Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday 5 October

Song: Aretha Franklin, Respect. A karaoke favourite! For me that is.

Book: Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon. I was reminded of this by the Mitchell and Webb sketch in which Admiral Karl Dönitz is appointed the new Fuhrer[1] as there's an hilarious sequence in Cryptonomicon in which some of the characters are reading transcripts of intercepted German transmissions between Dönitz and a U-boat captain Bischoff:

Bischoff : Sank another merchantman. This newfangled radar shit is everywhere.
Dönitz : Acknowledged. Well done.
Bishoff : Bagged another tanker. These bastards seem to know exactly where I am. Thank god for the Schnorkel.
Dönitz : Acknowledged. Nice work as usual.
Bischoff : Sank another merchantman. Airplanes were waiting for me. I shot one of them down; it landed on me in a fireball and incinerated three of my men. Are you sure this Enigma thing really works?
Dönitz : Nice work, Bischoff! You get another medal. Don't worry about the Enigma, it's fantastic!
Bischoff : I attacked a convoy and sank three merchantmen, a tanker and a destroyer.
Dönitz : Superb, another medal for you!
Bischoff : Just for the hell of it, I doubled back and finished what was left of that convoy. Then another destroyer turned up and dropped depth charges on us for three days. We are all half dead, steeped in our own waste like rats that have fallen into a latrine and are slowly drowning. Our brains are gangrenous from breathing our own carbon dioxide.
Dönitz : You are a hero of the Reich and the Fuhrer himself has been informed of your brilliant success! Would you mind heading south and attacking the convoy at such-and-such coordinates? P.S. please limit the length of your messages.
Bischoff : Actually I could use a vacation, but sure, what the heck.
Bischoff (a week later) : Nailed about half that convoy for you. Had to surface and engage a pesky destroyer with the deck gun. This was so utterly suicidal, they didn't expect it. As a consequence we blew them to bits. Time for a nice vacation now.
Dönitz : You are now officially the greatest U-boat commander of all time.
(Page 391. From here the narrative turns from comedy towards tragedy and returns to the plot.)

Film: There's actually opera on TV all the time if you search far enough down through the 10 zillion channels Sky has. I haven't actually seen this production of The Magic Flute, but with the English libretto by Stephen Fry, what do I have to lose. Must make a note: watch more opera -it's like Miss Saigon but without the helicopter!

Food: Roast Pheasant! Pheasant season opened on 1 October! Pheasant is a game bird and very lean so dries out easily (my mantra for cooking game). Avoid this by smearing the bird in butter, laying bacon over the breast and thighs, and baste in the middle of cooking. Roast for maybe 10 minutes at 230C and another 30-40 minutes at 200C. Serve with game chips (crisps heated in the oven make a fine impersonation), a clear gravy, fried breadcrumbs, watercress and rich jellies like quince or blackberry. Alternatively look back through my archives for Pheasant Pot Roast.

Wild Card: I've been keeping this in reserve for a while as I'm still not quite sure what my reaction is, but anyway here's the music video to Jeffrey Lewis' Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror. Let me know if you think anything. Not Safe For Work. In fact probably this whole post is NSFW.


[1] Based on the factoid that Dönitz was the short lived leader of Germany after Hitler killed himself.

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