Friday, August 03, 2007

Five things for Friday 3 August

Song: California Soul Marlena Shaw. The video has an introduction which will tell you more than I can; if all you want is the music, it starts at 1:15. There's also the original version by The 5th Dimension in which the music, dance, outfits and the group as a whole are all so wrong and yet so right.

Book: Genghis Khan by John Man. John Man tries to find solutions to some of the mysteries surrounding Genghis Khan's life, death and afterlife. While there are records of his life (the Mongols were becoming literate at this time, something which is not a coincidence), they pose more questions than they answer. His death was kept a secret at the time and he was buried in a secret place. Today he is still a political symbol, having been co-opted as a Chinese Emperor by his Grandson Kublai Khan. The book includes a recipe for Mongolian Marmot Casserole (First, shoot your Marmot...).

Film: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Sergio Leone takes his time to tell the story, but it's time well spent. The slowly increasing tension in scenes where nothing at all happens for minutes at a time is something so rarely seen. Back on my long shots riff, I'll note there's one shot where Tuco, played by Eli Wallach, runs past Clint Eastwood's character at full pelt with his hands tied behind his back. Clint wheels his horse and accelerates into a gallop, scabbards the rifle he's holding, overtakes Wallach, and then the two of them get Wallach onto the back of the galloping horse. All one shot; no stunt doubles to be seen. I'm sure you can watch the film yourself, but here's the final three-way duel. Not surprisingly, this will entirely spoil the film for you if you watch it so resist. Resist! If you can't, note how the full width of the screen is being used.

Food: I'm over-supplied with potatoes right now, so here's the heart-stoppingly indulgent recipe for Gratin Dauphinois:

1 Pound New Potatoes
1/4 Pint Cream
8 Tablespoons grated Gruyere
4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan

Butter a casserole. Peel and slice the potatoes and soak in cold water for a few minutes. Drain and dry the potato slices.

Layer the potatoes in the casserole, pouring cream, sprinkling cheese, dotting with butter and seasoning each layer. Finish with a layer of cheese. Cook Gas Mark 3, 160 C for about an hour.

Wild Card: It's another recipe, but this time from the Guinness World Record website; the latest World Record to fall is for making the largest bowl of soup. WARNING: The Guinness World Record website is a tremendous time-sink.
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