Friday, February 29, 2008

A Little Bit Scary

I just went out in the rather wet, slushy snow to buy ingredients for a Maple Pecan Cake from the Key Foods near my apartment and there were news trucks all down the street and police tape around the store. I googled it when I got home and it turns out two of the female employees were attacked today. That's really pretty horrifying. I grew up in one of the safest large towns in America and I often kind of forget that this sort of stuff happens.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This and That (again)

So I've really been pretty busy, but not with things that make very interesting posting. So, you know, feel free to skip over this.

I've been doing quite a bit of cooking of late in an attempt to eat both healthier and cheaper food. I need to save some money. In the last couple weeks I've made:
  • Carrot and Potato Stew with Quinoa: Tasty but too spicy. I think next time I'll cut the spices in half. The quinoa was excellent though.
  • Potato Bread: Yummy! Very fluffy and light.
  • Cranberry Sorbet: Didn't quite freeze right and kind of tastes like canned cranberry sauce in sorbet form.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Kind of tough to mess up.
  • Finnish Rye Bread: Has a nice taste to it but a little denser then I'd like.

Shooting all that money-saving in the foot this week was the escapades in cat ownership. Wendy and I found out that clay kitty litter is strip mined and have been experimenting for the last month and a half with more environmentally-friendly options. We started out with a corn-based litter which was highly disgusting. Then we tried Yesterday's News which was too difficult to clean. I think think we've settled on a yellow pine litter that smells a bit gerbil-y but controls the cat odors well. In between the newspaper and the pine though, I bought this crazy expensive litter (I misread the price) that promised to turn pink if your cat had a urinary tract infection, among other things. So of course it turns pink and we drag both miserable cats to the vet for urine samples. While we were there the vet weighed them and noted that Pyramus had lost a pound. Since he hasn't seemed to be feeling great we got him the full check-up and blood test workup our vet does on FELV+ cats. $550-odd later they're both totally fine and Pyramus has seemed much perkier the last couple days. So much for saving money this month.

I watched The Rocket over the weekend. I thought it was well filmed and well acted--although Roy Dupuis is way too old to play a 21-year-old rookie--but not nearly as captivating as it could have been. I felt like the filmmakers were more worried about stuffing as much as possible about his career than about creating a really solid dramatic structure or a full picture of his life. It's creates a bit of an unbalanced feeling film to me. As a side note, I watched the movie using the subtitles but I did see a bit of the dubbed version and oh my lord is it horrible.

I think that's about all I have to say. This has not been my best post ever here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Diana Vishneva: Beauty in Motion

Well at least the dancers were good. Good performers in work that didn't do them justice seems to have been a theme for my week.

I find Diana Vishneva to be a fascinating ballerina. Standing still she can look kind of, well, knobby and wiry and then she begins to dance and she has such fluidity and strength, such purpose and conviction behind her movement. She's spectacularly beautiful. So I was excited to see her doing her own show. Unfortunately, while I think it's wonderful that she took risks in terms of the choreography she danced, it didn't really show her strengths the way one would have hoped.

The first piece, Alexei Ratmansky's Pierrot Lunaire is by far the most ambitious and, I think, the one that was most tailored to the skill of its dancers. The Shoenberg song cycle is based on commedia dell'arte, which isn't really my thing, and it doesn't seem terribly danceable. Certainly Ratmansky--whose Middle Duet I love, incidentally--didn't set himself an easy task. But without being able to understand the German text of the songs it's essentially impossible to follow the action which doesn't seem particularly organized or musical. Things happen and then other things happen, the dancers play one commedia dell'arte character and then another, and it's all spectacularly confusing. One could survive the inability to understand the text if the choreography seemed to follow its own internal logic, but that's not the case. There's all sorts of interesting movement and Ratmansky is an innovative choreographer, but somehow it never seemed to come together into a cohesive whole this time around. The traditionally balletic movement didn't quite mesh with the more stylized, non-ballet movement. There also didn't seem to be enough differentiation, in the choreography to reflect the changing moods of the poems (as explained in the program). It just kind of mushed together endlessly.

The real shame is that of all the pieces I think Ratmansky's is the one with the most potential to be something more than a pretty or clever dance. There are ideas there. They're just not properly articulated and thus, instead of being fascinating, watching it becomes incredibly tedious. There was a young girl in front of us, small enough that she was sitting on her mother's lap so she could see and in the first intermission I mentioned to Wendy that I was shocked that she'd sat through it so quietly, which is more than I would have done at 7 or so. Wendy said that she was shocked that she'd been able to sit through it.

The middle section, F.L.O.W. (For Love of Women), choreographed by Moses Pendleton, was the most entertaining and the clear crowd pleaser. (Side note: I hate the title.) At the same time though it was divided into three parts and only one of those parts seemed to use Vishneva's particular skills.

In the first part Vishneva and two other ballerinas used their limbs, illuminated by black lights, to make various shapes. The piece started with only one arm revealed and then one arm of each ballerina, followed by one leg (from the knee down) and so on and so forth. Some of the shapes: swans, a tiny ballerina made out two arms and two legs, a larger ballerina made entirely of arms, were interesting. Others were less so. The real issue is that it doesn't make use of Vishneva's talents. It's fun and a bit witty but it hardly requires one of the best and most fascinating ballerinas in the world.

The second part featured Vishneva alone, in a nude colored bodysuit, on a mirrored surface. As she stretches and contorts, her body changing shape, the reflection also distorts. It's the only piece of the three where Pendleton actually uses her physicality, the pliancy of her body, to create something original. It's her body and what she can do with it that matters, instead of what you can do with some black lights of a prop.

The final part of this second section features Vishneva wearing a sort of beaded curtain/dress. As she spins the beads flare out creating different shapes as she alters the way she moves. It's a beautiful effect. It's enjoyable to watch. It just doesn't use Vishneva's particular skills anymore than the bit with the black lights did. There are any number of people who could have done it.

The final piece was Three Point Turn, choreographed for Vishneva and Desmond Richardson and was not much better than the first although for different reasons. Ratmansky was aiming for something interesting and unusual in his choreography. The work wasn't successful but it was ambitious. Three Point Turn was more cohesive and less confusing but seemed to me like a bunch of ballet/modern cliche. And I'm a new dance viewer so I feel like it's a problem when I go to see something and feel like I'm seeing something I've seen too many times before. Particularly when it wasn't interesting the first time.

It didn't feel like there was any modulation in the tone of the piece. All the movement was hard and exaggerated. The whole piece becomes incredibly monotonous. Dwight Rhoden had these wonderful dancers at his disposal and gave them something that is athletic but not much else.

So in the end it was a disappointing evening that really didn't showcase Vishneva. I don't mean that Vishneva needed to be the sole star of everything she danced. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to see other artists featured as well, like Igor Kolb (in Pierrot Lunaire) and Desmond Richardson. But the choreography didn't really showcase them either. It's too bad, really.

All photos were stolen from the New York Times slideshow.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


At least the actors were good. Grace is about an atheist--named Grace, of course--and her struggle to deal with her son's desire to become an Episcopalian priest. Dealing with it apparently means constantly haranguing him about the evils and illogic of religion in a thoroughly shrill and unpleasant way.

I'm not a religious person; I don't believe in God or have a whole lot of patience for organized religion. I think it does more harm than good and is, well, illogical. So in theory I should have had quite a bit of sympathy for Grace. In reality, whenever she went on one of her tirades and/or argued with her son I wanted to stab myself in the ears with my knitting needles.

It's not only that Grace is such an unpleasant character though. It's that she doesn't have anything particularly interesting or insightful to say. Nor does her son, for that matter. One family member wants to live her life by the rules of logic and the other is following a path which even he can't explain logically. There's an good play to be made of that. Unfortunately this wasn't it, and that's mostly due to the laziness of the writing.

There's an overly fussy structure to the play where important things happen off stage, as if it's too much effort to actually show us the interesting bits. What's more, the characters don't seem to have any thoughts that haven't been expressed more eloquently time and time again. At one point the son uses the Matrix as a metaphor. At another point his fiance, Ruth, listens to Ani Difranco's "Untouchable Face" and then explains to Grace that sometimes it's easier for her to use other people's words. Easier for the playwright as well, I imagine, but it sure as hell isn't interesting or illuminating for the audience. I mean, when I was about 15 I loved that song and Ani Difranco--after all, she's pretty much the patron saint of angry teenage girls--but it's not exactly an effective use of her music.

In the end the play takes an interesting topic and doesn't do much of anything with it. The whole thing feels rather thin and convenient. The characters aren't fully realized and so the moments of emotional catharsis leave you cold and the closure they achieve at the end doesn't feel earned. That could be partially excused if the ideas presented in the play were enough to hold it together. Instead though, we're left with regurgitated cliches presented in an uninteresting manner. So really, what's the point.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Today I watched my roommate's favorite Sci Fi movie, which she has been promising to make me watch for the 6 years I've known her. And it was totally awesome. The other stuff I've seen this week probably would have been improved by the introduction of giant ants. Just saying. I would like to note that my very favorite part of this poster is the fact that they put a woman in a slinky bombshell dress between the ant's mandibles when in fact the movie contains exactly no women who wear such clothing in the movie. I'm also fond of the pulpy copy line.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nureyev: The Life

So I wasn't actually planning to read the new(ish) Nureyev biography for at least a little while, but I saw it at the library a couple weeks ago and impulse borrowed. Chalk that one up as a mistake.

I had issues with it both stylistically and in terms of content and think it's, well, not good. I'll start with my stylistic issues since those are rather simpler and smaller.

The first, and I admit it's really a personal thing, is that I hate the constant use of quotations that are unattributed in the text itself. Kavanagh isn't doing anything wrong because they're attributed in the back of the book, but I find having to flip constantly if I want to know who said what thoroughly frustrating. I'd much prefer the names of the people to be incorporated into the text itself.

My other issue is the prose itself, particularly in some of the beginning sections. At the start of chapter four, Kavanagh writes:
Teja Kremke was a seventeen-year-old East German boy with an erotic presence as visible as a heat haze. A student at the Vaganova school, he had shiny chestnut hair, pale skin, full lips, and intense gray-blue eyes--extraordinary eyes whose seductive glint through long black lashes was there even when he was a child.
Ok, so first of all that's some fairly subjective stuff being suggested as fact there, particularly when the author never actually met Kremke in person and is therefore either putting forward the views of others or judging off pictures. Second of all, why exactly is the "seductive glint" of his eyes when he was a child relevant in the first place when he doesn't come into Nureyev's life until he's in his late teens? And third, "an erotic presence as visible as a heat haze"? Really? I know that I tend to prefer fairly spare prose and that's a personal preference but lines like that just aren't good.

That's not an isolated example either. On the first page she describes Lake Baikal as a "sunlit ocean of ice" that seems "to merge with the far-off white mountain ridges of Khamar Daban." No I suppose you could argue that she's setting the scene for Nureyev's birth there but I mostly find myself wondering if one of her interviewees, presumably a child at the time, actually described the lake that way or if Kavanagh is making assumptions and allowing herself some artistic license there.

I could look past those complaints, though, if I thought that the actual content of the book justified my doing so. Let me say before I begin that I don't think she had an easy job. Like Mark Epstein in his Edna St. Vincent Millay biography (which I wrote about here) Kavanagh is faced with the task of writing about a deeply-flawed, formidably-talented individual with a sort of charisma that inspired people to great love and devotion. Now I'm really not comparing the two, but I do think the task of explaining why someone is adored when the reason for that seems to be something outside the realm of words and explanations is a difficult one.

Kavanagh though, doesn't seem much interested in explaining or analyzing though; her focus seems to be relating events, facts, and the opinions of others without a cohesive narrative viewpoint. And sometimes when she does seem to be putting forth an opinion of her own it feel unsupported. For example she writes:
Self-retreat, combined with a mistrust of joking, suspected conniving by "so-called friends," and the violent stomach disorders from which he suffered, can be indications of the schizophrenic process, although friend close to Erik [Bruhn], including the young doctor Lennart Pasborg, insist that he was not psychologically disturbed.
So the people who were close to him claim that he wasn't mentally ill, and she doesn't provide the assessment of anyone else who might have been in the position to know and does think he was schizophrenic. So my question is, why does she feel the need to mention that he had certain attributes of schizophrenia at all? There is no doubt in my mind that many people who are not, in fact, schizophrenic, are in possession of certain aspects of schizophrenia. It seems to me that it's rather irresponsible for Kavanagh to mention it at all if she's going to mention it in such a throwaway fashion in the biography of someone else.

At another point Kavanagh writes that, "the troubadour style of Erik's letters [...] express a language of longing too conventional at time to be convincingly real. [sic] " Not to belabor the obvious here but writing in one's second language can be kind of hard, regardless of how fluent one is in that language. I don't think that Bruhn is well served by the publication of his letters--letters that were meant to be destroyed, I might add--much less analysis of their literary styling.

Which brings me to another point--that of taste and privacy. Often, while reading this particular biography, I felt like a voyeur. I didn't really want to read Erik Bruhn's letters. I didn't feel like it was any of my business nor did I feel like it added to my understanding of Nureyev as an artist to do so. I also didn't want to read about Margot Fonteyn's pelvic floor muscles or intimate details of Nureyev's sex life. Don't get me wrong, it really doesn't bother me that he had a lot of sex with a lot of different people. And I totally understand that sex and sexuality were important to his art as well as his personal life. I have absolutely no quibble with it being dicussed in those terms, but I couldn't help but feel that there was something malicious and prurient about the way Kavanagh presented certain information, or, I should say, about the fact that she felt the need to write about certain things at all. There were more interesting things she could have focused on.

And once you get past his youth, that becomes kind of a theme for me. There are entire sections of the book that read like society pages. The assumption seems to be that these people were rich and/or famous and close to Nureyev so they must be interesting, but that's really not the case. And by focusing so much on them, Kavanagh makes the biography significantly less interesting than it could be. I would have liked to hear more about his dancing from people who saw him in his prime, more from the critics, etc. That was there certainly, but at times it was overwhelmed by the other stuff. If you're going to write a 700 page biography about an artist and pop culture phenomenon, why not trim some of the fat and focus more on that?

Or better yet, why not spend some time providing critical analysis of his importance as both a dancer and public figure? Kavanagh's refusal to do this, instead focusing on his twin obsessions of money and dance with a bunch of sex thrown in there to sell books and make people feel like they're getting the gossip they paid for (theoretically, that is) makes the book seem insubstantial for all it's considerable bulk. For all the incredibly extensive and in-depth research that clearly went into it this biography, in the end, what it gives you doesn't seem all that worth having.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rufus Wainwright at Radio City

So I wasn't actually planning to go to this concert--I was wishy-washy because I was a little cranky his most recent record --but a rather lovely woman on a forum I frequent messaged me last week to see if I wanted to join her (with an extra ticket to sell to my roommate as well) and I couldn't resist. However I feel about some of his songs, Rufus always puts on a great show and has an appealing stage presence. Combine that with the prospect of going with someone I'd talked to frequently online but never actually met and it sounded like a lot more fun then anything else I was going to be doing. And it was. Fair warning: this isn't an organized or insightful review. I'm sick and cranky today.

The opening act was Sean Lennon whose music sounds pleasant enough to the ear in a thoroughly unmemorable and uninteresting way. Of course, I think if I were John Lennon's son I'd just become a banker or something. Beyond that, is it me or is he always dating models with whom he is totally in love and writing songs?

Anyway, there was a break and then Rufus came on with "Release the Stars" in what is one of the ugliest suits I have ever seen. I mean, just really hideous. It was neon green and black and he'd covered it with brooches, of course. I think when the lederhosen is the better look that's probably fairly telling.

Anyway, after "Release the Stars" he played "Going to a Town" and explained his black-and-white flag backdrop. It was fairly inane and cliche so I feel no reason to repeat it here. Later on in the set he talked a bit about his new project to help the environment, BLACKOUTSABBATH. It is what it is, and while I tend to think that if you need to write a list of ways to help the environment and stick it on your fridge you're not all that likely to follow through, but hey, I'd be happy to be wrong. When he wasn't trying to be serious his banter was amusing as always; it's one of the things that makes going to his concerts so much fun.

As for the songs, I was glad that he played a lot of old songs, songs from the Judy Garland show, etc. Most of the songs he played from Release the Stars were tolerable, and the lack of over-the-top orchestrations live didn't hurt. I still think that "I'm Not Ready to Love" is a spectacularly bad song. "Slideshow" came complete with pyrotechnics which was funny--in a good way--because there he is in lederhosen playing a song that isn't really all that rocking and there are sparklers going off like it's a real rock show.

While the show as a whole was excellent, the end definitely outstripped the beginning.

One of the highlights, as it often is in New York, was getting to see him play with his sister and it came with the not-as-common treat of getting to see his mother perform as well. I was pretty much expecting Martha to be there since she's not touring right now and when they're both in the city it seems more common than not that they show up at each other's shows. Martha was wearing a dress that was more like a blousy shirt, but if I had her legs I might wear that sort of dress as well. Kate was wearing skinny jeans tucked into boots and looked very healthy, which was a relieving change after the last time I saw her sing (2006 Carnegie Hall Christmas show). After performing backups on "Across the Universe" along with Lennon, they sang one of my very favorite Kate & Anna McGarrigle songs, "(Talk to me of) Mendocino." It appears on their fantastic first album from the 70s, and then Kate, Rufus and Martha recorded a version together for The McGarrigle Hour, which is an absolutely lovely CD.
As a sidenote, I drove through Mendocino a few years ago and it's a really lovely spot on the California coast and the nearby Mendocino Botanical Garden is well worth stopping at if you're in the area.

After Mendocino, we got "Poses," which is still the best song he's ever written. He then did that thing he's been doing on tour where he dresses up as Judy Garland to sing "Get Happy" this time with his dancing band members dressed up as nuns. Jeff Hill has been playing bass in Rufus's band since, what, 1998 at least so he must be pretty used to be doing these absurd but audience-delighting things at this point. It's probably fun anyway. He finished off the concert with "Gay Messiah," and his band silly-stringing him at the line "baptized in cum." Which, you know, it's not my favorite Rufus song and I don't necessarily think it stands up to repeat listens, but it's a good way to finish off a show.

So in the end, I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to go. It was a fun night with good company and good entertainment. Which is all you can ask for, really, is it not?

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Museum

This post was written Sunday but I didn't post it and I can't be bothered to go back and change the references. Anyway, I went to the New Museum on Saturday.

This week has been one of big decision: blog or play Zuma, eat or play Zuma, go out or play Zuma. Anyway, today has turned cold and nasty and I was planning to go to a CardioSculpt class at the gym but I think I'll just hide in my apartment instead and order delivery from Yummy House. We've actually closed the windows which is not a normal winter action in Casa Paper Boats because building management cranks the heat up something wicked.

Anyway, yesterday it was much nicer out, although a touch rainy, so I went to see the New Museum which has recently moved to Bowery in a pretty eye-catching new building. I was a bit hesitant because while there is certainly is contemporary art that I like, I tend to have an aversion to work that seems far more focused on the concept than aesthetics or craftsmanship and it looked to me like this show would be pretty heavy on that. Which is was. It's not that I'm not interested in concept but I also don't think that it should automatically be favored over being visually interesting and appealing or finely crafted. And more often than not I think the concept is fairly inane or cliche and/or could better be expressed through another medium. And then what are you left with?

Backtracking though. I really like the building from the outside. It's unique and modern looking but at the same time they've done a great job of making it fit on the Bowery. The appearance, particularly from a slight distance, is both gritty and quite beautiful (and I totally love the "Hell, yes!"). The inside is wonderful for displaying art, with large open rooms, skylights, and a rawness that doesn't distract from the art.

After buying my ticket and checking my coat, I took the steps up to the 7th floor where they have an observatory with a "panoramic view" open on weekends. Now, it's neither the most scenic of locations nor the most scenic time of year, but a room with a view is a room with a view.

I then stopped in to look at the education center on the 5th floor but I wasn't sure what that was all about. It looked like they were showing what was on exhibit on other contemporary art museums around the world.

In a stroke of luck, I ran into a free tour just beginning and tagged along with that. Listening in on the tour gave me a chance to hear a bit about both the building and the current exhibit, "Unmonumental." We stopped to look at some things on the tour that I really enjoyed and some things that I really didn't. The clump of buoys hanging together? I tried to understand and appreciate, truly, but I failed pretty utterly. I mean, I open to being convinced otherwise, but I had a hard time understanding how the connection between what the tour guide told us about the artist and the artwork itself made it much more than a bunch of scavenged buoys. Setting that aside though, there were several artists whose work I really enjoyed so I'd like to mention a couple of them here.

For me, the movement and grace of Myth Monolith elevate it above a collection of seating and into a much more enjoyable piece of art. There's a lovely balance to it and your eye moves naturally from one end, up over the arch, to the other end. The texture and pattern of the various chairs creates visual interest as does the complex shadow the structure casts on the wall.

I'm also interested in how this piece works with the "Unmonumental" theme. When you look at it you automatically think of other arches, from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis to the Arc de Triomphe to--this being New York City--the arch in Washington Square Park. The form itself is monumental and has been used to memorialize greatness for millenia, and yet Marc Andre Robinson is using it to create a work of art that is both small and domestic.
And yet, this arch too has a memorial quality, in that it is made up of materials that once served a different purpose. They're chairs that perhaps once stood in someone's living room or beside their kitchen table, that cats once curled up on or that were tilted onto their back legs by the people sitting on them. There's a history there and the chairs carry that history into their new form. But they don't do so in a permanent manner. Instead of stone and steel he is using wood and cloth, things that are no longer doing what they were meant to do and have instead taken on a transitory quality. Anyway, I'm not sure quite what to make of it but I do think it's very interesting.

Whew, I think I just wiped out my critical capacity right there. I'm tempted to just mention the next artist and say, "his work was my favorite," and leave it at that. You guys, I'd be such a shitty critic.

My favorite work in the exhibit was Matthew Monahan's, whose pieces actually do have a bit of a monumental quality to them. Liberator's Retreat, at right, looks quite solid from the front with its larger than life size, the broad torso, long arms, and heavy head.

Like Robinson, though, Monahan is taking a monumental form and subverting it. The monumental quality is undermined by both the materials--wax, wood, styrofoam?--and the fractured grotesqueness that he incorporates into the work. It has bit of a Frankenstein's monster feel to it, no? From the back the seeming solidity of the figure disappears and it seems quite frail, held together with bits of wood. While I don't want to read to much into it, it seems to me the work makes a point about the illusion of immortality in monumental work. Monuments, in honoring a person or place or event, seek to memorialize them for posterity. We build them to last "forever" and in return they tidily allow us to write a certain kind of history and remember things a certain way. Monahan's works in this exhibit seem to call that practice into question.

There were several other pieces I saw and found fascinating, although I was so hungry by the end of my visit that I did rush through a bit more than I would have liked. I think it's a show that's well worth going to and if you're in the New York City area you should give it a look-see.

On a sidenote, while stealing some of these images from a The Showbuzz slideshow, I happened across a picture of Sean Avery at the opening of the new building. Seriously, it's bad enough that I have to see that loathsome scuzzball play hockey from time to time, I really don't need him mixed in with my art viewing as well. I mean, that's just nauseating.


I've been needing new black heels for awhile now because the ones I had are at that point of deterioration where they've become uncomfortable to wear. I've been putting off buying new ones mostly because I'm cheap about that sort of thing but yesterday, before it got too nasty and cold out, I went out shopping determined to find a pair of shoes that I liked and could wear to work as well as out. And I found these, 50% off!

If nothing else, much nicer than my floor, which needs washing--or better yet replacing--in the worst way.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ice Cream!

So I went to Williams-Sonoma Sunday and picked up an ice cream maker, which is a Christmas gift from my parents. I was planning on making my first batch of ice cream yesterday, but I had my book discussion group and then my neighbor was making dinner and invited Wendy and I to join him and his friends which is obviously not the sort of thing one turns down. Or at least I never turn down someone making me food. I have my priorities in place, thank you very much.

Anyway, when I got home from work today I set about making vanilla ice cream. Now I love ice cream, but I don't entirely like knowing what goes into it. I'm using the Williams-Sonoma cookbook and most of the recipes use whole milk, heavy cream, and lots of egg yolks. Meanwhile, it's been years since I even bought anything other than 1%. So forget the heavy cream, the whole milk feels bizarrely thick to me. But whatever. I was going to follow the recipe precisely.

I mean, I have to say, heavy cream, before it's been turned into something delicious kind of grosses me out. Just look at thick and lumpy.

Almost precisely that is. Of course the recipe calls for you to use an actual vanilla bean, and being the good little soldier I am I stopped at Whole Foods on the way home from work because that was the only place I could think of to buy one. And then I saw that they were $5.50 apiece. So I left the vanilla bean at the grocery store and added 1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead. I think Pyramus was being a bit judgey, but that could just be his feed-me-bitch face.

Anyway, I scalded my milk, cream, vanilla combo; separated 6 egg yolks, threw in some sugar and the rest of the cream; and then cooked it all up. Only after creating my custard or whatever it is did I remember that I don't own a fine strainer. So I just poured it through a regular strainer. Hopefully that's cool.

I also never have enough ice cubes to partially fill a bowl, so I went with ice packs instead. Needless to say, I could not have my own cooking show. Can you imagine? Cats on the counter, ice packs that I've used for injuries all over the food...someone would probably call health services on me.

After that I just waited for the appropriate time to dump it in the ice cream maker and let it do it's magic.

It's supposed to at least 3 hours in the freezer before we eat it according to the cookbook. But of course I couldn't just put it in the freezer without tasting it. I don't have that kind of self control. My initial thoughts though are a) it's pretty tasty and has a very rich, sweet flavor b) while it did come out quite smooth I can probably get an even smoother texture if I go buy a fine strainer c) I wanted to try this particularly because so many of the recipes in the book look fabulous and are custard-based, but I actually prefer Philadelphia-style vanilla so I might try making that next time I'm in the mood for vanilla ice cream.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all the whole milk in my fridge. I'm certainly not drinking it.