Cooking with gasbag

Somewhere in Massachusetts, a cold shiver just ran up Tom Levenson’s back, for Megan McArdle has published her “Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Kitchen Edition“.

Now, I love cooking (my old English Fruit cake with propofol icing has won several awards) and I love gadgets (particularly the sort that are made by Germans out of latex and make the lights dim in three states when I turn them on), but McMegan’s list is truly terrifying.

Megan says that “Space is somewhat limited in our kitchen“, and given that she appears to own every piece of crap that has ever been flogged to the gullible and the taste-free, I’m not surprised. I have visions of her dessicated corpse being found some day, trapped between the piles of old copies of the New York Times that line the walls of her apartment, smothered beneath an avalanche of chicken-shaped spoon holders and fish spatulas, all liberally lubricated with rancid butter (salted and salt-free!) that has spilled out from her (now water-depleted) butter boats.

It’s hard to pick favourites from her list, but I’m particularly enamoured of the Salt Pig, which may be the ugliest piece of kitchenware I have ever seen:

At least it matches the colour of her salt.

Helpfully, Megan suggests several solutions to those global problems which bedevil us all, including the Kuhn Rikon Egg Separating Set because:

Separating eggs by hand is not hard, but it’s tedious…

and the Swivel Store Spice Rack because:

Like most people who like to cook, I am obsessed with finding a solution to The Spice Problem.

Thankfully, this last apparently flouts the laws of physics by holding all her spices:

happily (and neatly) over the microwave, where they’re paradoxically easy to get at, and safely out of the way.

If only Zeno had known about that he wouldn’t have had to do all that messing around with tortoises and arrows.

Megan even recommends not only a gravy separator, but also a warming gravy boat. Starving children in Eritrea can rest easy now, knowing that Megan’s guests will never be exposed to cold, fatty sauces.

She (of course) triples down on the fucking Thermomix, in its third mention in as many weeks. I’m pretty sure she’s angling for a freebie, so she can wedge herself between two of them and have them rhythmically whirl, whirl, whirl her towards orgasm.

The thing that stands out most of all for me, however, is this:

I’ll frequently make a pot of rice at night and melt some cheese on top, eat some for dinner, and the rest for breakfast.

Despite all Megan’s crapping on about her fantasy world of “shiny chocolate glazes” and custards and foams and perfect bechamel, buried in the middle of the article we get one solitary glimpse of the truth – sad, pathetic Megan, surrounded by her shelves and drawers and hills of tat and rubbish, shovelling cheese and rice into her face in a futile attempt to fill the aching void in her soul.

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Happy Christmas from Ron and Nancy

A quiet lunch with the Reagans

This is a dreadfully rude and unpleasant story, kiddies, for which I sincerely apologize.

Sometimes real life is like that.

It must have been Christmas 2003. Nancy had invited me to stay at the St Cloud Road house for a few weeks.

We had a lovely time together catching up, although it did take a while to get used to Nancy’s little habit of getting her secret service agents to position Ronnie in random places around the house in order to scare the maids. The new cook resigned on the first day I was there, soon after she walked into the pantry to find him hanging by his feet from the top shelf singing “I’m the Batman”. I’d been sitting on the toilet for 30 minutes one morning, and only realized that Ronnie was propped up in the shower stall wearing a sombrero when he called me “Mommy”. I got over my little constipation problem faster than you can say “Rush Limbaugh is a big fat pedophile.”

Please don’t think that Nancy was being mean. I think she was just bored all alone in that big house, and she said it gave him something to do with his time.There wasn’t much of Ronnie left, and what there was was basically a sweet four year old boy, so it was hard to dislike him, even if he did enjoy playing tricks.

Nancy and I had first met back during her Hollywood career, although of course it wasn’t so much an acting career as an early version of “The Bachelorette” – just Nancy hanging around on set and swilling champagne in the hot tub until someone asked her to marry them.

We used to write each other every month, although our friendship waned a little during the “Just say NO” years, when Nancy used to call Gloria V. and me and rant about us being “drug-addled hell-bitches” every time we got our photo in Vanity Fair.

Anyway, come Christmas time, Nancy decided to invite the Bushes (both 41 and 43) and the Cheneys and Karl Fucking Rove to fly in for a barbecue. I suggested this was like inviting all of the characters in “Whatever happened to Baby Jane?” into your living room, but she said that she liked to keep an eye on the latest tenants in her old house.

Of course, once they arrived, I realized I had gotten the reference wrong. Lynne Cheney might look and behave like Bette Davis coming down from a three week whisky-and-blow bender, but the rest of them resemble nothing so much as the cast of the Tim Burton version of “Gilligan’s Island”. Nancy and I would have to fight over who gets to be Ginger, and Ronnie could give a special guest appearance as the SS Minnow – thick as a plank and leaking at the seams.

Nancy and Ronnie and I were seated at the table in the garden when the guests arrived en masse – W wide eyed and giggling a little when he said hello to Ronnie, Lynne eyeing off the cutlery, and Dick gurgling as usual when he walked as the bile and shit and other viscous fluids redistributed themselves within his carapace. Barb and Nancy managed to shake hands without biting each other, which was a nice change.

I had the butler hand out the special drinks which I had prepared – bright-green vodka gimlets with Grammy’s special garnishes. The cheap vodka, of course – I was scarcely going to waste Nancy’s good stuff on that lot. I was going to slip some Valium into Laura’s glass, but she had pre-anesthetized herself, so it hardly seemed worth the bother. Not much was getting past her pink haze, although she still flinched, just a tiny bit, whenever W spoke. We sat her at our end of the table and gave her a spoon to look at and she seemed quite happy.

The Ipecac and Dulcolax Slings I’d made for Lynne and Barb took them out of the equation pretty damn quickly. W and Dick and Rove were all seated around Ronnie and were laughing about the invasion of Iraq and how they were going to find the WMDs any day now. The butler had only just put the shrimp cocktails on the table when suddenly Lynne made a face like a cow having a special visit from the vet, leapt from her chair and ran off in the wrong direction. Barb was standing up and laughing like a drain until, in mid guffaw, she vomited so hard it came out her nose. She headed off across the garden too, crashed into Lynne and then they both fell into the pool, spurting all the while from every orifice.

The secret service boys fished them out eventually and that was the last we heard of either of them for the rest of the day. No one else seemed particularly concerned. Nancy said something about hoping that the shrimp were ok, nodded at me happily and went on chatting to Bush Senior.

We finished our shrimp. W and Rove were talking about finally finishing the job in Iraq, which got them a nasty look from 41. I could see from our end of the table that Cheney had gotten bored and was entertaining himself by seeing how far he could poke his fork into Ronnie’s leg before Ronnie complained. Ronnie was rolling his eyes and fidgeting, so after I had summoned some more drinks I wandered down to pat his hand and reassured him that it was all going to be ok. By the time I got back to my seat, Ronnie was fast asleep and W and Rove had both chugged their new drinks. Cheney sipped his more carefully, looking at it suspiciously every now and then, but it all went down eventually.

A few minutes later when the entrees arrived, the speed in Rove and W’s drinks had kicked in and they were both sweating like Bill Donohue at a gay sauna. Rove said something about waterboarding and they both laughed and punched each other on the shoulders. Cheney poked at his steak with the point of his fork, then watched it carefully for a while, as if he might catch it breathing. 1000µg of lysergic acid diethylamide all in one go can tend to make one a tad paranoid.

At that point Nancy, bless her soul, started telling a long story about her last visit to her new psychic, Helmut. Helmut was a strange German man with an eyepatch and a squint of whom Nancy was very fond. Instead of reading tea leaves, he charged Nancy a thousand bucks a week to read the grains of salt in the bottom of her afternoon margaritas. On her last visit he had warned her that the dead spirits of those who had hated her in life could follow her around and do her mischief.

At the time, Nancy had laughed and said that she should be fine as long as Barb Bush and Rosie Carter hadn’t yet shuffled off the mortal coil.

However, now she made a big thing of how her psychic had told her that the spirits could seek their bloody revenge, which she described both in great detail and with that particular relish that Nancy always brings to descriptions of suffering.

Cheney was staring at her. His eyes were glassy and wide, and he twitched occasionally. As she went on, he started looking from side to side over his shoulders and mumbling about it all being Condoleeza Rice’s fault. His nervousness started to get to W and Rove and they started giggling nervously and asking Cheney what was wrong. He kept telling them to be quiet because he couldn’t “hear them coming with you fuckers talking”. Eventually, they had all worked themselves into such a state that when the butler brought round the chocolate mousse they all almost jumped out of their chairs.

In the middle of dessert, Ronnie coughed and woke up. W let out a little squeak like a startled prairie dog and, I suspect, also a little bit of wee.

Ronnie’s eyes slowly swam into focus. He blinked twice, and peered across the table. His hand came up off the table and every eye in the room was fixed on it as it pointed, quite deliberately, first at Rove, second at Cheney and finally at W.

They all leaned forward, swaying and sweating and vibrating, yet eager for the words from the lips of the Great Liberator to banish their terrors and absolve their sins.

Ronnie raised his head just a little, carefully licked his lips and, looking again at each of the three in turn, just as deliberately said, “Asshole … Criminal … Gilligan.”

Ronnie smiled, farted and then promptly went back to sleep.

Just then Nancy’s Mexican gardener José wandered through from the pool. Cheney took one look at him and dived under the table screaming that the dead Iraqi hordes had come to get him with their terrible trowels of vengeance. W fainted and toppled backwards, while Rove crapped himself with a thunderous noise like Chris Christie’s girdle coming undone. Cheney pulled W in under the table and sheltered under him, making that screeching noise that pigs make when they are being slaughtered.

Soon afterwards we shepherded them all off the property, looking for all the world like the unsuccessful gold ticket holders at the end of a particularly sadistic version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

41 stayed behind and we all went and had some more gimlets – made with the good vodka, of course. I quite like 41 – he can almost out-drink me and he does a hilarious impersonation of Newt Gingrich that involves two forks and a salt shaker.

Now, Ronald Reagan may not have been a very nice man. My nephew Kevin tells me that Ronnie was a monstrous and genocidal maniac who really only found out how wrong he was when he arrived in Hell and was assigned fifteen specially-created demons, each with the face of Anita Bryant, whose job was to gnaw out Ronnie’s entrails every day for the rest of eternity.

I think that’s a little cruel. I’m sure they let the demons have a day off every now and then.

I’m not sure why Kevin hates Ronnie so much, though I have no real reason to disagree with his assessment.

However, even at his most dribblingly senile, even once his once-average brain had crumbled to a level slightly below that of Bonzo the fucking chimp, even then Ronald Reagan knew what amoral, cowardly, evil bastards looked like when he saw them.

[Picture: Adolphe Jourdan (1825-1889) – A Summer’s Picnic]

[Cross posted at Balloon Juice.]


We’re off to see the lizard

Hello, my dears.

Great excitement and surprise at Shady Pines today, as I have finally received my invitation to the royal wedding next Friday.

In order to be entirely accurate, I should say that everyone else is excited and surprised. Marge is running around burbling about how beautiful Diana is, and the other girls have already started engaging in blatant bribery with spirits and pharmaceuticals in order that they might be chosen as my “plus one”.

I’m not surprised, given that I phoned Betty Saxe-Coburg-Gotha at Buckingham Palace last week and mentioned that I was a little put out that Elton Fucking John and that cadaverous bint Vicky Beckham received their invitations before I did. A few passing references to the special services I provided to Stupid George during the war and certain information about Paris road underpasses that Betty really doesn’t want leaking out, and before you could say “overprivileged inbred hereditary bloodsuckers” a nice little man in full livery was standing on the front doorstep of Shady Pines, panting and clutching an envelope.

Excited is probably also an overstatement. It will be nice to have an excuse to visit Harvey Nicks and Harrods, and Westminster always looks so lovely when it’s done up for a wedding, but it’s really just another chance for Phil the Greek to try to get into my pants. I’ve been dealing with him since 1952 and frankly it does get a little wearing fending off the racist old git’s wandering fingers.

Even worse, I then find out that Big Red Sarah isn’t even invited, and she’s the only member of the family I can actually stand for more than five minutes at a time. Perhaps I’ll call her and tell her that she can come with me. That will put a badger up Betty’s monogrammed knickers.

It all puts me in mind of the week before Diana and Charles got married. We were at Windsor, and I was sitting having breakfast with Betty. Charles was off communing with his cabbages, and the two of us were watching Diana up the other end of the table trying to eat her bacon with a spoon while taking the occasional sip out of the salt cellar. Betty said something about calling the wedding off because she didn’t want a vacuous moron marrying into the family. I seem to recall I asked her why she would want to break with a centuries old tradition, which made Betty cross for some reason.

Anyway, young Ms Middleton seems like a nice enough thing, even if she does look a bit like a constipated horse at an all-you-can-eat apple buffet.

A fairytale wedding of the balding and increasingly plain heir to the throne to a commoner with an eating disorder and a mad father, coupled with the frenetic attention of the British tabloids and the pathetic hopes of the British public for a happy ending.

How on earth could anything go wrong?

[Image from http://katemiddletonforthewin.tumblr.com/%5D


One is a vicious creature with no morals that licks itself, and the other is a dog

I was reading the other day that Donald Trump has interviewed Ralph Reed for the job as his campaign manager.

As I mentioned in my letter to those lawyers, while I was staying with Bitsy at Donald’s New York apartment Ivana’s little pekinese Frou-Frou attacked Donald.

Frou-Frou was normally a sweet little thing, but Ivana had been showing it pictures of Donald and poking it, so that every time it saw him it would growl and show its little teeth like Sarah Palin at an NAACP conference.

Bitsy and I were on our way out of the apartment, when we saw Ivana sneaking into the bathroom with Frou-Frou in her arms. Donald was in there having a shower, singing showtunes at the top of his voice – something from “Cats” if my memory serves.

Suddenly, there was a scream from Donald as Ivana lobbed the little doggy over the screen and into the shower.

As long as I live, I don’t think I will ever see anything as funny as Donald rocketing out of his gold and pink marble bathroom, stark naked, hair flapping behind him, stomach flopping in front of him, with his arms flailing and flapping, and with a tiny, furry dog hanging on for dear life to his testicles with its teeth and pissing everywhere at the same time with excitement.

Funnily enough, I imagine Ralph Reed’s first meeting with the Donald was quite similar visually.


In which correspondence with Jarndyce and Jarndyce regarding Donald Trump’s Birth Certificate is displayed

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In which Donald Trump requires his lawyers to send a threatening letter

As you may recall, last night I told a little story about Donald Trump.

I didn’t think it was a particularly important little story, although I now realize the fact that the Donald’s mother was both unmarried and a legal citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the time Donald was born in Mexico might put a little dent into his claim to be a “natural born” American citizen.

I was surprised therefore when, at about 3pm this afternoon, Jesus (my nurse, not God) stuck his pretty head around my door and told me that I had a visitor – a Mr Tulkinghorn.

Mr Tulkinghorn was loitering in the common room. He introduced himself as a paralegal from a firm of lawyers called Jarndyce and Jarndyce – although I’ve never seen a paralegal with face tattoos, a spiked dog collar and a hook for a hand before. He handed (hooked?) me the badly punctuated and poorly edited letter which I reproduce in full below.

After I had read his little missive, I told him exactly where his owners could shove his letter. He started to wave his hook menacingly, so I set Marge Albrechtson onto him and the last time we saw him he was running out the door screaming for mercy, with Marge in hot pursuit brandishing an angry squirrel in each hand.

Now I have to go and write my response to Messers Jarndyce and Jarndyce.

I think I might send them a nice fruit cake with a laxative surprise.

I will not be silenced.


Pass the humiliation and the pink Himalayan salt, please

Megan McArdle by David Shankbone

Gloria Vanderbilt once invited Megan McArdle to a dinner party. I told Van I couldn’t imagine why she was inviting that, and she said, “Well, dear, Andrew Sullivan is coming as well, and we have to give him the chance to act superior to someone at the table.”

On the night, McArdle arrived half an hour early, which would be unforgivable enough had she not come toting a bottle of Vin de Footsquasher 2007 and a bunch of half-dead gerberas. Van’s wonderful old butler, Thomas, stuck her in the waiting room for 45 minutes, so by the time he went and got her we were all already sitting down, onto our first glass and our second line, and hoeing into the sevruga.

Anyhow, when Thomas fetched Megan, she trundled after him, clutching her flowers and bottle. As they made their way along the corridor, she started to let out a little whine, which gradually got more high pitched and then burst out into a litany of complaints against poor Thomas. It was a little like this: “mmmmmmmmmmmoooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEE. Why? Why did you make me sit there all alone. Do you know who I am? I sat there without a drink for aaaaaaaages. Blah. Blah. Whinycakes.”

Thomas ignored her and kept going. He rounded the corner, threw open the door, and because McMegan was so wrapped up in her whinge, she had flung the words “It’s just not good enough!” at Thomas before she realized that she was in the dining room and twenty people were staring at her.

Anderson couldn’t help but let out a guffaw, but everyone else was just staring at her openmouthed. Jonathan Franzen started whispering to me to try to find out “who the hell that lank haired harridan” was.

Gloria stood up like the perfect hostess, although even I will admit she was swaying a bit, and managed to focus her eyes on McArdle. She reached out and graciously took the bottle that Megan was clutching, peered at it, and said “No, it’s really not good enough to show up with a bottle of cat piss, but don’t beat yourself up too much.”

Then she walked back to the table, but over her shoulder she said, “And we don’t talk to the servants like they are dogs, dear, not unless we want them to shit in the soup.”

From memory Megan sat at the table the rest of the night, clutching her gerberas and not saying a word. She did, however, manage to bogart the joint, then ran from the room looking green, and spent the rest of the night vomiting in the spare bathroom.

It was a dud of an evening for the most part. Andrew Sullivan had a discussion with Congressman Paul Ryan about the congressman’s proposal that all gays had to wear a pink triangle, be branded on the forehead, and eventually be shipped off to camps in Alaska. Andrew kept saying that he thought it was a bracing idea and evidence that the debate on gay marriage could move on to more earnest grounds, but that he wondered whether he might get an exemption, being a “conservative” and all.

Ryan laughed at him and told him that “conservative” gays were the worst of all, and there would be compulsory castration for them as well, at which point Andrew threw his support behind the idea entirely as “being in the true spirit of Oakeshottianism”.

We managed to get rid of Sullivan and McArdle fairly early, thank god. There was no way the wife-swapping section of the evening was going to work with those two in the room.

Image by David Shankbone, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons