CSotD: Monday Recipes

I’m mostly sharing this week’s Mo because if Ann Telnaes is going to stick me with this earworm, I’m gonna pass it along like mumps.

I’m sympathetic to vegetarians, but I’m unconvinced by the faux hamburger everyone’s going on about.

It’s not a luxury, but it’s not cheap. I suppose if we all bought it, the price would come down, but so far as I can tell, the advantage is purely ecological. It’s not all that much better for you, except in terms of cholesterol, and while it tastes like hamburger, it doesn’t taste like good hamburger.

It tastes like that extruded crap at the grocery store, which is ground in mass quantities at the meat factories (with whatever low-value trim they are allowed to toss in), frozen, shipped in giant tubes to stores, then run through a second grinder so they can label it “fresh ground.”

I’m not a snob, and I’m only a localvore to the extent I can afford it, but I buy my burger at the co-op, where fresh beef – often local – is ground once, giving it a texture and flavor that neither the meat factories nor the faux-meat chemists can match.

And I’m willing to go by the health experts’ advice that you confine your meat to a piece the size of a deck of cards, though it seems any hamburger I didn’t make myself is not only oversized but then topped with bacon and cheese and enough extra fixin’s that you’d have to be able to unhinge your jaw like a python to bite into it.

Which doesn’t matter because the first bit of pressure on the front side makes it all slop out the back.

And, by the way, even before Frances Moore Lappe explained the whole grain-vs-grazing land use conundrum, we had the goddam sense not to eat bacon, which is just nitrates and nitrites and salt and fat.

Goldarn it.

What the hell’s wrong with you people?


And another thing

Pearls points out a truly bizarre language shift in sports.

I remember waiting to see who the Sporting News had declared the “Hero” and the “Goat” for each World Series game, and when people started calling Tom Brady “the Goat,” I was more than perplexed.

It’s not just the Sporting News usage; it’s thousands of years of scapegoats. “Goat” has meaning.

And now it has a new meaning.

Well, bad means good and, besides, we’re talking sports, which has its own verb tense, the Speculative Past Present, mostly used during replays: “If he catches that ball, they’d have been back in the lead!”

Still, Thursday Night Football managed to get through an entire Jacksonville game last week without referring to them as “the Jag-Wires.”

Small victories.


And eccentric usage is not just for jocks. Over in Candorville, Lemont fancies himself a language maven, but “when you think of it” you’ll realize that “up” has a lot more meaning than simply the direction. (Don’t believe me? Look it up!)

I’d round up some examples, but the point is, Lemont is clearly wedded to making up his own eccentric, senseless language rules.

But we can leave it up to him to figure out that he messed up this time.

Let’s wrap it up and move on.


I’m not sure whether Tom Gauld‘s shelf full of writer’s supplies should tie into the above ruminations about language and usage or, perhaps, the further-up discussion of twice-ground extruded beef.

I bought a book back in the 80s, one of those really good magazine articles that got turned into a too-long book in which the author eviscerated best sellers and some critics’ favorites for being examples of what is praised rather than examples of good writing.

His contention was that, between Writer’s Workshops and MFA programs, a sort of cookie cutter pattern has emerged that everyone agrees is “good writing,” a kind of self-parody, but one carried out by different writers working to the same template.

Granted, a little Donald Barthelme or Myles na Gopaleen goes a long way and I don’t think many people really want to wade through “Finnegan’s Wake” or Thomas Pynchon.

But extruded prose lacks both playfulness and life. As Sheridan (Richard, not Phil) put it, “You write with ease to shew your breeding, but easy writing’s vile hard reading.”

We can enjoy the formulaic prose of Mickey Spillane or Ian Fleming the way we enjoy a basket of french fries: Familiar and comfortable, but not gourmet fare nor intended as such.

Ditto with those equally predictable, formulaic best sellers: Like the Colonel’s lady and Judy O’Grady, they’re sisters under the skin.


Speaking of storytelling, Judge Parker appears to have been through a bit of an exorcism, with a couple of weird, distracting storylines being tied up. I’m going to assume that the squirrel found its way out of the RV and we can start anew.

There aren’t a lot of continuing-story strips around and this is potentially one of the better ones.

But it’s a place where a nice basket of french fries ought not to be presented as pommes frites.


Finally, I’m going to have to ponder today’s Lio for a bit.

It’s not a matter of not getting it. It’s a matter of never having thought of it like that.

What with everyone absolutely convinced that everything that could happen is happening somewhere in an infinite number of universes, and that time is only a way to keep it all from happening at once, it’s a little stunning to find such a dissenting concept.

Stunning isn’t necessarily bad, though being “taken aback” can either mean a temporary, unexpected pause or a complete, disastrous dismasting.

As it happens, I was somewhat prepared. Last night, someone was speculating online about objects with only two dimensions, which reminded me of Flatland, an 1884 novella I stumbled across when I was about 11, which was old enough to understand it but not old enough to comprehend it.

I remember being quite taken aback.


And it sure as hell didn’t come out of some writer’s workshop.

11 thoughts on “CSotD: Monday Recipes

  1. The intriguing thing about Flatland is that, even in the book, the dwellers of Flatland know that there’s something akin to a third dimension, but they dont talk about it. They know, for example, that edges fade into the perpetual mist, which is how they can tell one shape from another, and they physically touch as part of social introductions. And yet they refuse to admit that this third dimension exists at all.

    I love the book. One of my pet projects is to do an illustrated edition, portraying FlatLand et al as it would be seen from the narrator’s perspective.

  2. All that writing, and all you’ll get comments on are the last couple of sentences….

    Flatland is a terrific mind-expanding brain-bender, and there are people who’ve spent a lot of the past 135 years figuring out how things could actually work in a two-dimensional world. How could a creature have a digestive system without being split in two? (As I recall, the solution was a series of locks.) How would a simple motor work? (I forget, but someone figured it out.) It’s done in a spirit of fun, but also occasionally reveals some approach or principle that turns out to be interesting in our world as well.

    I don’t mind GOAT as long as it’s capitalized, but admit I was confused the first many times I came across it, too, since it always seemed to be applied to someone who was very good!

  3. Yeah, thanks for the earworm. It’s worse when all you have is snatches of lyrics that keep rolling over and over. I had to find and watch the video to get rid of it, and learned that it was written by Prince. Don’t think I ever knew that.

  4. All the Brits doing the voiceovers for those sports car commercials call them Jag-u-ars .

    Isn’t there a Harry Nielsen song that’s a sequel to “Flatland”?

    Cleveland athletes have been goats so many times I was only slightly boggled when LeBron James was first referred to as GOAT.

  5. Mary,
    You may be thinking of the 1970 Harry Nilsson album “The Point”. The LP had a couple hits, “Me & My Arrow” and “Are You Sleeping?” thanks, I’m sure to the album being turned into an animated TV movie called “The Point”.

    The story followed a little boy named Oblio (and his dog Arrow) who lived in a world where everyone was born with a point on their head, except for Oblio who was born with a round head.

  6. re “I don’t think many people really want to wade through “Finnegan’s Wake” — don’t know that one; did you by chance mean “Finnegans Wake”?

  7. Sorry; that sounded snottier than I meant it to be. Somewhere in there was a joke idea about “hey, the book is long enough already to wade through, so if you had a punctuation mark for every thirteen characters, theat will make it notably even longer.”

    On the other hand, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt I’d gotten enough Myles na Gopaleen, though I like french fries too. (The Plain People of Ireland eat theirs without ketchup.)

  8. If you liked Flatland and were intrigued by 2-D life, you might want to check out A.K. Dewdney’s “The Planiverse”, which gets into the science of it all.

  9. Denny – yes, “The Point” IS what I had been thinking of. And I misspelled Harrv’s name,too. Thanks for the info.

  10. Mary — Er, you should be thanking Richard, rather than Denny. He’s the helpful one; I’m the punctuation snarker.

    (Though I do like me THE POINT also.)

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