BC&B: Saucisson Chaud Pommes À L’Huile w/ Cake au Citron

It’s been a while since I French Bistroed (had a cold twice! or two different ones once! each!), but it’s time to start cooking again.

The next thing in the appetiser section is … basically some sausage with some potatoes tossed in an onion/vinegar mixture. I’m quite sceptical, because it looks (once again) like it’s a pretty… harsh-looking recipe. I mean, even if you put some raw onions into oil for an hour, it’s still going to taste like raw onions. But we’ll see.

I have a tendency to buy bunches of books from the same author, but I usually space them out so that I don’t read many of them in sequence. Because any charming idiosyncrasy turns into an annoying tic if you immerse yourself too long.

But here we have The Golden Globe by John Varley, despite me reading another novel by him the other week. Because the concept (ahem) behind this blog series is to read the 20 books I most recently bought (in reverse chronological order).

I know, I know.

But let’s read the first three pages.

Oh, well, that’s a bit different from Irontown Blues. It’s not about a 30s private dick on the moon. Instead it’s about an actor on … Pluto.

Totally different thing.

And instead of having an intelligent dog as a viewpoint character, here we just have an intelligent dog as a non-viewpoint character. See! Totally different!

Oh, this book is going to annoy me so much…

Chip Delany once described himself as that erudite guy that could talk about anything in an endlessly fascinating and erudite way, and you’d just that he would shut up? Well, Varley is like that, too, except the fascinating and erudite bits. Varley will go off on any boring tangent at the drop of the hat, which makes for less than riveting reading.

But Varley is witty. The plot is barely there: I doubt very much that Varley had any idea what this was going to be about other than a chance to have an actor/con guy traipse across the solar system. But we’re along for the ride, I guess.

The ingredients aren’t very complimacated. Just the usual stuff. And sausage.

Hey, I got a new knife. “PS60”, apparently. It’s the best knife I’ve ever used: It just sits so well in my hand, and has the right balance.

Chop chop chopping has never been easier.

So the onions are supposed to just sit there in oil for a while to make it more… mellow? I have some doubts.

And then the “country sausage” (I still don’t know what that means, so I got some raw pork sausage) is just supposed to barely simmer for a while.

Hm… perhaps I can bake a cake while it’s barely simmering? I mean, there’s not much to do in this recipe.

So that’s a lemon cake. It looks simple to make, too — just put everything into the mixer… in a specific order. It looks suspiciously easy: Is this even going to rise without doing the egg whites separately and stuff? Hm.

So the normal ingredients for a cake, but with creme fraiche and lemons. And His Dark Materials on the TV.

Dry ingredients…

And then all the rest of the ingredients, stirred in, and that’s it.

Into a couple pans and then into the oven for an hour. And then back to the appetiser.

The recipe said to use “best quality” sherry vinegar, and doesn’t that look fancy? Behold! Vinegar!

So that’s the onion mixture seasoned and vinegared.

So the potatoes are cooked and sliced and into the mixture.

So how does it taste? Well… it’s not bad. In fact, it’s kinda good. I mean, the raw onions are raw onions, even if they’ve “marinated”, but with the potatoes, vinegar and the sausage, it’s really edible. I mean, it’s the sort of thing you can just sit there and eat a bit of, and then eat another bit of, and before you know it you’ve been slowly finished a couple of plates of. It’s a good nibbling kind of food, because it has really bold flavours.

It’s not something that I’d make again, but it’s fine.

And now the cake is done.

Eep! It hasn’t risen at all!

My worst fears are confirmed: It’s flat as a flat omelette.

Which is basically what it is: It’s a flat omelette with some flour in it.

So that was a total failure.

But, dude, the flavour is fabulous! If this had been made properly, it would have been the best lemon cake ever. It’s quite in your face, but it’s also nicely rounded, what with the vanilla sugar and the creme fraiche.

So I think the author is onto something, and I have to remake this cake, but do it properly with whisked egg whites, because this iteration was inedible.

But that just leaves me with finishing the book:

Varley will go on and on and on about all these science fictioney things, and I’m on board with that. Sort of. Except that there’s way more than the storyline (if you want to call it that) can take.

And I’m horrified; just horrified, I tells ya, when one of the most long-winded schticks Varley has his … let’s call him character, for want of a better word… go around calling all the banks in the system and asking whether they have bank accounts for any of his many aliases. As a bankster myself, I visibly blanched at the idea of a bank even responding to such a question: Whether a person has a connection with a bank is a secret! It’s not something you blab to anybody who asks! Over the phone, even!



And it goes on for so long. I guess Varley just had a whopping number of funny names he felt that he had to share with us.

(They aren’t funny.)

So many parts of this book feels like it was written in a particularly backward version of the 1950s instead of 1998, which it was. For instance, here’s Varley talking about how nobody could publish facts about the Charonese Mafia, because everybody who tried were killed.

This is written about ten years after the Internet was available to a whole bunch of people, and anonymous remailers had existed longer than that. It’s just… odd.

Anyway! All this nitpicking is happening because I’m bored, of course. The bits from his upbringing (as a child actor) seem interminable, and the main story (if you can call it that) only is seldom interesting. The courtroom scene at the end is fun, though, even if the twist ending is more on the nose than a pince-nez.

This blog post is part of the Bistro
Cooking & Books

November Music

Music I’ve bought in November.

I’ve been buying all the usual nonsense this month, but I’ve particularly been delving into the output of Broklyn Beats (yes, one O), a label that was active in the early noughts. They concentrated on what some people at the time called “brokebeat”: Harsh, annoying music you can’t dance to. For instance, here’s Toecutter:

Man, that album is the most annoying thing I’ve heard ever! And I’ve heard all the annoying albums! I challenge anybody to program while listening to this album! Kudos!

But I didn’t know that Broklyn Beats also did this charming packaging stuff:

See? It’s a mesh thing stapled into a kind of sleeve.

And inside, there is what looks like a hand-screen-printed paper sleeve. (And a CD-R.)

I love it.

jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Bark+Psychosis&album=400+Winters+EP jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Thomas+Dolby&album=Blinded+by+Science jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Various&album=Brutal+Police+Menace jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Ford+%26+Lopatin&album=Channel+Pressure+Remixes jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Liquorice&album=Cheap+Cuts+(Promo)
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Susumu+Yokota&album=Cloud+Hidden jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Stereolab&album=Cobra+and+Phases+Group+Play+Voltage+in+the+Milky+Night+(1) jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Stereolab&album=Cobra+and+Phases+Group+Play+Voltage+in+the+Milky+Night+(2) jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Matana+Roberts&album=Coin+Coin+Chapter+Four%3A+Memphis jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Minimal+Compact&album=Creation+is+Perfect
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Pet+Shop+Boys&album=Dreamland jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Fort+Romeau&album=Dweller+on+the+Threshold jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Erion&album=Erion jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Games&album=Everything+is+Working jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Nico&album=Fata+Morgana
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Kreidler&album=Flood jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Juana+Molina&album=Forfun jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Front+242&album=Geography jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Scout+Niblett&album=I+Conjure+Series jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=The+Residents&album=I+am+a+Resident!+(1)
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=The+Residents&album=I+am+a+Resident!+(2) jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Split&album=Jason+Forrest%2C+End jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Mark+Kozelek+with+Petra+Haden&album=Joey+Always+Smiled jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Siouxsie+and+the+Banshees&album=Join+Hands jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Kevin+Ayers%2C+John+Cale%2C+Eno%2C+Nico&album=June+1%2C+1974
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Criterion&album=La+Ciudad jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Patty+Waters&album=Live jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Bottleskup+Flenkenkenmike&album=Looks+Like+Velvet%2C+Smells+Like+Pee jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Doily&album=Mattress+of+the+Universe jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=The+Iceburn+Collective&album=Meditavolutions
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Various&album=Meshed-Up+Minds jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Crash+Course+In+Science&album=Near+Marineland jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Ben+Neill&album=Night+Science jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Kim+Gordon&album=No+Home+Record jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Pat+Thomas+and+Kwashibu+Area+Band&album=Obiaa!
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Front+242&album=Official+Version+%5B1986-1987%5D jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Various&album=Pet+Shop+Boys+Collaborations jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Teenage+Jesus+%26+The+Jerks&album=Pre-Teenage+Jesus jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=The+Body&album=Remixed+and+Reinterpreted jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Octo+Octa&album=Resonant+Body
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Criterion&album=Root+Canal jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Various&album=SHAPE+Platform+2019 jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Yukihiro+Takahashi&album=Saravah! jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=End&album=Science-Fiction jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Massive+Attack&album=Singles+90-98+(1)%3A+Daydreaming
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Massive+Attack&album=Singles+90-98+(10)%3A+Angel jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Massive+Attack&album=Singles+90-98+(11)%3A+Inertia+Creeps jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Massive+Attack&album=Singles+90-98+(2)%3A+Unfinished+Sympathy jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Massive+Attack&album=Singles+90-98+(3)%3A+Safe+From+Harm jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Massive+Attack&album=Singles+90-98+(4)%3A+Hymn+of+the+Big+Wheel
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Massive+Attack&album=Singles+90-98+(5)%3A+Sly jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Massive+Attack&album=Singles+90-98+(6)%3A+Protection jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Massive+Attack&album=Singles+90-98+(7)%3A+Karmacoma jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Massive+Attack&album=Singles+90-98+(8)%3A+Risingson jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Massive+Attack&album=Singles+90-98+(9)%3A+Teardrop
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Oliver+Cherer&album=Sir+Ollife+Leigh+%26+Other+Ghosts+%2B+A+Millying+%26+Mor+EP jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Split&album=Songs%3A+Ohia%2C+Scout+Niblett jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Lightning+Bolt&album=Sonic+Citadel jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=David+Bowie&album=Storytellers jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Demdike+Stare&album=Symbiosis
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Tom+Robinson+Band&album=The+Anthology+1977-1979+(1) jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Tom+Robinson+Band&album=The+Anthology+1977-1979+(2) jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Tom+Robinson+Band&album=The+Anthology+1977-1979+(3) jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Siouxsie+and+the+Banshees&album=The+Scream jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Thee+Oh+Sees&album=Thee+Hounds+of+Foggy+Nation
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Toecutter&album=Toecutter jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=The+Ex&album=Turn jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Hugo+Largo&album=Turtle+Song jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Big+Thief&album=Two+Hands jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Stephen+Mallinder&album=Um+Dada
jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Scout+Niblett&album=Whoever+Your+Are+Now jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=Ved+Buens+Ende...&album=Written+in+Waters jukebox.php?image=micro.png&group=The+Police&album=Zenyatt%C3%A0+Mondatta

Translations are Hard

Yesterday I was delving into the wonderful world of crowd-sourced subtitles, and I was wondering whether TV translations are easy to do.

I downloaded the Emacs/mpv-based subed mode and got started.

And then stopped immediately, because the mode is really geared towards editing srt files, not writing brand-new ones. You can write new ones, but there’s really no workflow offered by that mode that makes it pleasant.

However! While Youtube doesn’t offer to auto-subtitle Swedish programmes, it does offer to mark out sections of the programme that has speech in it. (I guess they do it with elves. Or AI.) So I went to one of the Bergman things, Trädmålning (which is basically a quite different take on the same material that went into making The Seventh Seal), said “I want to subtitle this”, and it made an empty scaffolding, marking out all parts that have dialogue.

And then I went to a service that offers to download .srt files from Youtube (because it doesn’t seem like Google offers this capability itself), and then I had an empty .srt file!

Simple! Modern! Efficient!

(We got this instead of flying cars. People in the 50s would have been so disappointed in this stupid future timeline.)

So then I could start subtitling in Emacs.

Here’s what it looks like:

It’s kinda nifty. When you move around in the Emacs buffer, mpv automatically synchronises to the place where you are, and plays that bit in a loop.

However, it’s really grating to listen to the same thing in a loop, even if it pauses the loop while you’re typing. So there’s a lot of hitting the `M-SPC’ key to auto un/pause involved. And the mode lacks some commands (for smashing consecutive too-fast titles together into one, slower, longer ones) that I was writing while doing this, so doing this one 50 minute play took me… what… five hours?

I’m exhausted.

It’s strange how tiresome it is to do translations. My mind just isn’t up to it: I’ll be looking for even the simplest words for the longest time. “Oh, what’s the word for the thing on a branch… a thin branch… er… uhm… Twig! That’s it! Twig!” Repeat for all the words. Writing in a specific language is one thing, but listening to one and writing in another makes mah branes hurt. So there’s a huge number of er awkward word choices in the translation.

I put the .srt file up at Microsoft Github, and if you want to correct anything, use the Youtube interface. Or send a pull request.

The result is on Youtube. It’s a pretty good play! Very Bergman: Funny and emotionally draining at the same time.

Trigger warning: Some religious stuff may be encountered during the watching of this play.

Some Bergman Subtitles

I was wondering how much work it is to do subtitles for some of the Bergman rarities I uploaded yesterday: Somebody has written a subtitling mode for Emacs, so I wondered whether that was going to be my new hobby.

But then it occurred to me that there’s a gazillion of busy bees out there: Perhaps somebody had already done so?

Indeed! On Subscene I found subtitles for half a dozen of the things, so I’ve now uploaded them as well to Youtube. Here’s A Dream Play, for instance.

Hit the “CC” button to get the English translation.

I’m still tempted to have a go at one of the shorter items myself, just to see how it works…

Some Bergman Things

Some years back, I watched a whole bunch of things Ingmar Bergman had done. Most of his movies “proper” are available through conventional means, but a surprising number of things weren’t. (We’re talking plays like The Ghost Sonata (on one end of the video quality scale) to The School for Wives (on the other end), not his … movie movies.)

Fortunately, there was a guy selling bootleg DVDs of these things, and I bought them all.

It’s been brought to my attention that those DVDs are no longer available, so I thought it my civic duty to upload this stuff (along with some other bits and bobs I got from torrenting) to Youtube.

Here’s the channel. Download the videos before they disappear, I guess? I mean, there’ll be a bunch of copyright strikes, I’m assuming.

And, yes, most of these do not have subtitles, and the vast majority are in Swedish, so this’ll only be useful to the 8M Swedes and the 10K Norwegians and Danes that admit to being able to understand Swedish.

(And some Finns.)

Hm… doesn’t Youtube have some kind of crowd-sourced subtitling thing? *roots around* Yes, indeed. I’ve now switched that on, so if you want to provide English subtitles, be my guest.

Useful Consumer Review

All Emacs users, at one point or another, feel like they need a pedal to get all the keystrokes in. But now I could actually use one: I’ve got a blogging project that requires using a scanner, and triggering that with a foot would mean less bending to reach the keyboard.

So I got an iKKEGOL USB Foot Control Action Switch Pedal and was excited to see just what obscure HID keycode it’s generating. (These things usually pretend to be keyboards, which makes for easy integration without any drivers and stuff.)

So I connect the pedal and start up xev and:

“b”? It sends “b”!?! “b”!!!

OK, I can work with that for the scanning thing, but “b”!?!?


Totally Epic

I don’t really have time for this, but I’ve started blogging about yet another 80s comics publisher: Epic Comics.

Or rather “publisher”: It’s an imprint of Marvel Comics, but was initially running as a somewhat separate entity within the Marvel offices.

Don’t expect very frequent posts. Or at least not to begin with, as the initial batch of things Epic published included series that went on for quite a while, which means that I have to read thousands of pages to blog about them.

But if you’re interested: Here’s the link to the Totally Epic blog.