The Martian, LOTR, Thorin Oakenshield Job

This joke is probably old news to most everyone, but I just watched Oscar nominated The Martian and giggled like the dickens during the Elrond Scene. The scene is almost directly from the novel – which makes it even funnier.

Without further adieu, I’ll just set it up by saying that, in an effort to solve problems in rescuing stranded Astronaut Mark Watney and getting him home from Mars, the NASA bigs hold a meeting to discuss an audacious plan.

For some reason, I don’t think this is the first time an actor in a later film referred to one of his earlier films.  I’ll have to check that out; but something like it  almost happened, and would have delighted  Richard Armitage fans. I squealed with delight when I read the scene in the book, Urban and the Shed Crew where Chop reads The Hobbit to Urban. Had Candida Brady included the scene in the film  – well –  Richard Armitage reading The Hobbit – a book that changed his life twice – I simply love the idea of Richard Armitage playing a guy who’s using the story of Thorin Oakenshield to motivate a kid who can’t read.

The Martian’s director, Ridley Scott, wanted to toss or modify the  Elrond scene, thinking the reference was silly. He was overruled. I wonder if Candace Brady decided to scrap the scene in Urban and the Shed Crew  because she thought it would be silly ( or Maybe Armitage did?). If so, too bad.

I recommend The Martian if you can use about 90 minutes a pure, joyful entertainment with plenty of fun pop culture/comic book references. The end result is never doubted in this movie.

Sean Bean only sort of dies.



Perry says Merry

In 2013, my last Christmas in New York, it was all about The Hobbit and the  egg roll -the Jewish tradition of going out for a movie and Chinese Food. thorineggroll .

Last Christmas was the first I spent living in Mexico, and I hosted a Christmas dinner for about 25 people. It was a good excuse to have homemade roast fresh turkey with trimmings.

This is not the turkey. This was your introduction to Mulligan

This year I’m harking back to tradition. Although we have two Chinese restaurants locally, a group of friends and I are going into Guadalajara for an authentic Chinese-American meal. We’re going to lunch at P.F.Chang, which I’d never heard of before. It’s an international chain but P.F. Chang is not one of the 6,000 Chinese restaurants in NYC, so it’s new to me. I saw traditional egg rolls on the menu. I’m in.


I wish each and every one of you a very Merry something, no matter where you are or how you celebrate, and to you, too, Richard Armitage. I was happy to read that you’ll be home with those you love.

OT: ‘Mach was!’ Oktoberfest in Mexico

The challenge to mach was! (“do something”) for Oktoberfest, comes from fellow blogger, Herba.
I may be past the deadline for Herba’s challenge, but I thought I’d give it a try and figure out a way to do something for Oktoberfest here in my corner of Mexico.

First, I started thinking about beer. I like beer, but I’m no expert. There are a few Mexican beers that I frequently enjoy. Whether they meet any connoisseur’s standard, I doubt – but I like Negra Modelo ( which has a decent write up) better than some of the less hearty beers I’ve tried here, like Pacifico. Of course, Dos XX  and Corona are also readily available. But would just having a glass of beer that I might be having anyway be “doing something” for Oktoberfest? I thought not.

So I looked harder and found that right in my town, there is a local microbrewer, whose beers are easy to find. Corazón de Malta is the name of his label. But when I read up on it, I learned that he was making mainly British and American style beer, so once again, though I plan to try his beer, it didn’t seem like much of challenge to walk a block and have a glass or mug of beer. Moreover, since I know so little about it, what would I be able to say?

Then,  on the main road, La Carretera, I spotted this:


 Johanna’s Bavarian and European Restaurant (with beer garden) seemed like just the something to do.The restaurant is to the left of the banner, where you can see the umbrellas in the beer garden. The beer garden billing is a bit pretentious in my area, since almost every restaurant is at least partly outdoors, though they might have a roof of sorts.

Anyway, I planned a Sunday lunch with a friend to fulfill the challenge.

Mindful of other information I read on line in connection with the challenge, I vowed to keep away from anything schnitzel, since there seemed to be some disagreement among our German blogging community as to whether schnitzel was actually German. I would have skipped it anyway.  I’ve had schnitzel a few times in restaurants in the old German neighborhood of NYC , known as Yorkville.  But schnitzel to me was disappointing, and  nothing more than an ordinary fried cutlet ( though I think it had an egg on it, at least once).

Thinking back on the schnitzel story, I recalled once being very adventurous, or so I thought, when I once ordered chicken fried steak in a Brooklyn restaurant featuring southern food. I’d heard about the dish for years and wondered just what a steak would look like fried in the manner of  chicken.  But when the dish came, it was just another cutlet.  On the other hand, the taste was something that brought me back to my childhood. as it reminded me of a dish in my mother’s repertoire: veal chops that were dredged in matzoh meal and then fried with onions in schmaltz (chicken fat). Hands down, my mother’s dish was better, to me, anyway, than either of the other two fried dishes, and had the singular advantage of not being smothered in white gravy – a sauce that is both unappealing to look at and worse to eat. ( Southern readers – please don’t send hate mail. I don’t care for Bechamel either.)

But back to Oktoberfest. So schnitzel was out.

Except for some obvious choices, I have no way of knowing if some of the dishes on Johanna’s extensive menu are German, whether Bavarian, or not. Choices included a variety of sausages, including the Oktoberfest special ( a huge Brat with a bottle of beer), some trout dishes, a grilled lamb chop, goulash, some salmon dishes and a few vegetarian options.  There was no sauerbrauten, which would have been my first choice. Appetizers included herring, potato pancakes, and home made foie gras pate, along with onion soup and soup of the day.

My companion and I split the foie gras ( sorry – the plate was emptied before I remembered to take a photo) which was absolutely sublime, Bavarian or not.

I passed on the Oktoberfest special with just one Bratwurst ( should have looked at one first)  because I wanted to do something for Oktoberfest, and went for a wurst combination plate, giving me more  to discuss here. Presentation was not too beautiful, but really, what can you do with three odd sized sausages on a plate? ( a little green would  have helped)IMG_20151018_144429

The sausages were identified as Bratwurst (veal) ( the big one), Münchener, (the top one) supposedly a combination of pork and veal flavored with onions and parsley ( a little bland, I thought) and Thuringerwurst, the one in the middle, which in this case was made from veal. This sausage evoked the best grilled kosher franks I’d ever had, maybe as good as the  Nathan’s Famous  my father used to get in a “Frankie Pack” and grill over charcoal.  It was crispy and a little burnt on the outside, and just the right garlic and seasonings inside. As you can see, the wursts were accompanied by portions of sauerkraut, sweet and sour red cabbage and potatoes.

I left over quite a bit and took it home, where I mulled over whether to offer it to Lucas or Mully ( outdoor and indoor cats, respectively), but in the end, I gave it up to Choya, my neighbor’s roof dog.

I would not ordinarily order dessert, but I sacrificed for the sake of this blog post and Herba’s challenge. Plum strudel. I ate around the chantilly cream, just testing it with one forkful, to see whether it was properly made, and it was. That’s a big juicy blackberry on top.

So tell me. I know I did something for Oktoberfest. But, did I have Bavarian, or even German food? What do you think of the menu?

OT: When Translations Don’t Work

I thought I’d share some humor with you.

Before I read the terrible reviews of the new film Pan, I thought I might go and see it at my local theater here in Mexico. I was surprised when I looked up the billboard and noticed that Pan was only playing in Spanish. Except for Mexican films, all movies shown here are shown in English with Spanish subtitles, as well as other showings in dubbed Spanish.

And then I figured it out:

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.16.53 AM

Pan is the Spanish word for bread. And FYI – Rescue Mission also showing, is the film The Martian and Explicit Lyrics is Straight Outta Compton ( It’s not unusual for films to be given different titles outside the U.S.for marketing purposes that I only sometimes understand – the was no confusion about El Hobbit: La Batalla de los Cinco Ejercitos

Still, I think I’ll pass on Bread

OT: Farewell to one of my favorite authors – E.L.Doctorow

New York Times Obituary

Not two days ago, I recommended one of his books to reader on Me and Servetus.

I can recommend just about every one of his books.  Reading The March was a fantasy come true for me -a favorite author  brilliantly writing about a favorite subject and a favorite historical figure. If Woody Allen directed Richard Armitage in a film about New York, it couldn’t get better for me.

But I also loved Water Works, The Book of Daniel, Loon Lake and World’s Fair.

It’s difficult to describe, but his works have the discordant characteristics  of accurate historical fiction and nonsense, or magical realism, all in the same text, and masterfully structured with beautiful language,

Farewell, E.L. Doctorow, and is there an unpublished or unfinished work? I can’t believe it’s over.

OT:Supreme Court Upholds ACA (Obamacare) Subsidies, 6-3

ICYI, I think the decision speaks for itself. The syllabus is helpful in understanding the broad issues. The gist of the underlying problem is that the wording of the ACA, can be read in such a way as to allow states to practically nullify the goals and intent of the ACA by refusing ( or just failing) to set up their own state insurance exchange (market) using instead, the federal exchange.
It was unclear whether consumers in federal-only state exchanges were entitled to and/or qualified for) the subsidies that made health insurance affordable ( and hence, mandatory). That was the key problem – the poor drafting ( or unclear intent) made it possible for non-insureds in federal-only exchange states, to opt out of healthcare, arguing they didn’t qualify, because without the subsidies, they could not afford health care – and the subsidies were not available in federal-only exchange states.

The IRS came up with a different interpretation of the statute, through its regulations and interpretative rulings. The decision addresses the difference between states that use the Federal Exchange and states, like New York, Massachusetts and many others, that set up their on state exchange markets for procuring insurance under Obamacare.


ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. SCALIA,
J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which THOMAS and ALITO, JJ., joined. –

The decision is based on the laws of statutory construction in general, and as applied to The Supreme Court. Also considered is the deference courts are supposed to give to decisions and interpretations by administrative agencies ( here, the IRS, whose interpretation was upheld by the lower court and Supreme Court, i.e. The subsidies apply whether the state uses the federal market or its own.). Unless the agency construction is arbitrary and capricious, ( or an abuse of discretion) courts should give deference to the expert agency’s interpretation.
Now, if you’re interested, you’re own your own.

OT: Judge Judy Spoke Softly (and there were also little sticks)

For those interested, this is a follow-up report of this post.

About An Afternoon with Judge Judy . . . I would say it was a great success with one hitch – and that is, the sound on Judy’s mic was a little low, so some people complained that they couldn’t hear her all the time. (Katy Couric on the other hand, was booming) I had close to 30 people, ( RSVPS came up until the last minute), so some were in the back, and some had hearing problems when they came in – but over all, most people enjoyed the interview, (lots of laughter), as well as my introduction, which gave them a little info on my professional background. Also, although we’re in the hot season down in Mexico, it was a rather mild day, so the temperature inside was acceptable.


Upper left, roasted red, yellow and orange peppers with goat cheese on crackers. middle left, artisan dried salami, with Mozzarella and artisan pickles) Standing up, skewers of watermelon, tomato and blue cheese stuffed olives, lower left, homemade ( not mine) blue cheese biscuits with fig filling, lower center, dirty water franks with mustard, above that, a mixed platter unapproved by me.

As to the food. As usual, I wasn’t quite ready when people came, though I had been up until 2 a.m. the night before preparing whatever could be prepared in advance, like the mushroom duxelles and the watermelon, tomato and blue cheese stuffed olive skewers, as well as the homemade dips ( smoked salmon and homemade caramelized French onion dip) – the guac had to be made just minutes before the event started. The roasted peppers were a last minute idea ( G-d bless Costco – that vacuum-packed goat cheese was a year old, and still good). The crostini had to be grilled and the mushrooms assembled, just before guests’ arrival). Note to self – next time make the mushrooms into a paste or put them in some sort of edible cup – stuffed cherry tomato maybe? I was picking bits of mushroom off the floor for a few days.

Then there was the issue of “Committee Work.” Since I wasn’t exactly ready with everything when people came, and members of the social committee came about 15 minutes before the start of it, I lost a little control over some of the plating and the table set-up. I don’t like to crowd the trays or plates. I’d rather refill. But with an open kitchen, and the refills on the counter, some helpers decided to utilize the refills ahead of time, crowding some platters and also mixing up some of the canapes on one platter. For example, those potato chips did not belong on the table – they should have been elsewhere with the onion dip. Someone took over my cheese plate, used the wrong dish and crowded it, added crackers I hadn’t “approved” resulting in a lot of broken pieces and crumbs. I’m afraid I hurt her feelings when I asked her to remove the crumbs. )

And then, someone put plastic forks on the table. ( It’s finger food folks) But by then, I’d had a few glasses of wine and didn’t much care. Everyone was having a good time and that’s what counts.

But,  for those of you who think I pick on Richard Armitage, I pick on myself, too.

Really, it was a very well received event. I got a few requests for recipes and an offer or two to “cater.”

I didn’t have time to take photos of the platters as I would have liked to see them. That is close-up, individual photos, but we have a great photographer ( thank you Marina) and she was kind enough to take these shots and email them to me post haste.  By the time these photos were taken, the food was picked over – which is, after all, what a hostess wants.

Lower right, crowded and ungranished, Mushroom duxelles on grilled crostini, middle left, smoked salmon spread, large whit platter, cucumber cups stuffed with  cream cheese, smoked salmon flags and a caper, crowded cheese plate.

Lower right front, crowded and ungarnished, mushroom duxelles on grilled crostini, middle left, smoked salmon spread, large white platter, cucumber cups stuffed with cream cheese, smoked salmon flags and a caper, crowded cheese plate. Bowl of homemade (not mine) assorted spiced olives). There was also a honey and thyme infused  warm feta cheese – someplace)

roasted red peppers

Roasted peppers ( really, they were grilled) with goat cheese. That half lime has an adorable Mexican craft item, a wooden marker, topped with an enamel parrot, and the sign described the dish. I used them for every dish . Each one had a different figure on top.

When it was over, I sent everyone home ( some with leftovers) and declined all offers to help clean up. I put the food away and left everything else. I “took to my bed,” for two full days ( and finished the damned newsletter that was plaguing me). I spent the days “wasting my time” by blogging, binge-watching Netflix ( Inspector Morse), reading and slowly, but steadily, eating in bed and  finishing every single item left over.

Everything is back to normal.