1.12.2017

A Sampling of Tipplers

"His was a great sin that invented consciousness. 
Let us lose it for a few hours." 
—F. Scott Fitzgerald

Web find. Attribution unknown.

"Wine is sunlight, held together by water."
—Galileo


Harpo pouring himself a tipple in Horsefeathers (1932)


"Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker." 
—Ogden Nash

Ava Gardener has a more elegant approach (don't know which movie...)


"In wine there is wisdom, 
in beer there is freedom, 

in water there is bacteria."
—Benjamin Franklin 



From the "Dogville" comedies (1930-1931)


"It is most absurdly said, in popular language, of any man, 
that he is disguised in liquor; for, on the contrary, 
most men are disguised by sobriety." 
—Thomas de Quincy

from The Wet Parade, dir. by Victor Fleming (1932)


"Everyone who drinks is not a poet. 
Maybe some of us drink because we're not poets." 
—Julian Symons, Arthur? Arthur!

Alec Baldwin (Jack Donaghy) goes for it on "30 Rock"



"Of the demonstrably wise there are but two:
those who commit suicide,
and those who keep their reasoning faculties atrophied by drink."
—Mark Twain

Elizabeth Montgomery (Samantha) sips a giant martini in the 2nd season of "Bewitched" (1965)


Why are you drinking? - the little prince asked.
- In order to forget - replied the drunkard.
- To forget what? - inquired the little prince, who was already feeling sorry for him.
- To forget that I am ashamed - the drunkard confessed, hanging his head.
- Ashamed of what? - asked the little prince who wanted to help him.
- Ashamed of drinking! - concluded the drunkard...
—Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, The Little Prince

Dean Martin thinks twice in Rio Bravo, 1959

1.08.2017

A Grocery List to End All Grocery Lists

a list of groceries in Chinese, via wiki.prov.vic.gov.au
Lotus root (img: John Vena Produce)
Sweet Osmanthus Wine (img: Yoycart)
Pork belly (img: Highland Farms)













From pp. 85-86 of Jia Pingwa's novel Ruined City (trans. Howard Goldblatt):
Niu Yueqing did not return that afternoon and was still out at nightfall. Around ten, someone came to the compound with a message: Old Mrs. Wang had insisted that she stay the night to play mahjong, so she was returning the favor by inviting Old Mrs. Wang and Wang Simian's wife over the following day. They had both accepted the invitation.

"Am I expected to do the grocery shopping tomorrow morning?" Zhuang asked.

"That's what she said." The man handed him a shopping list.
Zhuang read the list: two catties* of pork, one cattle of spare ribs, a carp, a tortoise, half a cattie of squid, half a cattie of sea cucumber, three catties of lotus roots, two catties of chives, one cattle of bean pods, one cattle of cowpeas**, two catties of tomatoes, two catties of eggplant, two catties of fresh mushrooms, three catties of thick osmanthus*** liquor, seven bottle of Sprite, three catties of tofu, a half cattie each of some Korean side dishes, two catties of mutton, one cattie of cured beef, five preserved eggs, one roasted chicken, one roasted duck, half a cattie each of cooked pork liver, pork belly, and smoked sausage. Also, he needed to bring from the Shuangren fu house a bottle of Wuliangye****, ten bottles of beer, a pack of peanuts, dried mushrooms and wood ear, a bowl of sticky rice, a sack of red dates, and a handful of rice noodles. In addition, he had to buy a can of peas, an can of bamboo shoots, a can of cherries, a cattle of sausage, two catties of cucumbers, one ounce of thin seaweed, and three ounces of lotus seeds. 
"What a pain," Zhuang said.
Jia Pingwa at work, via mychinesebooks.com
* Chinese measure of weight equal to approximately 500 grams, or slightly more than one pound
** otherwise known as "black-eyed beans"
*** sweet, flowering olive tree, also known as "devilwood"
**** literally "Five Grains Liquid," according to Wikipedia, made from millet, maize glutinous rice, long-grain rice, and wheat using a formula created in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 CE)

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6.10.2015

Food as Writerly Inspiration (or not)

What foods inspire the literary muse? Below, find six writers' favorite alimentary stimuli:

In an article for the New York Times called "O Muse! You Do Make Things Difficult!" (November 12, 1989) Diane Ackerman wrote that the poet Schiller . . .
. . . used to keep rotten apples under the lid of his desk and inhale their pungent bouquet when he needed to find the right word. Then he would close the drawer, but the fragrance remained in his head. In 1985 researchers at Yale University found that the smell of spiced apple has a powerful elevating effect on people and can even stave off a panic attack. Schiller sensed this all along. Something in the sweet, rancid mustiness of those apples jolted his brain into activity.
(Full article here.)

Luciana Rondolini, Rotting Fruit (from the Tiffany Project),

Agatha Christie, according to Nicole Villeneuve at The Daily Beast. . .
. . . was so partial to cream that she regularly kept some by her typewriter, to sip while she wrote. As her grandson Matthew remembered, “She used to drink cream from a huge cup with ‘Don’t be greedy’ written on the side.” 
 (Full article here.)

Will Cotton, Persistence of Desire, 3, 2014

Elizabeth Bishop, in an interview with Elizabeth Spires in the Paris Review (The Art of Poetry no.27), talks about her years at Vassar and tells the story of her youthful habit of eating cheese in hopes of inspiring the poetic impulse:
I had a theory at that time that one should write down all one’s dreams. That that was the way to write poetry. So I kept a notebook of my dreams and thought if you ate a lot of awful cheese at bedtime you’d have interesting dreams. I went to Vassar with a pot about this big—it did have a cover!—of Roquefort cheese that I kept in the bottom of my bookcase . . .
(Full interview here.)

Roy Lichtenstein, Untitled (Swiss Cheese Elevator Doors), c1985

Joan Didion, in an interview with Linda Kuel in the Paris Review (The Art of Fiction No. 71), spoke of her habit of reviewing her daily output while having a drink, right before dinner:
I need an hour alone before dinner, with a drink, to go over what I've done that day. I can't do it late in the afternoon because I'm too close to it. Also, the drink helps. It removes me from the pages. So I spend this hour taking things out and putting other things in. Then I start the next day by redoing all of what I did the day before, following these evening notes.
(Full interview here.)

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Hangover, 1889

As Jared Young describes in this story, Michael Crichton did an interview with 60 Minutes in the mid-1990's during which led the camera crew into his kitchen "where he opened the refrigerator door to reveal, neatly organized, a dozen cans of Coke and a shelf of pre-made ham and cheese sandwiches." Crichton then confessed that while working on a book, ham and cheese sandwiches were what he ate for lunch, every day. 

Luis Melendenz, Still Life with Bread, Ham, Cheese, and Vegetables, about 1772

On the other hand, Don Delillo, in an interview with Adam Begley in the Paris Review (The Art of Fiction No. 135), claims to take inspiration not from food but from the lack of it (and all sensory input):
. . . book time . . . is transparent—you don’t know it’s passing. No snack food or coffee. No cigarettes—I stopped smoking a long time ago. The space is clear, the house is quiet.
(Full interview here.)

Wayne Thiebaud, pen drawing
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