it over and over is a good thing when lack of authority is her main note. She makes two pureed veggie sauces, one spinach eggplant and the other roasted pepper tomatillo. the spinach eggplant is predicatably ugly (it was brown so she tried to make it green which meant it was that lovely green/brown mothers of infants know so well) so she goes with the other. Even she does not like her product! The Box people ask her where it would be merchandized which seems like an odd question! In my supermarket there is an entire aisle for condiments and sauces. She guesses with tomato sauce. They think it is too chunky for a sauce. Giada liked her energy but they did not know what they were getting because saying “roasted pepper and tomatillo sauce” is not good enough and no one told her to make it a salsa (or a dip which is what I guessed she would make last week)! She still Lacks Authority because she does not have a supermarket layout in her head and, well, that is how they are selling her to us. I still think her POV is the best in the competition and whatever they do with her on this show I bet FN will have a Meat on the Side program within the next year!

Chris is worried because it is not easy to bottle passion for sharing food with other people! That is why he can not be the Next Food Network Star right there! Passion only counts if you have a Product easily summed up in a catchphrase! He makes sweet corn bisque and a smoked apple red pepper jam which is his childhood in a jar. The judges think the corn soup is too spicy; Giada frowns! She and Bobby like the jam but Alton says there is nothing jamlike about it because you can not put it on cake (excuse me: savory jams like onion, tomato, bacon, and pepper have been around a long time now) so they suggest he call it something more savory and he comes up with: Ketchup! I do not belive this! I guessed last week he would make ketchup! I really did! I was kidding but he actually made Ketchup! He is confident going into his presentation because he is a sales person! But because they have been yelling at him for being loud he shuts down completely! It is bizarre! He sounds like he is a bad actor reading for a cheap infomercial. The worst mistake though is that he says a percent of profits goes to charity which no no NO that is not what anyone wants to hear! They do not feel a connection with the pitch and what do you know, it turns out he left out the part about childhood in a jar and his uncle having an orchard and the biggest applewood smoker in Ohio. Bad move! He left out the good stuff! This is what they do to people! They tell them to be who they are, then tell them that is not good enough, then tell them they are not genuine! He has many problems but what they probably see most is a lack of a culinary point of view that can be conveyed in a title so they will twist him inside out until he fails while trying to please them.

It’s not being a bad person that gets you fired from Food Network, any more than it’s being a bad person that gets you kicked off their competition show. It’s being ineffective at making people want to hang out with you and watch you make food and tell stories.

~~ Linda Holmes, Monkey See on NPR.org

Decision Time:

I was sure Rodney would be out but no, Chris is out! That is what having a clear culinary point of view does for you!

In the aftermath Nikki feels like a child again! They make you lose what makes you You in the real world! Yes they do! I am not sure I know or like the You Nikki is in the real world but that is the technique they use! Rodney resolves to work more on presentation and less on tunes. I think that is a great idea! Chad is traumatized by his first trip to the Bottom!

Food Network is a sandcastle of manufactured intimacy, and your ability to convincingly maintain that intimacy is your most important job skill.

~~ Linda Holmes, Monkey See on NPR.org

Next Week:

Do you know how to describe food? I mean how to really describe food? Can you make people taste the food through the screen? See, when I hear “grilled peach and chili pepper jam” I can taste it! I do not need someone to start in with words like “smoky” and “sweet” and “hot” because it is all there in the title! But it seems Food Network does not trust viewers to translate Sweet Corn Bisque into sensory imagination so they train people to talk in sensory adjectives! This is where Rodney will fall to pieces. He will say things like “pie in the sky” and “zen pie” and “live pie or die” and nobody will have any idea what kind of pie it is. Will he still inexplicably be safe? Will they arrange it so he has some kind of immunity?

Cooking TV is a personality-hawking business. They tell you that when you’re angling for the job.

~~ Linda Holmes, Monkey See on NPR.org

Star Salvation

Lovely and Chris have to make a dish “featuring potato chips as the star.”

Lovely wants to be creative and edgy and over the top so she makes salty sweet dessert with caramelized apples in rum sauce, a potato chip crumble, and mascarpone cream. She tells Robert Irvine it is sweet and sinful and it is a party in your mouth! He agrees it is a party in his mouth but he is not sure if the potato chip is the star.

Potato Chip Art by Eric Bass

Potato Chip Art by Eric Bass

Chris makes a potato chip bisque – wait, he is stuck on Bisque today! What makes a soup a bisque? “Bisque is currently used as a general term for a thick puréed or otherwise creamy soup that’s usually made with cream or crème fraîche. Traditionally, “bisque” refers to a complex shellfish soup that is classically made with lobster, crab or crawfish.” So I suppose if you puree potato chips in milk that qualifies * shrug *. It sounds terrible! Believe it or not there are recipes for potato chip soup but I think it is a little different from what Chris does. He adds smoked salmon and says it is a play on fish & chips which is cute but it still sounds awful! Robert finds it unusual, and very salty! That is because they used cheap potato chips! The better your potato chip the less salt it has because the chip itself is more flavorful!

So Lovely made delicious dessert that barely used the chips and Chris made a horrible mess but embraced the chips with both arms! Chris is out!

I can not argue with that! I think anyone who even considers pouring milk over potato chips and serving it should not be on a cooking show! But the thing is it could have worked and no one would have ever known it! I bet if someone like Grant Achatz played with the idea he could make something wonderful but it would take months to develop and hours to cook not 20 minutes! I would have made a soft-cheese-and-potato-chip stuffed tomato broiled with potato chip topping because I know those things can work in 20 minutes. The crumbling thing was obvious but if you have 20 minutes and no do-overs maybe obvious is best!

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Food Network Star 2013 (Season 9), Episode 4: Big Screen Bites

Would it not be so cool if this were the movie they showed at the theater?

Would it not be so cool if this were the movie they showed at the theater?

Hello I am Zin! Today the contestants go to the movies! Except they do not see a movie they make a movie. No they make a movie trailer! I do not know what this has to do with cooking but everyone seems happy. It is the most honest episode yet because it is clear that food has nothing to do with who wins! It is not who makes the best food but who makes people want to try their food! This is sort of like with the burger thing except there they at least pretended that the food mattered. Now they have decided that is not necessary. Never forget this when you watch a Food Network cooking show! It is not about how the food tastes it is about how well the cook convinces you it tastes! This seems appropriate for a movie challenge because the movies convince you that people do indeed look like movie stars and everything has a happy ending with beautiful violins. Unreality TV!

The contestants get into teams of three and make a one-minute movie trailer in an assigned genre to promote their food. Each person makes one dish: one will do an appetizer, one makes the entre and one must make a dessert. Then the audience picks which food they want to eat based on that! The winning team is the one that convinces the most people to pick their food! See, no tasting necessary to win! Then the judges (still only Alton, Bobby, and Giada, it seems Susie and Tusch got lost somewhere) will figure out who goes home based on some divine inspiration.

They shoot the trailer before they make their food which does not really make sense to me but that is more of the separation of reality and appearance! It does serve a purpose though because it locks them in to a particular dish. The whole service segment is very suspenseful with one team getting all the orders at first then another team catching up and finally the third team getting slammed! You can ignore that part since it is deliberately designed for viewers who still believe in the Reality of Reality TV.

Western – Nikki, Russell, Stacey:

Russell tries to explain the spaghetti western to Nikki: “It’s…modern…a little obtuse, a little off-center…. like that Fellini nature.” Later someone fills him in and he explains it is a group of Westerns shot in Italy with Clint Eastwood which is much closer. Flavorwire has a more thematic definition. pssst… In S6 Serena did a Spaghetti Western recipe too! Nikki is insecure because she does not have a restaurant but she is also upset that Russell can not get his lines right during filming.

The trailer has Nikki and Russell in costume as gunfighters dueling it out: “What did you bring to this food fight cowboy?” Russell brings his two guns. Stacey is some kind of moderator trying to decide. She has a hobby horse. I guess that is her costume. She seems more sexy than western to me but maybe she is the saloon girl. After service when they realize they had a lot of orders Russell says “I am smelling spankage, full blown spankage.” I love to learn new words!

Nikki makes the appetizer of shootout chili with just enough meat to give it meaty notes. Bobby loves the trailer and likes Nikki the best! Even Russell says she is a slick performer! Alton is impressed because it finally shows him the full body and depth she can get out of veggies. Yes that happens when you put meat in them! Alton tells her “The you in that trailer is the you I want to see from now on: confident and controlled.”

Russell makes his Spaghetti Western with whiskey and bison and bacon so he is happy he gets in his culinary sins. I think Russell has been studying with William Shatner because he… can only talk… in… a few…. syllables… at a time. Alton thinks Russell looks great and sold it but the food was not that good! Giada is disappointed the pasta has no flavor. I am again confused by how anything with whiskey and bacon can have no flavor!

Stacey makes campfire smores with chocolate coffee ganache, popcorn, marshmallow and rolls them in graham for a “dressed up classic.” Stacey, if you get a show, you know you will be making turkey burgers and baked chicken and pasta every day right? Bobby says Stacey looks uncomfortable like she was trying to remember her lines. Giada loves the idea of using popcorn because of the theater.

Romance – Viet, Damaris, Chad:

Damaris is not happy to do romance because she has been ordered to stop being so sexy! Chad tries to get them to do something light and funny but they said no because no one else ever heard of the Romantic Comedy. They come up with something like The Dating Game. Damaris holds very still (“No shimmy”) like she is frozen in place but she is the shrimp and grits girl all cozy and cuddling by the fire: “When you bite into my shrimp I burst with spice.” Ok… Chad tries to woo her to pick his chicken wings by saying “sexy, spicy, sticky” and “hard on the outside and juicy on the inside.” I think they are confusing the Romance movie with porn! Viet is just there. Using the word “macerated” does not count as romance.

Chad makes Korean chicken wings and worries about keeping the sweet down because they do not like him always making sweet sauces so he is keeping it spicy not sweet. Bobby starts to talk “about your performance” but starts to laugh. He did not expect to see him in that vein! Yes we all know exactly which vein. Food and sleaze do not go together and Chad went triple-x. But he appreciates that he went for it. Giada is speechless. Alton calls it “Fifty Shades of Hot Sauce.” They like his chicken wings though and Alton notices it is not sweet.

Damaris thinks shrimp and grits remind her of being in love. That makes me sad. She gets her grits creamy and smooth and well-seasoned. Seasoned perfectly! Heavenly! She is very happy with her dish! Inexplicably, Alton tells her she was not sleazy with the biting into her shrimp but romantic in a fun way that was loveable. That is data. He gets the grits though and he agrees about them being about love. He wants his own triple-x moment so he says “I need some private time.” But they need seasoning. Badly. Either they are just dumping on her so she has a rising arc or she has a palate that is out-of-sync.

Viet makes berries macerated in rum and honey topped with sparkling yogurt cream spiked with champagne with CO2 to make it sparkling and fizzy. It is something you would not expect from whipped cream. But is that not how whipped cream is made? Alton does not see him growing on camera. Alton says the food is not unpleasant it is just not what he expected. Bobby does not taste the rum and does not think it is very creative. I have to agree with that! He had an hour and he poured some berries in a bowl and szussszzed up yogurt and champagne?

Musical – Rodney, Chris, Lovely:

Right off the bat Lovely is not happy because she does not like Chris! He is loud and talks a lot! He knows she does not like him but that is ok he will just kill her with kindness! Lovely also realizes they have not liked any of her food. Chris figures there is no way to put a musical on the plate so they will do a song and dance and sparkle! Later he bullshits it with “musicals have lots of different things and lots of notes so we have lots of flavors.” It basically means “We had no idea what to do but we have Rodney who is a professional musician so we should do really well!” But they do not! They make up a song and sing about their food. The big surprise is Rodney who shows the world he is not much of a musician! He can barely play guitar and can definitely not sing! I like some pretty offbeat voices (like LP who has a very odd voice with extreme vibrato but somehow is still completely captivating) but this is just awful.

Chris makes lobster macaroni and cheese. “The first thing I do is cook my pasta.” Good choice. He puts in chorizo and tomatoes and parmesan and goat cheese. That sounds like an awful lot competing with the lobster. Giada does not think it works. It is too much stuff.

Rodney makes a steak mushroom onion and Gruyère pie. Again with all the stuff! Call it steak and cheese pie and then give the ingredient list! Do you know nothing about this? It does not matter what he called it because no one could understand him anyway. Bobby does not like the pie at all, even the crust is not good! Rodney keeps saying “pies and music are my life” which makes me sad because Alton points out he has not yet made a good pie and now he has not made good music now either!

Lovely makes a donut out of packaged pizza dough with cardamom orange caramel and orange zest and edible flowers to glam it up! Bobby can not bite into it! Giada struggles for the right word, looks up to heaven, literally spends about six seconds to come up with “dense.” It is too bad Wolfgang Puck is not there or he would throw it across the room! What is really hilarious is that Giada has a recipe for Italian donuts made with pizza dough! They are a little different in shape though. For that matter Pillsbury has a pizza dough-nut in little balls so it is not like it is an idea from another planet! But why use that when people on Chopped make donuts all the time in 30 minutes while figuring out how to put horseradish and hotdogs in their dessert at the same time! Maybe she was trying to do an homage to Giada but it backfired. Chris tried to get her to make a beignet because it would be a New Orleans thing and at least have something to do with music (like his lobster mac did… oh wait…) but I think Lovely would rather lose than take a suggestion from him.

The Reviews are In!

The Western team wins because they got the most orders! It also sounds like their food was best but I will bet there is some producer manipulation going on to make it look like they were best in both categories. So Nikki, Russell and Stacey are safe! And because they did not have the worst day Chad, Damaris and Chris are also safe!

Rodney, Lovely and Viet are up for the elimination!

The judges talk. Alton says Rodney has made only one good thing to eat in four episodes but he is the Pie Guy who can not make pie and the musician who can not play! Bobby wants him to balance food and entertainment better. Alton still sees the potential to get better. He is Safe! That is what a great package will do for you on Food Network.

Viet confounds Alton. Sometimes he likes his food but when he misses he misses big and he does not think he is improving. Giada thinks he is searching for himself. Viet tells the panel he is under a lot of pressure because of the Iron Chef thing and Alton tells him if he is not succeeding it is his style of cooking not that they have raised the bar too high! Now wait just a minute! Viet owns a restaurant and has been a James Beard semifinalist twice and is a Food & Wine Magazine Best New Chef, he is exactly where Bobby Flay was in the early 90s! I think he has found himself, it is just that he got lost and wandered into Food Network by mistake! Where Rodney got a win for a fruit salad just the week before! I do not know if they are keeping him around to give him a Rising Arc or if they are keeping him around to humiliate for beating Bobby Flay but Viet is Safe!

That leaves Lovely, who is Out! I can not argue with that. Even the Pie Guy who Can Not Make Pies at least made a good fruit salad once.

Next week they will do live TV.

And now for the fun part: Steal That Aftershow!

Star Salvation:

This web series is the equivalent of Last Chance Kitchen from Top Chef which was the equivalent of something from Survivor I think (I do not watch Survivor). Food Network may be last to jump on a bandwagon but at least they get there. Robert Irvine gives eliminated contestants tasks to do and in the end one person will be allowed back in but we do not know when. Not today at least. I had forgotten all about this!

Today Lovely, Danushka, Andre and Daniela (remember her? I did not!) compete in a Basic Skills Test! They have fifteen minutes to:

  • Crack a dozen eggs
  • Break down one chicken
  • Clean six shrimp
  • Julienne two carrots
  • Make garlic paste from one head of garlic
  • That seems like a lot to me! I suppose it depends on how cleanly you do things. That is where the unreality part of Reality TV comes in! While they are working Robert comes by and annoys them and asks them about their Culinary Point Of View.

    Danushka thinks the tasks are a lot of stuff too but she does not seem to be working very fast. She tells Robert why she should be salvated: “There is no one like me on Food Network, is that not enough?” She finishes all her tasks! I guess she really did go to culinary school! Robert does not understand her point of view (“I am a model!”) and her carrots are not julienne, they are batonnet. I am no fan of Danushka and she knew the julienne was not fine enough but I think Robert is just showing off! She is safe anyway.

    Andre is trying hard to embrace weight loss as his POV! But he did not go to culinary school and he can not finish the tasks! He did not get to the garlic paste. But it is good enough and Robert likes his point of view so he is safe.

    Lovely talks about giving people skills they can master so they can celebrate every day through their food. That is the first time I have understood Party on a Plate! Robert understands her. She is Safe.

    Daniela does not like skills. I do not understand! She went to culinary school she must have been trained in something! She wants to be on television teaching people to cook does that not mean skills? She tells Robert her point of view is all about sexy. He hollers out sexy does not work if you can not put food on the plate. “Of course I know,” says Daniela. I did not even realize he was talking to her at first so I was surprised she answered! I think he was shaming her! That is not nice! But the truth is she does not make much sense! Robert did not understand her point of view (it seems to be “I am sexy”) and her julienne is not cut through. Sexy does not make sense as a culinary point of view and her knife skills need work so she is Out! She says: “This turned out to be a Salvation Elimination!”

    The remaining three now have 30 minutes to make a dish with those ingredients: chicken, shrimp, eggs, carrots, garlic. The eggs are the weird part.

    Lovely makes panko crusted chicken with couscous and carrots and garlic with grilled shrimp as a garnish. Where is the egg? I suppose it is part of the breading layers? That seems like cheating to me because you would not know there was an egg in it! He also says there is no garlic taste. But her dish is the best because this is Food Network and they do whatever they want!

    Danushka makes shrimp stuffed chicken with an Asian stir fry of vegetables and a scallion pancake! At least I know where the egg is. Robert likes the carrots with ginger and the chicken is moist but the shrimp is raw! “Juicy,” says Danushka trying to spin it but no dice. “Raw is not juicy,” says Robert. Well, it is, but raw is also raw. Still she is safe.

    Andre makes an omelet! At last someone really uses the egg! He makes a Body Building Meal to energize and prime for weight loss! But it is not good! Oh no! The shrimp and the omelet are rubbery and there is too much red bell pepper. ‘

    Andre is Out! He is disappointed he did not get to champion his point of view but he is very sweet on his way out. “I must not be ready for this yet,” he says, which may just be the most intelligent thing anyone has ever said on getting eliminated from any show ever.

    Danushka and Lovely will face the next eliminee next time! I think it is suspicious how suddenly Danushka has turned into an actual cook.

    Sunday with Zin: More Apostrophe Stuff!

    I have written aint, dont, havent, shant, shouldnt, and wont for twenty years with perfect impunity, using the apostrophe only when its omission would suggest another word: for example hell for he’ll. There is not the faintest reason for persisting in the ugly and silly trick of papering pages with these uncouth bacilli.

    Hello I am Zin and I love apostrophe controversy!

    In May Slate published an article with the title: “Are Apostrophes Necessary? Not really, no” and of course that got my attention!

    All over the world (at least in England) apostrophes are disappearing! Waterstone’s is now Waterstones! That is what happens when you sell the business out to a conglomerate they will change your name!

    Last year I had a lot of fun with the Nobel-prize-winning physicist Gerard ’t Hooft and his Asteroid 9491 when the International Astronomy Union named an asteroid in his honor but turned ’t Hooft into Thooft! I also got the only email I will probably ever get from a Nobel-prize-winning physicist!

    I avoid contractions and possessives so I do not need apostrophes unless they are in quotes or titles or names like ‘t Hooft because I am too boring to re-invent spelling but not everyone is so boring!

    I did not know the US had an official policy banning apostrophes in street names! But I did not know there even was a United States Board on Geographic Names in the first place! I think it is just wrong to call the mountain Pikes Peak because how do you know if the name is Pike or Pikes without the apostrophe? And I do not understand how Clark’s Mountain in Oregon got an exemption! Martha’s Vineyard was named in the seventeenth century before people had time to worry about such things (and when apostrophes were all new and shiny and just starting to be used for possessives in the first place) so I suppose that is why it is an exception and gets its apostrophe.

    There is a whole movement to Kill the Apostrophe! But Apostrophe Protection Society is opposed to that death penalty! The apostrophe even has a theme song! And a book!

    The sole purpose in the life cycle of the apostrophe used to be to torture students and give grammar school teachers something to do but now we have better things to teach in fourth grade and students seem to be torturing themselves just fine so maybe that is not a good reason for apostrophes to go on living! The more modern secondary job of the apostrophe is to scare computers but do we really need apostrophes to do that?

    I do not think we should be changing punctuation around to make our computers happier though! Or even to make fourth graders happier! I do not think though that it is ok to just not use them and let dont and wouldnt fend for themselves! And what about hell and shell and ill? I still do not think it makes sense to make people figure out if it is Pike or Pikes who discovered the peak (or whatever he did to get it named after him). It is not that hard to learn to use apostrophes or to avoid them if you do not like them!

    Maybe everyone should write Zin style and we can forget all about apostrophes!

    Food Network Star 2013 (Season 9), Ep.2: Burger Bash

    How Nathan Myhrvold makes a Modernist Burger

    How Nathan Myhrvold makes a Modernist Burger

    Hello I am Zin and it is time for burgers!

    The contestants have to make burgers for up to 100 people though actually no one has to make more than 15 and they have to do a 2-minute in-person demo to the crowd. The people will each have a token they can “spend” for a burger but only one! So the contestants have to sell the sizzle! The judges will taste everything and like Alton says, “We will be ever so judgmental.” The audience has the dials and the tokens though!

    The Best:

    Chad makes guess what barbecue! Memphis barbecue with cole slaw and hickory smoke sauce that looks like it came from a bottle but maybe that was ketchup since he said he made his own sauce. He uses 12 spices and makes fried green tomatoes and the women do not care what he is cooking they just turn their dials up and get in line! Whether he wins or not I bet FN is going to find a way to put him on TV or send him out to do demos and fairs. Giada loves his fried green tomatoes but wants him to do some kind of barbecue besides Memphis sweet style which seems a little picky to me. That is going to be the problem with Chad because how much barbecue can you do? I am bored with him already!

    Stacey wins the Cleanest Station award! No of course there is no such award but it is important since on TV you can not have a messy station. She makes a Baja Betty Burger (I do not know who Betty is) with beef and chorizo, jalapeno aioli, pico de gallo and lettuce on the bottom to keep the bun from getting soggy because “nobody wants a soggy bottom.” Alton is not sure how she will work vintage into this but Bobby is more worried that she needs to up the spice level if she is going to call it spicy! She does not quite get there Alton wants 15% more spice but it is a good burger over all and she does a very good presentation and gets 9 tokens so she is in the top three.

    Russell talks about beef and lamb and duck fat and bacon and Alton tells him his Seven Sins are his strength so he goes with that! When he says bacon and liquor people cheer! Of course they do everyone likes bacon and liquor! Fat and salt are why a third of us are obese! Yay Russell you and Paula Deen killing America one show at a time! When you have your heart attack you can peddle heart medicine like she sells diabetes drugs! God Bless America! He makes the best burger of the day (of course he does fat and salt taste good just ask Michael Moss) and he connects with the audience and he ties for the most tokens with 15! He is in the top three! He wins a prize for Most Improved since last week he was in the Bottom Three! Who cares about heart disease he won! And I bet it is delicious!

    The Mediocre:

    Viet does not like public speaking but he owns a restaurant so he knows he has to talk to customers. He makes a Vietnamese banh mi burger with pickled cucumber, duck fat aioli, and mushroom pate. I think duck fat aioli sounds disgusting but it is the sort of thing chef types love! Giada asks him how he will sell it and he starts to stammer until Alton says “All you need to do is say ‘I won Battle Ground Beef’ on Iron Chef America which is true! So that is what he does and they are impressed that his presentation improves! He gets 9 tokens and the judges like his burger Alton thinks he developed the flavor well. Viet is Safe!

    Rodney is the first to cut himself! He makes a burger pie by putting onions, mushrooms, gruyere and a bison patty on top of a pie crust and he says something about Motley Crue that I did not quite get. He talks very fast! He is rolling pie dough and ends with “You’re freakin’ pie style jack” and Bobby loves the energy but he needs to calm down! They do not like the burger Bobby says the crust is like a tortilla and he does not have to make a pie every time. He could have made a hamburger pie there are such things, Alton had a meat pie show on Good Eats, but I do not think Rodney is that good a cook to make something like that up on the fly. He only got 7 tokens but they love him so he is Safe!

    Lovely uses ground turkey for her burger because her mother used it to make it healthier but then she puts on bleu cheese and butter so what is she talking about? Bobby says to sell delicious not healthy! Alton says people at a burger bash do not care about healthy. This is why I love this show! They will turn around at some point and say “Healthy can be delicious” but right here they are saying clearly it is not! She puts caramelized onions and microgreens on top to make it glam! I guess microgreens are glam? I can buy them in my supermarket and I do not need instruction on how to throw them on a burger so how glam can they be? Giada still thinks she is fake but Bobby thinks she is likeable and Alton wants to try her burgers so that is good! She had the highest focus group score but her burger was all bleu cheese, still she is Safe. She is fake and that is exactly why she is perfect for FN!

    Damaris makes a lamb and duck fat burger (is it just me or does that sound disgusting) on a focaccia bun with pimiento cheese because the burgers are southern and the cheese is southern. I am not sure either is southern really but ok. Alton warns her not to be cutesy. She tells the crowd in the south first they learn to crawl then they learn to grill and she grilled at age 7 which makes her developmentally delayed if she was still crawling. Yes I am being picky. But then she waggles her boobs and the dials go way down! Alton says they were laughing at her. That makes me sad. I do not particularly like her but she is not mean and she knows she made a mistake and that is good enough for now. She cries really hard and they have to let her gather herself before they continue to tell her how bad she was. They tell her she was in the middle of the pack with 7 tokens and she could have been really great but the boobs were off-putting. Her burger was really good though she just did not sell it! Anyway she is safe but she is the last Safe.

    Chris makes pickled watermelon rind which sounds like another banh mi but he calls it Korean. He explains it as “hodgepodge” and Alton is worried but tells him to sell it like he sells at his establishment. Chris can do that! He is a salesman! He has a food truck! He runs out of time explaining his burger and the dials go down but he is a used car salesman and just keeps calling people over! I think he gave away a bottle of booze at one point but I think they would not have shown that because it probably breaks about thirty liquor laws. Bobby calls him a carnival barker and Alton says a carnival barker has more mission! He has a mission to sell! A point of view is what he does not have! I get tired listening to him! I would go over and see Viet or Stacey or Russell who are quieter. They do not like his demo but Giada is pleasantly surprised by his burger! He gets 13 tokens so Alton admits though his presentation was dead on arrival he saved it by working the crowd and he can cook and sell when he has a product to sell so now he has to see himself as a product and sell it. This is very depressing. People are not products! But he is Safe.

    The Worst:

    Nikki is worried because she has to make a burger with meat on the side! She is worried if she includes too much veg it will be loose and wet. That sounds like something to worry about all right! Alton tells her not to get cutesy. She is pretty confident because it is what she does online but she only gets six tokens! Of course she does not get much at a burger fest if she is making burgers out of veg! Alton does not like the Veggie Bang Burger and Giada says it has no flavor! Giada tells her to stop apologizing for the vegetables while at the same time telling her the vegetables taste terrible! That is why I love this show! Later Alton says she is not inspiring anyone to follow her and Giada wonders if she has mastered vegetables in general. That is pretty scary a semi-veg cook who can not cook veg! This was probably not a good test of her veg skills though!

    Danushka decides the problem is that her personality is not coming across! I think her personality is coming across just fine! I think Danushka is a little bit full of herself and has shown no reason to be that I can see. She thinks burgers are boring too so she tells Bobby she will take her shirt off and hope they like what they see and come to her station. Bobby tells her to forget the fashion model and get them to see her as an authority figure. She does the “watching you” finger thing with Bobby which makes no sense. She makes a bison slider with corn salad but her presentation is all in the red zone. “I love game meat!” she shouts and everyone laughs! She says she was herself 100% and that is who she is take it or leave it and I know which I will do! Alton says he can not look away but it hurts when he looks! There it is! That is pretty good. FNS a new train wreck every week! Come on that is why we are all watching yes? Her burger is ok but she only gets 2 tokens and did worst with the focus group.

    Andres talks about teaching men that cooking is as manly as growing a beard but Giada maybe does not like beards and tells him to tell a direct story! Giada and her stories! Alton asks about the whole wheat bun and again tells him how compelling the weight loss angle is but Andres does not want to jump on the weight loss bandwagon and he says something very interesting: “So many people are exploiting fat people.” Yes they are! There is money in obesity! My respect for Andres just went up a lot! He asks the audience if the guys make dinner and they seem to think he is scolding them. It does not go well! He makes a Cuban beef/pork burger with paprika and garlic but he is in the red then he talks about losing all that weight and the dials jump into the green! Maybe people at a burger bash do care about healthy! He only gets three tokens though so no they do not! Alton thinks it tastes like onion and mustard and has no seasoning. Giada says he insulted the men and alienated people by scolding them but I do not think so I think he issued a challenge and they were too lazy to take him up on it! But if guys do not want to cook he is not going to be able to get a show! Giada says he is running away from the thing that connects him to people which is the weight loss. I feel bad for him because he does not want to do that. Alton says he is the guy that does not want to do the thing he needs to do. Giada says he is trying to leave that other person behind which is pretty astute for Giada even if it is not accurate! Bobby defends him as having a message which makes me think Danushka is out since her message is somewhere around “I am beautiful and you are not so look at me.”

    And the Loser Is:

    Andres is out! That is what happens when they tell you to do something and you will not do it! I do not think they gave him enough of a chance to think about a new POV but I guess Danushka is good for getting people to talk about FNS! No publicity is bad publicity!

    Analysis:

    Yes I am going to do analysis! Brace yourselves! Do not worry it will be over soon.

    I have no idea who will win but I am positive that they knew before they started filming! A network does not spend money on a new “star” unless they know what they have and they will not leave it to chance! Especially with ratings dropping and the whole thing with Justin still confused and muddled! This is a big game of “We want to generate ratings with this competition and create a ready-made audience who is familiar with the new person at the same time.” Who they pick depends on the demographic they want to shore up!

    Stacey seemed most likely at first but I think she is peaking too early! They need to get her a POV too! If they want a Guy Fieri threat they might be looking at Rodney or Chris but I think Chris is too frat-boy and Rodney may not be able to cook anything but a traditional pie! Chad might be in the running to pick up grilling from Bobby! Nikki has the best POV but she does not seem to have the presence to pull it off at least not yet but if they are replacing Melissa maybe she is the one.

    The person who most surprises me is Viet and my surprise comes from outside the show! From TWoP I learned that he was on Extreme Chef and he had no problem being forceful and outspoken and some people think he is putting on this humble and quiet act! I did not see the show so I can not speak to that (and I can not find anything on Youtube) but still that is interesting! It would mean he is poised for a Rising Arc – start out shy and awkward and develop confidence! We know he can cook so maybe they want to add a touch of class with someone who has actually won awards instead of all these people who are making it up? Possession of culinary chops in the past has been a negative but maybe they are figuring out that they need someone besides Bobby Flay who can actually cook on the Food Network!

    We will see how things develop!

    Next week:

    The Chopped Challenge with Alex Guarnaschelli!

    And I want a cheese burger right now! This is why I should not watch FNS!

    Food Network Star 2013 – Episode 1: Are You Ready for Prime Time?

    Van Gogh: "The Potato Eaters" 1885

    Van Gogh: “The Potato Eaters” 1885

    Hello I am Zin and no I am not ready for prime time but that is why I am not a contestant!

    I already did bios and my first impressions in the preview post so we will jump right in!

    There is the usual gushing and the contestants say hello and then the Three Wise Mentors (no teams this time!) give them platitudes! Right off the bat they have to make a 30 second pitch tape with their culinary point of view! This seems like it should be something they would have prepared in advance but so many have no idea what to say I do not understand that! It is like going to a job interview without a resume! They also have to make a potato dish for the five judges! Then they find out about the focus group and the Dial of Doom!

    TopThree:

    Stacey takes vintage food and makes it modern! That is what Emily did last season yes? A lot of people did not like that Emily was out as early as she was so maybe they think they can swap in someone else with the same POV and no one will notice! She stumbles on her first pitch tape take and Alton comes over and tells her, “When the camera comes on there is nothing in the room but you and that” and that seems to help her a lot! I wonder if this is a little beginner-nerves staging though because I think she is a front-runner! For her dish she makes fried potato balls with chives and shredded potato skin on the outside all flash fried and she calls them Wild Man Potato Skin because the potato skins remind her of her son and his hair which sounds silly but that is a perfect FNS Family Story About The Relationship With Food! Bobby and Alton like the dish a lot! Tusch thinks she is very natural but a little low key so she needs to ratchet it up. That makes me sad. But that is a classic FNS critique! But she is one of the Top Three!

    Chad is the Barbecue Jew from Philadelphia! That is his tag line! It is hilarious but I do not think he can get away with saying that on a show! Everyone likes him! Nikki likes him Russell likes him and the focus group breaks into applause for him and only for him! The collective tongue of America is hanging out! He makes a potato latke with an egg and barbecue sauce and a little bit of shredded pork. Tusch just hears the focus group go wild and who cares about the food! Alton is a little confused about the egg but Giada likes the barbecue sauce.

    Nikki does her own online cooking segments so she has no problem with the camera! Giada and Bobby love her Semi-vegetarian concept! She cuts herself twice making her potato cauliflower and parsnip soup but that is what plastic gloves are for! Susie loves her food but worries that she is a little bit cutesy and it hurts her credibility. Her name is Nikki Dinki how can she be anything but cutesy? Bobby loves the soup it is inventive and has great flavor. She is in the Top Three!

    Safe:

    Damaris gets lost in her pitch tape first take about modern Southern food so Bobby says, “Tell me about yourself” and she starts talking about dancing. Bobby is confused! Then he decides she is wacky so she should do wacky and she uses “I can cook my ass off” as a tag line with all these shoulder poses to one side then the other! Her dish is roasted potato salad with bourbon mustard vinaigrette and it is a Southern party in your mouth! Tusch decides it is the oddest 30 seconds he has seen! He likes her in person but on tape she is off-putting so she needs to do something about that. Alton and Giada love her potato salad! She is Safe!

    Chris gets confused about his culinary POV and starts talking about helping kids grow and reaching hearts and passion and Kim Passion but nobody knows what he is talking about! That usually means someone does not have a culinary POV and is making something up! It turns out he went on medical missions with his parents when he was a kid and was trying to work that in but nobody knows what that means in terms of his food including him so he needs to come up with a Brand – aha the first appearance of the B word – that they can develop! This is not a chef competition it is a Brand competition and his needs work! His pierogi needs work too because Bobby thinks it is bland. Then again Bobby thinks anything north of chipotles are bland! But Chris is safe and I predict he will get some intense work on developing his Brand! But – thanks to wunderbar12 on the TWoP forums I have discovered something else interesting about Chris: Remember Charles Ramsey who saved the kidnapped girls in Cleveland? Chris is his boss! He has made a Charles Ramsey t-shirt with proceeds going to the families of the victims so they can get any support they need! He started out with a Ramsey Burger on the menu but Charles did not like that much so he stopped it! I think Charles Ramsey is a pretty cool guy! Chris goofed with the burger but he made up for it too! And now boy does he have a culinary point of view! Except I suppose the show was filmed before all the excitement.

    Viet is uncomfortable in front of the camera and that makes me sad because I hoped he would pull it off and overcome the disadvantage of being a F&W Best New Chef, a James Beard finalist, and the one who beat Bobby Flay in ICA! But no Tusch calls him a gentle soul which is a wonderful thing in Real Life but a terrible thing on TV! I want to cry! Stay Gold Ponyboy! He makes a potato croquette with soup inside. Say that again: he makes a potato croquette with soup inside! If anyone made that I would laugh at them but it looks beautiful and Susie says it is “ridiculously good.” He is doomed! But for now he is Safe!

    Andres gets a little confused trying to move his POV from his 150 pound weight loss to teaching guys how to cook! I do not think they will let him get away with that! Bobby wants him to be inspirational but he does not quite get there. Tusch thinks he is a little closed down and is not a star yet. Bobby thinks his Spanish omelette with chorizo needs seasoning because it is bland. How can anything with chorizo be bland?

    Lovely talks about glam but Bobby tells her to be more specific so she talks about eating diamonds and flowers. She makes sweet and purple potato hash with the glam right on top: candied bacon and arugula salad and edible flowers! Is she going to put flowers on everything? I think she is very comfortable on camera but this flower thing is troubling! Tusch does not get the glam message and she needs to be authentic without poses and empty words. Bobby likes her dish so she can cook but I am not sure potato hash can be called glam just because you throw flowers on it!

    Rodney the Pie Guy impresses Bobby with his Very Own Style! Giada wants to taste his pies! That is a double entendre with plausible deniability built in! He makes a potato pie with crab and gruyere filling and it does not come out exactly the way he wanted but Alton loves it! Tusch loves his presentation! He believes he is the Pie Guy and he does not even know what that means but he is intrigued! See you do not have to make sense on FN you just have to have a unique culinary POV! Jeff Mauro made everything into a sandwich and now Rodney will make everything into a pie!

    The really really bad ones:

    Danushka does not do so well in her promo! I thought she would be comic relief but I did not know she would be so bad at the whole camera thing! Giada says she seems angry and Danushka is surprised because people always say that! Well Danushka maybe that means something! She complains about everyone! She thinks Lovely is a stupid name! She does not like being in the kitchen next to someone (Russell? I am not sure) who is a Mad Scientist! She does not like Damaris talking too much! She does a second take and asks Giada if she smiled? She can not tell! Giada says, “You tried.” Yes she is the one everyone will love to hate and they will keep her around until the ridicule gets uncomfortable! If she was not such a mean person I would feel sorry for her! For her dish she is making “a dish I call a potato puff” because it is a potato puff and she makes a horseradish sauce because that is Eastern European and that is what she is but she is worried the potato puff is raw! Bobbie does not say it is raw but he does think it is dense! Susie says her pitch tape is bizarre and she comes off aloof and she needs to find her version of warmth! Good luck with that! She is one of the Bottom Three!

    Daniela does a terrible first take and Giada tries to calm her down but it does not go very well! She does not seem to know what to say! Something about beach to kitchen because she is Peruvian but lives in Hawaii! I am surprised because her bio video was fine! She makes a traditional Peruvian potato dish papas a la huancaina with purple Peruvian potatoes. Tusch is disappointed with her tape but Alton and Bobby like her dish. Still she is in the Bottom Three.

    Russell plays Che Guevarra with a Mohawk! He is the Dissident Chef the Culinary Anarchist the Underground Guy the Food Revolution! Alton is scared! Giada is lost! He does a second take and names the seven culinary sins: Fat, salt, offal, liquor… I forget the rest but that makes sense! “My food will kill you!” That is pretty revolutionary! I watched his bio and said in my Preview that he tries to look scary but he is not and sure enough Tusch says he does not seem like a revolutionary he seems like a librarian! Now it just so happens that being a librarian can be pretty revolutionary these days when you have to decide if you are going to give the government the records of the books people check out [Addendum: see what I mean? In Burma a librarian can get sent to jail! Ye Htet Oo is a true Revolutionary Librarian! Tusch needs to get out more or at least subscribe to The Millions feed!](and Tusch should read The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai which is all about a librarian who tries to be a revolutionary and fails) but I understand what he means! Why is Russell trying to sell himself as scary? They did an underground supper club challenge in Season 6 E7 so what is the big deal? Is he trying to be like Justin the Culinary Rebel? Susie tells him not to be a downer which is very helpful. He makes a potato trio with a pickled potato among other things and Giada likes the idea of a tasting but not the execution. He is in the Bottom Three!

    The Shrine of the Glowing Vagina (™ Minxeats) is back for the round of judging! It does not look like the same table from last year but they could not have bought a new glowing vagina table could they? How many glowing vagina tables can there be in the world?

    They do not pick a winner just name Chad Stacey and Nikki as the top three! Wait what happened to Rodney? They loved his presentation and his food why did he not get into the top?

    Danushka, Russell, and Daniela face the judges as the Losers. Now let me see:

    Danushka has no warmth and and made a dense potato puff;
    Russell had a manner inconsistent with his stated POV and his dish was not good;
    Daniela had a terrible tape but a good dish that was authentic to her interesting POV.

    Guess who goes home? Right! The one who can cook! This is the Food Network after all! Bye Daniela! I am surprised because I thought she was very energetic in her bio tape but it did not transfer.

    Sunday with Zin: Food Network Star 2013 (Season 9) – Preview

    Hello I am Zin and it is summer and that means it is time for Food Network Star Season 9!

    I am still trying to figure out Season 8 from last year! The goofy MST-style thing with Justin Warner never happened! He did that prime-time special but I did not think it was good at all. People liked him so much but maybe he was making more money from his restaurant and did not have time? Maybe FN did not want to do his kind of show after all? Maybe they had a big fight? He does promos sometimes so it could not have been much of a fight. Maybe they are grooming him like they do with Kelsey on The Cooking Channel and they are waiting for him to be less pimply kid because the “hip” demographic they hoped for never happened (they never put up a show so of course it did not happen!) and more Ready for Prime Time for people who do not cook but want to sit on the couch eating Cheetos and watch others cook? I do not know!

    That was last year so it is time to move on!

    It is now Season 9! I think there are more culinary school people this time. They usually do not last long because Food Network is not a culinary school kind of place any more. They like family stories. And energy. I confess I have not watched Food Network at all over the past year except for these competitions. I do not even watch Chopped very often any more. I still love America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country on PBS though!

    It is time for the 2013 crew which is Season 9! Let us see what kind of train wreck this will be!

    The Contestants:

    Andres Guillama – 26, North Carolina, healthy Latin food. He is not a flirt he just acts like one! He can not help being charming really! (He also can not count! He says he has seven siblings and he beat the Brady Bunch by two but the Brady Bunch had six kids) He lost 150 pounds so he became a childhood obesity prevention coach. Is that a real job? His whole life revolves around food! That does not sound like eating pathology at all! He is from a Cuban family. Hey he is Herb 2! He is cute in a young way and he has a lot of energy.

    Chad Rosenthal – 37, Philly, barbecue. He has a barbecue restaurant. He also has a sad family story but we do not know quite what it is it yet! I think that is a major teaser. I bet it has something to do with his kid(s)! He has a nice manner and has an appealing woodchopper aura! He would look very at home out by the woodpile. I think a lot of people are going to complain about his hair but I like it!

    Stacey Poon-Kinney, 34, SD, former dancer, restaurant owner. She really is happy all the time! And she does not know what a hipster is (I do not either!) but sometimes she is called one. Maybe we will find out what a hipster is! She was on Restaurant: Impossible which, wait, does that not mean she was not a very good restaurant owner? She owned it with her father so maybe he was the bad owner and she was just the… bad chef? I do not know! Robert Irvine creeps me out so I do not watch him unless I have to and how often do you really have to watch a tv chef? She was a dancer before she and her father started a restaurant. Cooking is in her blood from her great-grandfather-chef. She does Sunday Pancake Dance Party! She has FN written all over her! It does not matter if she can cook they will teach her!

    Chris Hodgson, 27, Cleveland, culinary school grad, runner-up on Great Food Truck Race S2, new restaurant owner. He was a lacrosse player who has had three shoulder surgeries! I am not sure what that has to do with cooking but he seems very proud and it shows he… I do not know but it shows something important. He is the Frat Boy. Remember Chris from 2011? (what is it with the name Chris?) Or Mikey from TC2? ADDENDUM: WAIT! Thanks to wunderbar12 on the TWoP forums I have discovered something else interesting about Chris: Remember Charles Ramsey who saved the kidnapped girls in Cleveland? Chris is his boss! He has made a Charles Ramsey t-shirt with proceeds going to the families of the victims so they can get any support they need! He started out with a Ramsey Burger on the menu but Charles did not like that much so he stopped it! I think Charles Ramsey is a pretty cool guy! Chris goofed with the burger but he made up for it too! And boy does he have a culinary point of view now! Except I suppose the show was filmed before all the excitement.

    Danushka Lysek, 37, NYC, culinary school grad, personal chef, eliminated on the second round of Chopped when her lamb and rutabaga lacked taste and creativity. You must see her introduction video! Click the link on her name, it is too good to miss! She swears a lot! She seems to think she is very dynamic and a leader but she seems like a whiney bored teenager to me. A lot of the TWoP Chopped followers are not happy that she is on this show! See she is a model and a personal chef and she works for single rich men who work in banking. If a wife is involved she does not get hired because they feel threatened. This is really what she said go watch the tape! She slams lettuce to remove the core! She advises cleaning your kitchen! She talks about blood and juices dripping down! When she lost Chopped she decided it meant she is not just a pretty face (I am not sure she is that pretty but I am a terrible judge of such things) but that she is also a rock star chef. I am not sure losing a cooking competition for tasteless and uncreative food with relatively ordinary ingredients (no leftovers, no corn fungus) means that but I will not argue. I think she is comic relief! She is the one everyone will love to hate! I do not hate her I think she is funny!

    Damaris Phillips, 32, KY, Southern food, culinary school grad and teaches there. She likes to make pickles and super-phallic sausages! From her picture I really thought she was Chantal from ANTM-9 the China season! She is loud and inappropriate! No I am not saying that she says that! She does not seem all that loud or inappropriate in her video unless you count phallic sausages as inappropriate (and I do not). She does not seem all that southern either.

    Russell Jackson, 49, SF, culinary school, underground supper club. He is a modern day warrior and he has the hair and the arms to prove it! He is a hybrid of aggression and love! I am not sure what “subculture” dining is but he seems very proud of it. He has a tragic childhood story too! He lost ICA Battle Rhubarb to Jose Garces. It was the best night of a very bad year. When losing is the best night yes that is a bad year! He has a very comfortable camera manner but I think Susie is definitely going to tell him he is too scary! He aims for scary on purpose! But if an underground supper club and a Mohawk are the scariest things he has I do not think he is scary at all.

    Daniela Perez-Reyes, 29, Hawaii, born in Peru, culinary school grad, Peruvian/Polynesian twists, caterer. She wants to be hot! Her main selling point seems to be that she is not a grandma with a rolling pin! She has a “sassy personality” and talks with her hands and the Art Institute did not like that! And she has a lot of speeding tickets! She has a wonderful voice! And she is single! She will take over the role of Fiery Latina from Martina for this season!

    Lovely Jackson, 27, LA, from Chicago, glam food, culinary school grad, private chef. Glam food? Party food! Her name is Connie but her family teased her, “You think you are so lovely,” so she is Lovely. She has diamonds on her knives and serves edible diamonds and diamonds on the soles of her shoes – oh no that is Paul Simon – she puts rose petals on the plate! I would complain if I had flowers on my plate so I guess I am not glam. I do not know if she can cook but she has Brand written all over her! She even has an acronym: CLT, the Chef Lovely Tip! She has a strong presence. I think Susie is going to tell her she is too strong.

    Nikki Dinki, 29, NYC, semi-vegetarian. She has been studying Sandra Lee! Her shtick is Meat on the Side which sounds like… oh never mind you know what it sounds like! The point is she has two names for what she does and she needs to pick one! With a name like Nikki Dinki she is on thin ice already! But her pitch is good to cut down on meat without going full vegetarian and FN loves slogans!

    Rodney Henry, 47, Baltimore, pie shops, former rock musician, out first on Chopped, lost the Quiche Throwdown. He is a little old for a rock star. He used to sell pies on his rock and roll tours and now has pie shops. On Chopped he was on the Halloween episode and made chicken feet (!) that tasted like pie so he was chopped first! I think if you make chicken feet that taste like pie you should get a prize! He knows who Charles Bukowski is so that means something but he is too determined to prove he is still cool.

    Viet Pham, 34, SLC, born Malaysia, culinary school grad. He owns Forage and it sounds like one of those restaurants that took off after Noma started using weeds! He has a serious sob story starting in a Malaysian refugee camp you can not top that! He was Food & Wine Best New Chef! A James Beard semi-finalist! He beat Bobby Flay in ICA Battle Ground Beef with Beef Fat Ice Cream so dayum he can cook! He is a clone of Eric Lee from last season! But he says “soignee” a lot and I think it is pretty annoying! He is there I think to give the impression they really are looking for good cooks but of course they are not but it is good he gets some publicity!

    I am not sure if the setup is the same but Giada, Bobby, and Alton are mentors again, with Susie and Tusch as final judges. And a focus group! Wow, cool, with those high-tech dials from the 80s! And they liked the Last Chance Kitchen from TC so much (who liked it from Survivor so much) they now bring someone back in after they are cut. Here is what is not in the promo material: the guarantee of the show! I will be honest: if the TWoP people did not point this out I would not have noticed. Maybe that is what they are counting on! But maybe the title of Food Network Star is all the winner gets! They have not done terribly well generating shows this way after all. When Guy Fieri is your big success story you need to reconsider what you are doing!

    I am Tanned (no, I am not)! I am Rested (I am not that either)! I am Ready (that I am) for the train wreck! I will be back on Tuesday or Wednesday with a recap of Episode 1!

    Sunday with Zin: Literaria – Contranyms

    Hello I am Zin and it is time for Contranyms!

    For the week of March 18 the Wordsmith “A Word A Day” theme was Contranyms! These are words that have opposite meanings and you just have to know which meaning is meant in a sentence! Sometimes they are called “autoantonyms” and sometimes they are called “antagonyms” and sometimes “contranym” is spelled “contronym” but do not let the charming inconsistency of language that reflects the human mind distract you from the fact that some words mean exactly the opposite of what they mean!

    You do not believe me, do you? I will show you:

    The word “secrete” is a perfectly fine word and if you come across it in a medical or biology setting it probably means “discharge.” Like the lachrymal glands secrete tears or the stomach secretes digestive acids (I am sorry if this seems disgusting but it is ok it is over now). The word did not start as a verb it started as a noun “secretion” in the middle of the 17th century which is about the time biology and medicine started waking up in the Renaissance! Latin was what all educated people knew back then so it was from the Latin word secretus which means “having been separated” and that makes sense if you think of tears being separated from lachrymal glands. “Secretion” was such a cool word it became a verb!

    But what about the other “secrete”? Where has it hidden away?

    I think if I am reading my OED correctly that the word “secrete” meaning “to hide away” is a variation of the verb “secret” which was around in the 16th century but quickly went obsolete. I think maybe it did not so much go obsolete as add an “e” and become “secrete” in the same sense!

    This is interesting since here is the same word with two meanings and they came from different places except they really have at their heart the Latin root of secretus! This is pretty scary but it is again how language reflects people and people are often contradictory and confused! I think it does kind of make a sort of sense though because if the lachrymal glands secrete tears those tears are kind of hidden from the lachrymal glands yes? You have to really want it though!

    So here I was thinking I would have to do a Literaria post on Contranyms when what do you know within a month suddenly Salon reprinted an article from The Week all about Contronyms! I think maybe Judith Herman gets the Wordsmith mailing too!

    She includes fourteen words like:

    Oversight: to watch over something or to overlook it! This may be why Senate Oversight Committees sometimes overlook when they should be supervising!

    Cleave: To cut apart or to cling together! Hint: if you are told to cleave to someone the “to” gives it away and you should not chop them up because you do not “chop to”!

    My very favorite contranym: Sanction!

    Sanction confused me for decades! Sanctions on countries we get angry at but some sports like skating sanction certain events meaning they are acceptable! The Eiger sanction was a punishment but the President will not sanction use of military force! What is going on here? It is so confusing and I think I was in my 30s before I realized it means both things and you just have to figure out which is meant. Typically the noun version means a punishment, and the verb form means an approval, which could be a way of getting around contranym status since it changes parts of speech but I found out there are verb forms for both.

    This is why I love words because they do not sit still and behave but squirm around and you get to figure out ways to live with them anyway!

    Sunday with Zin: The Books Artists Make

    Sissy Buck: "Inextricably Woven"

    Sissy Buck: “Inextricably Woven”

    Hello I am Zin and what could be better than books and art? Bookart!

    These were not illustrations for books or books about art or books containing art but books as artists conceive them so they are not traditional books they are art pieces! This was an exhibition of the students from the Kate Cheney Chappell ’83 Center for Book Arts at USM!

    This was part of the Portland First Friday celebration for April and happened the same day as the Edible Book Art Festival! I could not find many pictures online so I had to rely mostly on my own pictures which are not great but they may give you an idea of what happens when artists create books and reading them becomes part of an artistic statement!

    Some of my favorites were by Sissy Buck who did the piece in the header photo. She also made a piece from her series “Fitting Words:”

    In this series, “Fitting Words”, I have used the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles that I have done over the years (in varying degrees of completion) for my imagery. By enlarging the crosswords and printing them in layers of different colors using Xerox lithography, the abstracted images take on a different meaning and quality…another riddle or puzzle.

    I love the NYT Sunday puzzles and no other puzzles will do! I photocopy them every week at the library so this was a convergence of all sorts of great things for me!

    Artist Rush Brown also did a piece called “Susie Dancing” which I liked a lot it was like a cutout mural hung across the wall! He said he was the only man in the workshop at the time! I wonder why women are more interested in making books as art objects than men?

    Many of the books took unusual form! Cynthia Ahlstrin made “Without Consent” which was an actual book turned into a shoe and because of the title hints at a very interesting story! In an “introduce yourself” video she talks about “getting away from rendering what you actually see and it becomes more of a conversation between the layers” and yes this piece did that! She also made a piece about a shoe and books that won an art show titled “Every Shoe Tells A Story” which is very clever!

    Bonnie Faulkner is a glass artist but she played with book art and made “The Journey’s Angst” which was more of an accordion shape out of paper.

    Libby Barrett (who has a fantastic website of wonderful book art where each piece is amazing) made “Summer Day” which is also like an accordion shape with haiku. Libby also made a wall hanging “30 Days” a wall book of postcards for a month!

    I wish there was an album of professional pictures for all the pieces because many of them were wonderful! Elizabeth Berkana made a book out of playing cards and Tessa Jeffers made “Little Gold Dress Book” which was a dress made out of the folded pages of a book! Catie Hannigan made a weaving on one page with “I don’t think about you” on the other page! That was brilliant! Susan Colburn-Motta made a wonderful piece titled “Leaf Floating on Water” and she makes a lot of book art but I do not have a picture so you will have to take my word for it or keep an eye on the Center for Book Arts for their next exhibit or workshop!

    Sunday with Zin: Edible Book Festival

    Hello I am Zin and I am back from my vacation! I hope everyone missed me!

    While I was on vacation (and I did not really go on an actual vacation I just took a few weeks off from Sunday with Zin) I went to the Edible Book Festival at the Library!

    I had a lot of fun with this last year and I did try for a while to come up with an entry but last year the guy who did the Banana Kareninut Bread with the little smashed banana Anna on the train tracks intimidated me especially since the year before he did Beer and Loathing in Las Haggis the year before and set a very high bar! But he was not there this year which was sad. There were other wonderful things though!

    Pi(e) was very popular this year! The winners for both the Children and Adult divisions were about pi(e). But they were very different kinds of pi(e)!

    A nine-year-old girl won for “Lord of the Pies” complete with broken eyeglasses and a pie-dough pig head bloodied with strawberry-rhubarb juice! I voted for it because I could not help but vote for it, but I was surprised other people voted for it! And I was most surprised that nine-year-olds are reading Lord of the Flies! She must be very special and I think her parents are probably very special too!

    The adult winner was for Life of Pi which of course featured the life cycle of a pie arranged in a circle from the apples and flour to the completed pie! She had to put warnings on one pie to say it was not baked and should not be eaten (we were allowed to eat everything after the judging so taste was not a factor at all). But I had a soft spot for the book and she was clever so I voted for her too! I am so surprised I voted for the winners in both divisions!

    Stinky Cheese Man came in third maybe not because it was such a cool rendition but because it is such a cool book! It is a Post Modern Book of Fairy Tales and right there I wonder if I have become so very old, that children are reading post-modern literature! But it is very funny and I enjoy watching the video because I like all that meta stuff! I wish we had meta fiction when I was little!

    One of the prettiest entries was Gingerbread Man and it won a prize too. It was a very well-done gingerbread house book!

    I voted for an entry that was not very pretty and did not involve any baking or really any food work at all but I appreciated the sign that accompanied it: it was an ordinary fruit salad in a plastic tub from the grocery store with a little note:

    Literary Fruit Salad
    One Pound of Cantaloupe, Ezra Large
    one Sun Dried Raisin
    A Half Cup California Grapes, Imported from Oklahoma
    Five Small Peppers
    One Diced Mango from South America (I think maybe it should be Mexico but I could be wrong)
    Peach Jam from Giant Peaches

    Now I have to come up with ideas again for next year! I still have this idea to actually make a book out of fruit leather and licorice laces and maybe big bars of chocolate. Except I probably will not but it does not hurt to think about it. It is always fun to see what people come up with.

    Zin is on Vacation!

    Hello I am Zin and I am taking a vacation from blogging! Everyone should take a vacation once a year right?

    I have too many ideas and no time to actually do any of them so I will not be posting for the next few weeks or maybe a month but then I will be back with more Literaria and next weekend is the Edible Book Festival and I will tell you about that too when I get back and other things as well.

    Sunday with Zin: Naked Shakespeare

    Hello I am Zin and on February 1 Shakespeare went Naked! And I watched!

    Naked Shakespeare is a performing arts group in southern Maine that performs Shakespearean sonnets and brief scenes from his plays in everyday places like taverns and summer fairs without costumes or lights or scenery or even a stage! They just show up and speak! It is pretty remarkable! On February 1 as part of the First Friday festivities here in Portland they took over the Atrium of the library for a performance. It was quite strange because the Atrium is very small, it is maybe 30 feet wide, and people were sitting on the floor and wee littles were crying and people were coming and going and the actors never got distracted! It was amazing to watch them keep focused on what they were doing!

    They had a special challenge because they were in the middle of the floor with nothing but a bench and people were lined up against both walls and the ends, so it was like they were in the middle of a rectangle of audience! They had to keep moving around so everyone had a chance to hear and see them up close and all of this was improvised which I think is pretty impressive when they are also performing Shakespeare!

    Because of the time of year the theme was “Will You Be Mine” and the works were about love of all kinds from the love sonnets and the comedies to of all things King Lear and Cordelia! That was my favorite because the actors were really good! When Lear entered I think the whole audience was worried the actor was having some kind of medical problem he was so convincing!

    I took a video recording of the Sonnet 29 (“When, in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state…. Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
    Like to the lark at break of day arising…”), a short scene from Measure for Measure, and a longer passage from Troilus and Cressida which I have never read or seen before. Because the actors were sometimes two feet away and sometimes fifty feet away the sound is a bit odd but it gives an idea of the very un-Shakespearean setting! At least un-Shakespearean as we are used to seeing Shakespeare performed now.

    Good words and good performers work anywhere!

    Sunday with Zin: The Sing-Off Is Back!

    Hello I am Zin and it is my Blogging Birthday! I started Sunday with Zin one year ago and I am very proud that this is my 52nd post and I did not miss a single week!

    I got a wonderful Blogging Birthday present this week: The Sing-Off is coming back!

    I was so sad that it was cancelled last year I did my own six-week a capella tribute at Christmas and it was a lot of fun but I would rather have had the show! It is really strange we were just talking about this and that same day I discovered it had been renewed for this Christmas! Maybe I should start talking about how disappointed I am that Google Reader is being cancelled and they will bring that back too.

    History lesson: The Sing-Off started as a surprise! I did not even know about it until the night it started four years ago during the week before Christmas! Since most of the groups were from colleges (that is where the a capella is) it was filmed over the summer but most of the competition was aired in December with a finale just before Christmas and it was so wonderful, so special, like a little Christmas present during a time of year when no one is watching television!

    The next year they expanded it a little and we started blogging it (I did 2011, I was not blogging in 2010) because we loved it so much! The third year they made a mistake and turned it into a full twelve-week competition but even though they had some wonderful groups (including my beloved Pentatonix) it did not do well I think because the specialness was lost. It was just another singing competition!

    So it seems they have gone back to the original short format for the Christmas hiatus and that is a good thing! Mark Burnett will be the producer which makes me a little nervous because he does things like Survivor and The Apprentice that depend on viewer manipulation and suspense and that is not at all what The Sing Off should be. A lot of people think he has done a good job with The Voice which I have never seen (I think the chairs are gimmicky) but I hope it means he knows how to present music without getting in the way. They had better bring back Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman!

    I watched some of the Chinese version last year and discovered some cool new groups! Maybe someone noticed that a lot of people were paying attention to Chinese songs. The article says they never actually cancelled the show they just did not pick it up for last year and I am glad they decided it was time to start again.

    They are casting right now so if you are in an a capella group or know someone who is you should hurry!

    Sunday with Zin: Portmanteau!

    Hello I am Zin and it is time to portmanteau!

    It may seem strange that a suitcase has become a literary device but if we break it down step by step it is not so strange!

    The word started in France in the sixteenth century as the title for a “court official who carried a prince’s mantle” and was formed from the verb “porter” which is “to carry” and from “manteau” which meant “cloak” so this makes perfect sense so far right?

    Very soon it came to mean a case or travelling bag like would be carried on horseback (and sometimes it was very specific about how it opened or where the hinge was but we will just call it a suitcase) so now we have gone from a person to a thing: an idea can not be far behind!

    We can blame it on Lewis Carroll! He decided that since the idea of a portmanteau was to pack things together it would also be a good name for a word that packed two words together! In Through the Looking Glasshe made up his own words in Jabberwocky then had Humpty Dumpty explain them to Alice a couple of times:

    Well, “slithy” means “lithe and slimy”. “Lithe” is the same as “active”. You see it’s like a portmanteau — there are two meanings packed up into one word….
    . ..Well then, “mimsy” is “flimsy and miserable” (there’s another portmanteau for you).

    Word people have been playing with portmanteaus – portmanteaux? Wait we have another problem! What is the plural of portmanteau?

    It depends! Some people think that because it is now an English word it should follow the English custom of adding the “s” to make it plural and some think it should be spelled with an “x” to show that they are sophisticated enough to know that in French an –eau ending takes an “x” as the plural! I will confess that I like the “x” but I am not trying to convince anyone that I am sophisticated (because that would be just wrong not to mention futile) or that I know French (though I did take two years in high school but all I remember is how to ask how to get to the library and if it is not straight ahead I will not be able to understand the answer)! I just like exes (x-es? Xs? See how much trouble you can get into thinking about words).

    Pop culture and fanfic has taken portmanteaus very seriously in creating names for couples like Billary (remember the Clintons? Come on it was not that long ago!) and the ever-popular Bennifer and it seems Glee fans make a team sport out of this! My favorite is the Puckleberry Finn for the love triangle of Puck, Rachel Berry, and Finn. I finally gave up on Glee but I still like the portmanteau name!

    benelux-logoOn a more academic note there has always been Benelux for Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxemborg which even has a flag though it is not a country! The design even won a Phrase Shift Key Award which seems to have something to do with amateur radio enthusiasts or maybe it is a joke but it is done with such a straight face I can not tell!

    What made me pick Portmanteau as the Literary Device of the Day? After all it is pretty common and I wanted to do uncommon words! Well I saw an article by Simon Akam in Slate just the other day railing against Bridezillas and the popularity of “neolexic portmanteaus” which is just a fancy way of saying new words that are portmanteaus and his complaint is that they are not accurate puns since the new first halves of the words do not rhyme with the old first halves! I think he is confusing me! Portmanteaus are not puns! They can be but they do not have to be! So why complain that they are not? But complain he does!

    One erudite friend of mine suggests that the current crisis in American wordplay can be traced back to the Watergate scandal of the 1970s and the subsequent tendency to append any scandal-related noun with the suffix -gate. Before Nixon fell, my friend suggests, “All American puns rhymed perfectly and snappily, as if the whole country were a Cole Porter musical.” While this may not be precisely accurate, it is true that in the United States puns have come in and out of favor over time.

    I think he taking up the Andy Rooney mantle of curmudgeonry to complain about this! Oh, wait, that would make him a portmanteau! But only in the sixteenth century!

    Sunday with Zin: Everyone Should Know About Vi Hart

    "You Are Safe Here" - Vi Hart

    “You Are Safe Here” – Vi Hart

    Hello I am Zin and I am very happy to see that Vi Hart is branching out even more and bringing her clever video approach to address more personal issues!

    I first discovered Vi in connection with Khan Academy! And now she is featured on Brain Pickings in an article about her latest video about dealing with trolls! No not the fairy-tale characters but the contemporary trolls who leave mean messages and tell you how bad your video (or blog post) is! She also has a wonderful video about making videos (“They Became What They Beheld: Medium, Message, and Youtubery”)! And then a video about making a video about making videos! Can you see why I love Vi Hart?

    You can check out her YouTube channel and I will help by listing my own favorites!

    First she did Math and then became the Mathemusician for Khan Academy. But not just Math: Math like the Binary Hand Dance! And it makes sense whether you know about binary or not!

    And my favorite of all time, her story about Wind and Mr. Ug which turns into… well I will not tell you, it will be a surprise!

    I think her crowning achievement in math videos was in her series of videos about Thanksgiving Dinner: Green Bean Vectors (I never realized green beans are like vectors) and Borromean Onion Rings (which is better than a Blooming Onion believe me!) and finishing off with Turducken except it is more like turduckduckhenhenhenhenailailailailailailailail. And she actually makes these dishes! She can bone poultry! This is a multi-talented woman!

    She started doing music with paper instruments then made some part-science-part-music videos! (Folding Time and Space is my favorite! Her website includes instructions for making paper instruments like a recorder and a didgeridoo! I told you she is multi-talented!

    And now she is going into more general topics and doing them just as wonderfully!

    I wish I knew how to drop a bug in the ear of the MacArthur genius grant people so they would notice Vi Hart because she has some wonderful things to say and some very creative and entertaining ways to say them!

    Sunday with Zin: Literaria – Eggcorns!

    Hello I am Zin and I just learned a new literary device: the eggcorn!

    I do not think this is strictly speaking a literary device since it is more like a Happy Accident as my idol Bob Ross used to say! It is descriptive of a particular kind of mistake rather than a language tool.

    The definition, direct from the Wordsmith.org A-Word-A-Day:

    MEANING:
    noun: An erroneous alteration of a word or phrase, by replacing an original word with a similar sounding word, such that the new word or phrase also makes a kind of sense.
    For example: “ex-patriot” instead of “expatriate” and “mating name” instead of “maiden name”.

    ETYMOLOGY:
    Coined by linguist Geoffrey Pullum (b. 1945) in 2003. From the substitution of the word acorn with eggcorn. Earliest documented use as a name for this phenomenon is from 2003, though the term eggcorn has been found going back as far as 1844, as “egg corn bread” for “acorn bread”.

    This week at A-W0rd-A-Day was “Words for Linguistic Errors” and I knew the others like mondegreen and spoonerism but this was a new one! I was very happy to see the “colitis” reference because I spent years back in the days before there was an internet (or for that matter before FM radio was widely used for rock music so you could hear the lyrics better) trying to figure that one out!

    When I was a teenager I read a Readers Digest article (yes, I read Readers Digest when I was a teenager, it was what was in the house) that included a long paean to “daunserly light” as sung about in the Star Spangled Banner: “Oh say can you see by the daunserly light…” The author who I do not remember (this was 40 or 45 years ago!) said he knew exactly the quality of that light: it was early dawn, everything was quiet, and the sky was a little pink with morning clouds. That is pretty evocative for something that does not exist!

    So I actually knew about eggcorns a long time ago, I just never knew they had a name!

    You can get daily emails from A-Word-A-Day with interesting words too! It is free! And they do not pester you with other things. I also get the OED Word of the Day, it is a lot of fun too! Sometimes they will be very common words but usually they come up with things like pogonotomy or pant-hoot.

    By the way there is no such thing as a malamanteau (™ Randall Monroe of xkcd) but I think there should be!

    Sunday with Zin: Keep Calm and Turn the Page

    Keep Calm and Turn the Page!

    Keep Calm and Turn the Page!

    Hello I am Zin and this is a story that has a sad beginning but a warm and hopeful middle and I believe it will have a happy ending!

    You probably know we had a big storm here that started on Friday, February 8 and went for two days. Maine got a record snowfall of 31+ inches! We had the usual problems we have with snow. But Longfellow Books, my Fiercely Independent Community Bookseller, had some extra problems beyond too much snow!

    First the storm blew in a window on the second floor of the building above the bookstore and snow blew in and melted and dripped through the ceiling into the bookstore!

    Second, the pipes in the building froze!

    Third, because the pipes froze, the sprinkler system went off and water sprayed all over the books!

    This set off all kinds of alarms but there was a blizzard out there! So it took time for the store owners to get there and I am surprised they were able to, but they were, and the fire department was there already, they had broken in the back and covered some of the books with tarps and were carrying books out of the store to save them! Firemen saving books!

    “It was a reverse ‘Fahrenheit 451,'” Bowe said, referring to Ray Bradbury’s 1953 science fiction classic, in which books are outlawed and burned by firemen.

    That sounds like a book person!

    About half of the 30,000 books were ruined! They hope insurance will pay for most of that but they have also been closed for a week and they expect to be open only sporadically for at least another week!

    But like the sign in the window says: Keep Calm and Turn the Page.

    That sounds like a book person, too!

    This bookstore was voted Portland Icon in 2012 so Portland is helping! The Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance has arranged two events and a third way to help:


    First, a Cash Mob on Saturday, March 2, for people to show up at the store and buy books! They can also buy Great Flood 2013 Gift Certificates for later on if they do not need any books right now! I know I am going to need some books later this year so I think I will get one!

    Second, a Panel Discussion at the wonderful SPACE Gallery on Sunday, March 3: FLOODED: An Outpouring of Literary Conversation in Support of Longfellow Books! Richard Russo and Monica Wood will talk about memoir, and Ron Currie Jr. and Bill Roorbach will talk about fiction – all Maine writers, all who have given readings and talks at the bookstore in the past, three of them I have read, two of them appear in this blog! I have my ticket already! I bought it when I got the email announcing the event! And it is a good thing because three days later it is sold out!

    Third, MWPA is collecting donations by PayPal and check until March 15!

    It sounds crazy to give a donation to a private business but a retail business especially one as tenuous as a bookstore that must close for two weeks needs help and they are part of the community and hold so many wonderful events for free we must do something! The bookstore has been getting calls and Facebook queries asking how people can help so now they have three concrete ways to help!

    The two owners Chris Bowe and Stuart Gerson were employees at Bookland (I did not know that) which was the bookstore that went out of business 13 years ago (I remember that) when Borders opened in South Portland so look who is still standing! They have held it together this long and they are not going to let a storm get in the way:

    “Never underestimate the power of an independent bookstore,” [Bowe] said. “We have survived the chains. We have survived Amazon. We have survived the Kindles. The bookstore is one of those good places in the community. We will struggle, but we will get there.”

    Again that sounds like a book person and I believe him!

    Sunday with Zin: Euphony

    Hello I am Zin and you never know where devices will take you!

    What do you think is the most beautiful English word? Love? Money? Mellifluous?

    How about cellar-door?

    No, I am not crazy! Well, of course I am, but not about this! Cellar-door (and we will allow it as a single hyphenated word to keep things simple) is often cited as the best example of euphony which is the Device of the Day: when words have a pleasing sound!

    My search for euphony led to an "On Language" column "Cellar Door” by Grant Barrett from February 11, 2010, and to the cellar-door. It seems this is a famous decision, to name this unassuming phrase the fairest of them all, and a dubious one at that! At least I think so! But they are talking about purely sound, not meaning!

    Mr. Barrett in his wonderful article traces the history of the rise of cellar-door to its position of prominence. And it takes some peculiar turns: from H. L. Mencken in 1920 to Dorothy Parker in 1932 to J. R. R. Tolkien in 1955 to the 2001 movie Donnie Darko where a teacher tells Donnie (a crazy teenager with a psychotic imaginary rabbit friend):

    This famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that ‘cellar door’ is the most beautiful.”

    But what famous linguist said this????

    No one! The earliest reference Barrett found was a 1903 novel, Gee-Boy by Shakespeare scholar Cyrus Lauron Hooper:

    He even grew to like sounds unassociated with their meaning, and once made a list of the words he loved most, as doubloon, squadron, thatch, fanfare (he never did know the meaning of this one), Sphinx, pimpernel, Caliban, Setebos, Carib, susurro, torquet, Jungfrau. He was laughed at by a friend, but logic was his as well as sentiment; an Italian savant maintained that the most beautiful combination of English sounds was cellar-door; no association of ideas here to help out! sensuous impression merely! the cellar-door is purely American.

    Now wait just a minute here: does this mean that truly brilliant people like Mencken and Parker and Tolkien have been taking the word of a fictional Italian savant? Or did Cooper take it from a source that has been lost to history? I can not even find any information about Mr. (or Dr.? I do not wish to be rude or improper but I do not know!) Hooper, other than a number of editions of Shakespearean plays he edited in the early 20th century! Maybe he made the whole thing up as a joke!

    I suppose we will have to wait until we find a cellar-door portal to another time dimension! Until then, the Cellar Door Theatre Company in London will have to keep the flame alive!

    Sunday with Zin: Un-STRIPPED!

    Hello I am Zin and we all were UNSTRIPPED on February 1!

    Rewind: last summer my friend Jeanne Holtzman (hi, Jeanne!) sent me a copy of STRIPPED, an anthology with a twist! The names of the authors were stripped from the stories! Editor Nicole Monaghan hoped readers would investigate whether they could tell if the writers were male or female.

    I read the book and did some work to post some background about the project, and a table of my opinion, and that of two online gender analzyers! And now Nicole has posted The Big Reveal matching up stories and authors!

    Here is the good news: I did better than the computers! Score one for people!

    Here is the not-so-good-news: I still did very badly!

    Overall I guessed correctly on 29 out of 47 stories, for a score of 62%. That is only a little better than random guessing which would have been 50%.

    The computers did not even hit 50%: Stevens Institute got 20 of 47 (43%) and the Gender Genie got 23 of 47, or 49%! Ok, I guess you could say Gender Genie hit the 50/50 mark. And Stevens came close.

    I will talk more about numbers but first I want to talk about the stories because I was surprised by some of them! Many I just guessed on, but some I was pretty sure, and I was pretty sure of a couple of authors as well, and I was usually wrong, wrong, wrong! I will put the three evaluations (Zin, Stevens, Gender Genie) in parens, and when I say “we” it means me and the computers in this case. for the stories that are available online, either as text or in a video of a reading, I will make the title clickable.

    The “IT” section: Editor Nicole Monaghan said, ” The stories I put in “It” were ones I felt either had objects as their center or used an inanimate thing to reveal the desire(s) of the character(s) and motivation(s) of the character(s).”

    “Boy-Girl” – Sara Lippmann (F) (MMM): In my notes I wrote, “Male style, female content” and I am not sure what I meant by that! I could not tell if the narrator was male or female, and it is a story about the “poly-gender parade” and “neuter people” and she fooled all three of us so I think she did an excellent job!

    Found Objects” by Tara L. Masih (F) (FMF): This was one of my favorites and I felt it had a clearly female sensibility (even though I am not sure what I mean by “female sensibility”). The protagonist is male, or perhaps in a larger sense the protagonist is the house and “he” is just the most predominant person! I do not think I have read anything else by this author, though I know the name, so I will have to make sure to look for her work!

    The Bear” by Len Kuntz (M) (FMF): In this story the female protagonist, in a uniquely female situation, must make a terrible choice, and it read very authentically to me! Len did a great job!

    “Moratorium” by Sean Lovelace (M) (MMM): I loved this story! It reminds me of some of the flash Courtney Bledsoe wrote a few years ago. We all agreed the writer was male, but here is the twist: until I saw the list Nicole put up, I had thought Sean Lovelace was female! I think I may be mixing him up with another Sean! The narrator/protagonist could be either male or female, but I got a very clear sense it was a man swearing off women.

    Afterglow” by Michelle Reale (F) (MFM): I am not sure why I thought this was male, as I reread it I clearly get female, but that is hindsight for you! It is easy to know the answers once you know the answers!

    Marooned in a Borrowed Mansion” by Kierstin Bridger (F) (FMM): I was the only one who got this right! I am glad because I liked this story a lot! As I read it the first time I thought the narrator was female but then at the end it becomes clear he is male but that might have affected my vote. A house again is at the center of the piece. Houses are interesting characters! I need to consider that more!

    “Cisco” by Darlin’ Neal (F) (FMF): I liked the very clear focus of this story. The narrator could be either but I thought he was male, still I thought it had that undefinable female sensibility to it.

    Sculpted” by Rae Bryant (F) (FMF): I thought the erotic elements read feminine, and I am happy to see I was right! I think the narrator is female but not necessarily.

    “A Conservator In The National Museum of American History Rigged Into a Suspended Harness Floats Inches Above the Star-Spangled Banner” by Michael Martone (M) (MMM): The story is only five words longer than the title! I love that! I was sure either Randall Brown or Robert Swartwood wrote this, but I was wrong. I need to find out more about Michael Martone! There is no reason the narrator could not be female, but it read strongly male to me.

    “HER” – stories where a female character is at the heart of the piece.

    “Momma” by Casey Hannan (M) (MMF): I am not sure why I read this as male, maybe it was all the blood and the knife and Dracula. It is a very female story though. And a good one!

    “Behind the Eight-Ball” by Robert Vaughan (M) (FFM): I went back and forth on this so I am not surprised I got it wrong! It started very male, but the issues were so female I changed my mind.

    ” The Distance Between the Bridge and the Water” by Will Henderson (M) (FFF): He fooled us all! The female protagonist comes through very strongly! Excellent job!

    “Santa Caterina” by Christopher Allen (M) (FFF): Again we were all fooled! I am surprised! This protagonist was really well-written as a very specific woman. Great job!

    ” Jericho Beach” by Gay Degani (F) (MMF): I know Gay a little from Zoetrope and from Smokelong so I am happy that she fooled me!

    “Chips from the Broken Sky” by Ethel Rohan (F) (FFF): It is a beautiful story and something about the banana felt like such a thing a woman would think of!

    “Rosalia” by Gill Hoffs (F) (FFM): I went back and forth on the gender of the writer but I was entranced by this story! It seems to hang perilously close to a “trick” ending that we all get scolded for, but I think it is not, the issue goes deeper than the one detail, it is a matter of what one believes rather than fact. I do not want to spoil the story by being more specific but it is very impressive! I even looked up Gill to make sure the “F” was not a little mistake and sure enough Gillian is female! So even after I knew I wanted to check!

    “Seven Happy Endings” by Ashley Inguanta (F) (MFF): Here is where the computers had an advantage over me, just looking at language without actually reading! I thought the sexual elements and the humor read more male than female, but I was wrong!

    “Gorgo, Queen of Sparta” by Aubrey Hirsch (F) (FFF): Historical flash, maybe a new thing!

    “Eruptions” by Heather Fowler (F) (MFF): Oops! My bad!

    “Go Deejay” by Roxane Gay (F) (FMF): At the time I read this I had not read any fiction by Roxane, only her essays. I am glad I got it right! “I decided to become the girl I normally hate” was my clue.

    The Turn” by Marc Schuster (M) (MNF): I was surprised this was not in the “Them” category since the reaction of the man felt so strong to me, even though the main character is the woman. It is a very interesting story!

    “Porch Light” by Sherrie Flick (F) (FFF): Again we all agreed and we were all right!

    “Love Letter” by Kerri D. Schuster (F) (FFF): And again!

    HIM: the focus is on a male character

    “Limp” by Sheldon Lee Compton (M) (MMM): I liked this, and I felt sorry for the narrator!

    “Almost Ivory” by Randall Brown (M) (FNF): I would never have guessed this was a Randall story! Even though the main character is male, I think the female character is so strong and well-written it became to me a “female” story. Or maybe I just paid more attention to the female character!

    “Life Without Operas” by Peter Schwartz (M) (MMF): I think I read this as male because I did not really follow it but liked the structure! This is my habit of thinking of experimental writing as more male, and I need to stop that!

    Grover Cleveland Has It Out With America On the Eve Of His Second Inauguration” by Amber Sparks (F) (MMM): Amber fooled us all! I have enjoyed several of her flashes and I need to get my hands on May We Shed These Human Bodies! This is such a wonderful story and she did a terrific job of writing not only a male but a historical, powerful male and still incorporating a lyric by Don McLean which not everyone will realize! When I read this I immediately thought of Jeff Rose because he sometimes writes about historical characters in a way that is totally authentic but very human but he was not on the list of authors so I knew it was not him but I could see him writing this!

    Jerry’s Life as sung to ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’” by Kenneth Pobo (M) (MMF): What an interesting idea! I have such a visceral negative reaction to the song (which was very popular in my youth and was decried by the people I was hanging out with at the time as being the epitome of raunchiness, which shows you why I stopped hanging out with them) I had trouble reading the story!

    Dog Beach” Jess Charest (F) (FMM): I got a little mixed up in here so I am surprised I got it right!

    “Give Me License” by Nicole Monaghan (F) (FNF): Nicole is the editor of the collection so I am glad I guessed her story right!

    “What Is Best In Life?” by Erin Fitzgerald (F) (FNF): I thought this would turn out to be written by Ellen Parker since it just seemed like something she would do so I got it right for the wrong reason!

    “Hard” by Jeanne Holtzman (F) (FMF): Jeanne is the writer who gave me the book in the first place so I am glad I guessed her story!

    “And the One Guy Turns to the Other and Says, ‘I’ll Trade You Mine for Yours'” by Tara Laskowski (F) (MMM): I know Tara from the Flash Factory on Zoetrope and from Smokelong so I am very happy she fooled us all! This is a very male story! Great job!

    Sniffing Out The Boundaries” by Eric Bosse (M) (FMF): I was very surprised to find this was written by a male but when I look at it I am not sure why, I suppose because it involves children! I really need to keep an eye on my assumptions!

    “One More Thing I Didn’t Do” by Ellen Parker (F) (MFM): I love Ellen Parker so I am glad she fooled me writing a male voice! Good job Ellen!

    Beasts and Men” by Curtis Smith (M) (FMM): Here I was too smart for my own good and that is not something I am often! I thought this was a counterreaction and a woman wrote the most masculine elements she could think of into a story to fool us! So I was fooled instead!

    The Taster’s Last Meal” by Devan Goldstein (M) (FFF): This was a wonderful flash that fooled us all with the subtle emotional element and themes of love and loyalty and betrayal!

    THEM – Nicole placed stories in this section if they “gave a hard look into both male and female perspectives or struck me as portraying their characters as connecting as humans, with gender being less of a focus.”

    “Breaking Tradition” by Nathan Alling Long (M) (FFF): Again I think I was fooled by a child character! I love the play on the word “break” it is a very interesting word linguistically speaking and Nathan has made great use of it!

    “The Ballad of This and That” by Robert Swartwood (M) (MNM): When I posted about this story last summer, I said this was “a very Zin story” and it is, it is the Zinnest story in the book, so I am very happy to find it was written by the “inventor” of “hint fiction!” And surprised! But mostly happy!

    “Locked” by Myfanwy Collins (F) (FMM): I enjoyed this story about religion and I am surprised that the computers read it as male because to me it was very female.

    Waffles and Honey” by J. Bradley (M) (MMF): I thought this was written by Randall Brown! I was wrong! It has that enigmatic echo where the words just feel right.

    “Circling the Flame” by Meg Tuite (F) (FNM): I think this would depend on which character you identify with and I went back and forth on it several times! I got it right by luck!

    “The Breaking Heart of God” by Rusty Barnes (M) (FFF): Again I read a powerfully emotional story as female! Good for you Rusty!

    “Lies” by Pamela Painter (F) (FMF): Now that I reread this, I am surprised I thought it was female since it has mechanics I would think of as male. Well, I should not complain since I got it right but I am not sure why!

    “Emergency” by Mark Nieson (M) (MMM): I loved this story! It is written in the form of a medical chart but the end really works! It is a story that lets the reader write the story!

    Let’s Get Together Again Soon” by Scott Garson (M) (MFF): Scott is a hero of the online flash community for the annual Wigleaf Top 50 List (and Wigleaf just got their first Pushcart Prize, congratulations!) so I was very happy that I enjoyed his story so much.

    Akimbo” by Kathy Fish (F) (FMF): An earthquake through a different point of view! This has some wonderful images and is very sad!

    Here is a chart with all the data from last time, with the names of the authors added in. Correct guesses are in red! I am not sure what to make of all this data (if anyone understands statistical analysis I would love a consult)! I do not see any particular patters, other than the computers did particularly poorly on stories in the “Them” section. I looked at stories we all agreed on: sometimes we were all right, sometimes all wrong!

    This was a fantastic project! More than anything else it has reminded me that we all have underlying attitudes and we need to understand them and recognize them so we know when they are misleading us! And that good writers can write characters who are different from them because that is what writers do! But we knew that already, yes? If you want to know more about how they do it, four participants, still anonymous, discussed the project and how they write in the opposite gender at Necessary Fiction.

    IT
    Title Author (M/F) Zin Stvns GG GG-f GG-m Stv% GG% #wds
    Boy-Girl Sara Lippmann (F) M M M 571 701 61 55 616
    Found Objects Tara L. Masih (F) F M F 390 314 63 55 356
    The Bear Len Kuntz (M) F M F 447 410 57 52 259
    Moratorium Sean Lovelace (M) M M M 146 492 72 77 256
    Afterglow Michelle Reale (F) M F M 528 721 53 58 435
    Marooned in a Borrowed Mansion Kierstin Bridger (F) F M M 593 760 54 56 574
    Cisco Darlin’ Neal (F) F M F 243 182 62 57 244
    Sculpted Rae Bryant (F) F M F 445 214 60 68 232
    A Conservator… Michael Martone (M) M M M 0 30 59 100 27
    HER
    Title Author (M/F) Zin Stvns GG GG-f GG-m Stv% GG% #wds
    Momma Casey Hannan (M) M M F 690 593 62 54 442
    Behind the Eight-Ball Robert Vaughan (M) F F M 475 520 68 52 429
    The Distance Betw the Bridge & The River Will Henderson (M) F F F 972 769 66 56 500
    Santa Caterina Christopher Allen (M) F F F 911 707 68 56 612
    Jericho Beach Gay Degani (F) M M F 1016 898 65 53 598
    Chips From the Broken Sky Ethel Rohan (F) F F F 975 574 67 63 607
    Rosalia Gill Hoffs (F) F F M 632 701 69 53 601
    Seven Happy Endings Ashley Inguanta (F) M F F 888 511 55 63 620
    Gorgo, Queen of Sparta Aubrey Hirsch (F) F F F 1030 865 71 54 610
    Eruptions Heather Fowler (F) M F F 760 538 91 59 580
    Go Deejay Roxane Gay (F) F M F 812 642 78 56 608
    The Turn Marc Schuster (M) M N F 810 392 96 67 294
    Porch Light Sherrie Flick (F) F F F 500 204 52 71 277
    Love Letter Kerri D. Schuster (F) F F F 801 612 73 57 454
    HIM
    Title Author (M/F) Zin Stvns GG GG-f GG-m Stv% GG% #wds
    Limp Sheldon Lee Compton (M) M M M 130 197 60 100
    Almost Ivory Randall Brown (M) F N F 545 438 96 55 497
    Life Without Operas Peter Schwartz (M) M M F 248 191 58 56 218
    Grover Cleveland… Amber Sparks (F) M M M 380 447 64 54 371
    Jerry’s Life… Kenneth Pobo (M) M M F 1032 741 60 58 601
    Dog Beach Jess Charest (F) F M M 459 760 92 62 510
    Give Me License Nicole Monaghan (F) F N F 867 632 96 58 577
    What Is Best In Life? Erin Fitzgerald (F) F N F 764 661 97 54 579
    Hard Jeane Holtzman (F) F M F 1504 567 67 73 623
    And The One Guy Turns… Tara Laskowski (F) M M M 485 742 59 60 685
    Sniffing Out the Boundaries Eric Bosse (M) F M F 215 83 60 72 124
    One More Thing I Didn’t Do Ellen Parker (F) M F M 562 685 54 55 618
    Beasts and Men Curtis Smith (M) F M M 548 687 82 56 591
    The Taster’s Last Meal Devan Goldstein (M) F F F 721 668 57 52 618
    THEM
    Title Author (M/F) Zin Stvns GG GG-f GG-m Stv% GG% #wds
    Breaking Tradition Nathan Alling Long (M) F F F 1019 604 61 63 615
    The Ballad of This and That Robert Swartwood (M) M N M 407 564 96 58 439
    Locked Myfanwy Collins (F) F M M 282 610 63 68 391
    Waffles and Honey J. Bradley (M) M M F 339 131 66 72 92
    Circling the Flame Meg Tuite (F) F N M 549 577 100 51 403
    The Breaking Heart of God Rusty Barnes (M) F F F 606 472 58 56 514
    Lies Pamela Painter (F) F M F 623 345 59 64 231
    Emergency Mark Nieson (M) M M M 9 23 52 72 99
    Let’s Get Together Again Soon Scott Garson (M) M F F 502 222 54 69 201
    Akimbo Kathy Fish (F) F M F 228 152 59 60 230

    Sunday with Zin: Literaria, Part 1

    Hello I am Zin and I have been left to my own Literary Devices!

    I am very Aristotelian! I like classifications! Organization! That may seem strange because
    I seem so disorganized but I am fond of little boxes and spaces where everything fits even if those boxes and spaces are of odd shapes and live in alternate dimensions!

    So of course I love literary terms! All those categories! Each nicely defined! And Latinate (or Greekinate) names for them all! I have talked about apostrophe quite a bit in connection with my Second Person Study (which is not all mine any more, sigh) but there are so many more to have fun with!

    I was inspired to do this now by several things. First: in December Jeff Rose on Zoetrope wrote a humorous story that mentioned a character reading a fictional “French’s Tongue-In-Cheek Guide To Literary Devices” and I so want him to write this Guide, sort of like Ambrose Bierce and his Devil’s Dictionary but for Literary Devices! Jeff is a very funny writer!

    Then just a couple of days ago, my flash-idol Randall Brown posted about his favorite literary device, aralipsis, on flashficiton.net. I did not even know there was a word for this structure! Then I discovered there is another word for it, paralipsis so imagine! I now have two words for something I never knew had even one name before!

    So I thought, I need to bone up on my Literary Devices! I used to know a lot of them but that was a long time ago and I have forgotten. You can follow along! Impress your friends with words like Adynaton and Metonymy! Sure everyone knows about hyperbole and verisimilitude, but have they heard of Hapax legomenon? In fact I will start there!

    Hapax legomenon is not really a literary device! I started the Second Person Study with a story that was not in second person , so I will start here with what is actually a description, not a tool, and I may include other literary terms that are not devices in this Literaria category! Maybe my Aristotelianism needs some fine-tuning! A hapax legomenon is means a word that is only used once in the whole record of a language, or sometimes in the entire body of work or an author, or even in a single text. So it is what would be the tiniest word you get when you do a Wordle! It is a big deal to those who investigate dead languages because the best way to discover the meaning of a word is to see it used in different ways and a hapax does not let you do that! The phrase itself is from the Greek and literally means “a thing said once.”

    We must, each of us for himself, decide what in it represents the best in usage–and what is merely a corruption that has become more or less widespread or is, indeed, a mere hapax legomenon..

    — John Simon, Paradigms Lost


    It also happens to be the title of the Swarthmore College Classics Journal, a book of poetry by Ivan Argüelles, and several blogs. It is too bad I will not be adopting any more cats because I think it would make a wonderful pet name!

    If you have a favorite literary term let me know and I will be sure to include it!

    Sunday with Zin: Best-Sellers!

    Hello I am Zin and my Fiercely Independent Community Bookstore just posted their list of Best Selling Books of 2012!

    logo-transThe Publishers Weekly list had – guess what! – Fifty Shades of Gray and The Hunger Games in top spots across the board and they even said, ” Half of the top 20 bestselling books of 2012 in print were either Fifty Shades titles or Hunger Games titles.” That really confused me – how can two books get ten spots? – but I am easily confused, and both of those had three titles each and also came in a boxed set, plus three separate editions of The Hunger Games (paperback, hardcover, and movie-tie-in edition, for the love of god, we have come a long way since Love Story which was the must-have book/movie of my youth).

    But the #1 Best Sellling Book at Longfellow Books of Portland, Maine was… When We Were the Kennedys which made me very happy since I went to her reading at the library last summer! She also did a signing at the bookstore I think, and she is local and the book is set in Maine and is about her growing up in a mill town after the paper mill shut down, and there is something interesting about a best-selling book about paper mills shutting down! And by the way do you know who supplies the paper for Fifty Shades of Grey?

    The second book on the list, The High Skies Adventure of Blue Jay the Pirate, is also by a Maine author! It is a book for children of course, and I am very happy for Scott Nash, the author and illustrator, as well since he lives in Portland (Peaks Island) and teaches at the local art college!

    There were many other local books of course and some oddball stuff (the Portland Bike Map was #13) but a lot of literary fiction showed up on the list, like The Tiger’s Wife and The Art of Fielding and even Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes and Telegraph Avenue and Cheryl Strayed did very well making the list twice with both of her books!

    How did your local bookstore do?