From Charlie’s Ktichen: Pastiche Quiche

So named because it blends elements of Quiche Lorraine (bacon/onion) and Quiche Florentine (spinach).

You will need:

1 frozen pie crust
1-1.5 lbs swiss cheese
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1/4 lb bacon
1 Tb butter
3 eggs
1 pint half and half
1/4 Tb salt
1/2 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
dash cayenne

Bake pie crush per directions on package; set aside.
Preheat oven to 450.

Cook bacon in frying pan until crisp. Set aside to cool. Keep bacon fat in pan.

Melt butter in bacon fat. Sautee onion until translucent. Set aside.

In blender or food processor, combine eggs, half and half, spinach, salt, and cayenne. Mix until smooth and well-blended. Mixture should appear pale green with spinach specks. But it will taste good.

Crumble bacon into small pieces. Place bacon in pie shell, spreading evenly. Spread onions evenly in pie crust. Add swiss cheese to pie crust. With fork, slowly fold cheese mixture to evenly distribute ingredients.

Slowly strain (technically, I just pour it) egg mixture over the pie crust, allowing liquid to seep down and fill cracks in the cheese mixture. Fill pie crust nearly to the top of the crust.

Place quiche in oven for approx 18 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 and bake for additional 18 minutes. Check quiche for firmness. If center hasn’t baked completely, return to oven for five minute increments until baked through.

The Real(er) World

MTV’s REAL WORLD PRE-QUALIFYING QUIZ
Now the standard in choosing cast members

1. Do you drink alcohol?
2. Do your friends have a sassy nickname for you?
3. If you answered yes to number 2, do you they call you it to your face? (add four points for a yes)

4. What is your IQ? (If IQ is greater than 78, please put down your pencil and leave the testing area immediately)
5. Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
6. Do you have a boyfriend and a girlfriend?
7. If you currently have a boyfriend or girlfriend, how many would you estimate you have right now? (Including today)
8. Add four points if you cannot currently list the names of all your boyfriends/girlfriends.

9. When you drink, do you drink to get drunk?
10. If you answered no to question number 9, please put down your pencil and leave the testing area immediately)
11. When you get drunk do you often have “spells,” “lose time,” or “black out”?
12. Have you ever made out with a member of the same sex? (Minus four points if you are, in fact, gay, bisexual, or beer-gay)
13. Would your parents disown you if they saw you kissing someone of the same sex on cable television?
14. Have you ever beaten anyone while drunk?
15. Have you ever been treated for alcohol abuse or experienced an “intervention” or “tough love”? (If yes, put down your pencil and leave the testing area immediately)

16. Describe yourself in three words:
17. Add four points if one of the words you used in number 16 was “hot,” “experimental,” or “laid-back.” If you used these three words, proceed directly to the Real World house in __________ (city).

18. Are you a virgin?
19. Is it on purpose?

20. How many things have you done in your life that you truly regret?
21. How many of those things still make you cry?
23. If your answer for number 21 is less than 4, please put down your pencil and leave the testing area immediately.

24. Are you a member of a strict religion, a commune, or a cult?
25. Add seven points if you are Mormon or Scientologist.

26. Would you call yourself an angry person?
27. Have you ever been told to “calm down,” “chill out,” “step off” or “back the fuck up, bitch”?
28. Has the world committed any fundamental injustices against you or “your people”?
29. Would you like to kick the world’s ass, even if it meant having to live with six strangers, kicking each ass individually?
30. Check here if you are from Philly.

31. Are you a member of an ethnic minority?
32. If you said yes to answer 31, please indicate which minority/ies here:
33. If you indicated “white” as your ethnic minority, what is your political affiliation?
34. Please check here if a member of your family is the Unabomber.
35. Please check here if you are the Unabomber.
36. Please check here if you are Puck.

"You Look Tense"

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS A SPOILER FOR THE FILM HIGH TENSION.

A coworker recently explained to me that one of her friends ardently believes all gay porn films begin with the phrase, “You look tense.”

Which may explain why, as a whole, the French/American film High Tension revolves less discreetly around lesbianism than serial killing. In the film, French student Marie (channeling Maria Falconetti of Dreyer’s classic The Passion of Joan of Arc) travels with gal pal Alex to her family’s remote farm estate in the French countryside. Marie’s a little on the butch side of things, but be warned: the girl is hot. Lithe, sinewed, with cropped blonde hair and tight jeans, she’s basically sex with opposable thumbs.

The sexual tension between Marie and Alex becomes palpable. Alex, who is a bit horsey, seems not to notice Marie’s desperate desire. But when Marie turns out to be the dangerous serial killer who has slaughtered her family (knowledge which Alex knows from early on but which is kept from the audience through a simple, stupid cinematic device), we’re reminded again of just why lesbianism is such a danger: desire that cannot end in marriage ends in murder.

Marie’s cinematic alter ego is a fat, hairy Frenchman with an eerie smile and who communicates through a series of grunts. This is who we see commit the murders and who Marie ultimately “hunts” in order to save Alex. My problems here are many. I can understand the natural, foolish impulse of heterosexuals to characterize the dangerous desire of lesbians as a male killer, but why is he a fat Frenchman when Marie is such a thin hottie? Why isn’t her own self-visualization on her desire for women appear as, say, a shirtless Christian Bale?

Secondly, when heterosexuals express desire through homicide, they don’t have to sacrifice their gender identity to do so. The confusion of Marie’s sexual identity with her gender identity is a fundamental misrecognition of heterosexuals to understand same sex desire. Marie’s desire for Alex masculinizes her, yet Alex herself remains unaffected. The impulse toward masculinizing lesbians reinforces a female-object/male-objectifier dichotomy that does not exist in same sex desire. Heterosexuals of the world are uncomfortable when desire becomes a level playing field. This begs the question: can a woman objectify another woman? And if so, what is the resulting power dynamic when the object objectifies the gazer right back? The desire might be considered oppositional were it not so fortutious for both parties. Love (or its physical expression) results.

High Tension ultimately reserves its violence not for the victims of Marie’s chain saw, axe, straight razor, or shotgun, but for the lesbians in the audience. As representations go, I’m not sure we’ve seen something this horrific since Silence of the Lambs‘s Buffalo Bill. Oh, but who am I kidding? In horror films, gay folks are always on the right end of the knife. Heterosexuals beware: per your worst fears, we are not afraid to use it.

Morgan Spurlock and 30 Days

A big fan of Super-Size Me, I eagerly tuned into the debut of Morgan Spurlock’s new hourlong documentary show 30 Days when it premiered on FX last week. The premise is, á la Super-Size, that Morgan will document 30 days of somethin—minimum wage work, exercise, etc.—for the good of…the good.

In the first installment, Spurlock and his partner move to Columbis, Ohio, and secure minimum wage work. His girlfriend gets a dishwashing job at a cafe while Spurlock takes up odd construction, landscaping, and restaurant work. They move into a bug-infested apartment with basically just the clothes on their back—and no heat until they have enough dough to start the service.

Their 30 days documents the financial hardships of the minimum wage earner and makes a strong argument for a federal wage increase, yes. Spurlock and his partner scrimp and save as much as they can but are knocked out by back-to-back emergency room visits (his for work-related wrist injury; hers for a nasty UTI). For his partner’s 30th birthday, they must choose between a $20 meal out (which goes overbudget) or a visit to the local conservatory (adult ticket price: $6).

Spurlock repeatedly asks the camera during his “confessional” moments: How do people live like this?

I respect Spurlock and I respect what he’s doing, but I was also a little outraged by this episode. Spurlock and his partner, despite their “immersion” in the culture of poverty, are still just tourists there. Any minimum wage earner in our country doesn’t have the luxury of asking how people live that way—because they’re too busy living that way. Throughout the episode, Spurlock provides a brief history of the minimum wage and its current status—that there’s been no increase since (I believe) 1997. It’s horrific to be one of America’s working poor, but it’s sort of irresponsible to live above the poverty line and profess to understand what it’s like after just 30 days.

It’s a complication that speaks to my relationship with poetries of witness. Witness is such a difficult thing to communicate because it can easily encroach on violence. For example, Spurlock is attempting to provide a witness of an experience that isn’t entirely his. I don’t know where to draw the line in terms of witness, either. It can be a slippery slope. But I think recognizing the difficulty of witness is a good start on the path to keeping it “honest,” if that’s even possible.

Batman Benign

Let me say, for the record, that I mostly liked the new Batman flick. Didn’t love it. Didn’t think it was a revelation of cinema. Just liked it.

It seemed to me a lot like an okay poem that hinged on a few good turns of phrase. There were great moments in the film, but as a whole, it was a bit uneventful and—yes—a little boring.

And I even like Katie Holmes.

I liked the new rendering of Gotham City but felt it lacked a certain…Gothic feel. It was sort of too post-apocalyptic, and the entire film tried to cultivate a sense that the city lost its innocence when the Waynes were killed (September 11? What?). Right down to the ensuing economic depression…curious.

The scariest thing about Batman Begins from a political perspective is how it supports America’s current seek-and-destroy ideology on terrorism. Batman—not a vigilante, because that’s “selfish”—is on a crusade to cleanse Gotham City of those who engage in crime. Evil doers, perhaps? “It’s not who I am underneath, it’s what I do that defines me.” The film uses this phrase to transcend Batman’s identity from crimefighter to benevolent angel, but it has a converse effect: in some senses, Batman is nearly the outlaw the criminals are.

I more enjoyed Burton’s take on Batman, even though they got a bit campy. I enjoyed the addition (finally) of Arkham Asylum to Gotham City. I thought the villain’s reveal was a big fat cinematic whoopee cushion.

Gary Oldham was a revelation as Sgt. Gordon. And wouldn’t this film have been better if Christian Bale were shirtless even more? Although, by the end of the film, I had already felt disgusted with myself for eating half a bag of popcorn and downing a soda after seeing his no-fat, muscled torso flex under and over his bedsheets. (Being gay cuts both ways.)

My favorite take on Batman was the WB cartoon series of the late 90s. It cultivated Gotham City as a moody Art Deco wonderland, complete with women whose stockings had a seam up the back of their legs. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Even Two Face, one of the biggest villain duds, was given appropriate due in the series.

Overall, Batman met my minimum expectations. I think the next one will probably be better.