Friday, November 5

Middlemarch: Unhappy in Rome

After all my (absurd, given the age of novel) complaints about spoilers in Middlemarch, I hope it’s not too annoying for me to let you know that at a certain point in this novel, one of the characters has a chapter devoted to the growing unhappiness of her marriage. Honestly, this is no kind of spoiler because the fact that her marriage was going to be unhappy was known to everyone but her as soon as her romance began – her sister knew, the neighborhood gossips knew, the far superior alternate romantic option in the neighborhood knew, and the reader knew.

Unfortunately for her, she disregarded the opinion of the townspeople. And even more unfortunately, this chapter of marriage unhappiness takes place on her honeymoon, in Rome. By the way, we are back in the time when a honeymoon’s name was more justified; they are clearly on their love-cation for a month, if not more.

Wednesday, November 3

Dinner: Tabbouleh Salad & Homemade Falafel

There's an insane amount of parsley in the refrigerator, so much that finding juice feels like a nature expedition. The good thing is, I now know how to keep parsley -- and other herbs -- usable for more than four days. (Just put them standing up in a glass, with a little water on the bottom.) But that doesn't solve the problem of using four bunches of parsley. So I decided to make tabbouleh.

And then once that was done, it just seemed like making falafel was the next step. J made the falafel mix, and after a failed attempt at frying, we wound up baking them in the oven -- that was way easier, and I can only imagine healthier.

  • Falafel -- And more parsley in the falafel! We skipped the coriander, and if we made it again, I'd punch up the cumin a bit.
  • Tabbouleh -- I used less onion than the recipe. I'd never known that to "cook" bulghur, you just let it soak in cold water, but we did wind up soaking it for more than the hour and a half that the recipe says (but I also overcook pasta, so that might just be me).

Tuesday, November 2

A List: Pronunciation Trouble

These are words I know how to pronounce when I say them aloud, but I say (think?) them absolutely wrong in my head:

Sufjan (as in Stevens)
Jens (as in Lekman)

I know there are more that I'm forgetting. And probably another list could be made of words that I pronounce incorrectly both inside & outside of my head, like "paprika" for just one example.

*I heard someone say this word on NPR the other day and thought "Oh, of course that's how it's pronounced." But I've already forgotten the dulcet NPR-pronunciation. So I'm back to the inner-head pronunciation of in-chote, which can't possibly be correct.

Monday, November 1

Taking a Break -- Jonathan Dee's The Privileges

I took a break from Middlemarch to read The Privileges last week. It is surprisingly easy to put Middlemarch on hold -- not because I don't like it; I do -- but because it's long and while searching for the link in this post I came across spoilers. Can you still call them spoilers if they're about a several-hundred page book written centuries ago?

Anyway: The Privileges. I liked the beginning of this book best, a set piece about the marriage day of a golden couple. There are a lot of great parts to that section: a moment between mother and daughter where the "specialness" of the day is clearly different for the two characters does a nice job setting up the characters.

The rest of the book I liked less -- the characters (lack of) morality and values seemed dull, rather than shocking. That is perhaps intentional, and a reflection of the times, and crimes, we live in.

One part of the book reminded me of a scene in Mystic River (from the novel, but also in the movie). Cynthia hears about a wrongdoing of Adam's and, rather than displaying judgment, tells him she is proud to be married to him, and that, if I'm remembering right, that he is a "man amongst men." Replace names, the crime, and socioeconomic status, and the scene is precisely the same as a "stand by your man" scene in Mystic River.

Is it a flaw in these two women or in me that I can't imagine myself having that response? Is it a little too ridiculous for me to read this type of scene as being a male fantasy?