Sometimes I doubt my commitment to SparkleMotion

by Ted on September 27, 2004

Imaginary correspondent R. writes to say,

You seem to be going through your regularly scheduled bimonthly funk, in which you are frustrated with blogging. Why not work your way through it by writing a list recommending some of your favorite things, rather than waste everyone’s time with a “whither blogging” post? It’s quite charming when McSweeney’s does it.

Out of the mouths of imaginary constructs, as they say. As it happens, I have some recommendations…

Shaun of the Dead: When I walked out of that movie, I immediately said to my friend, “People are going to be watching that movie thirty years from now.” (Virgina Postrel illustrates what I mean.) Funny, scary, and completely original. If the Oscar-bait biopic Ray has 1/10th of the humor and humanity of Shaun of the Dead, I’ll be a happy camper.

Get Right With God: How often have you said to yourself, “I’d sure love an album full of uptempo vintage gospel, but I have no idea where to look”? Pretty darn often, I’ll bet. I came across this over the weekend, and haven’t stopped playing it. The recordings vary in quality, but it’s worth it. I can’t remember the last time I got an album which oozed with so much joy.

The Heart of the Matter, by Graham Greene. Set in colonial Africa during the Second World War, it’s a sort of moral suspense story of a good man struggling with guilt.

Pants from Express Men: Pants are a very personal thing, and your mileage may vary. Personally, I doubt that I could get custom-made pants that fit better. I bought a pair of jeans from Express Men, and they quickly became my favorite pants. Later, I bought a pair of dress slacks for work, and they also became my favorite pants. Long may you run, Express Men.

No More Mister Nice Blog and The Slacktivist: If either one of these guys posted more, they’d be the ones being profiled in the New York Times.

Chicken with two lemons: I saw this recipe in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The introduction said that this is recipe produced incredibly juicy chicken with no brining and no added fat. Frankly, I didn’t see how that was possible, but I appreciated the ease of the recipe and thought I’d give it a try. (It’s a great cookbook, but most of the recipes are more complicated.)

The book was right. The skin is sort of tough, but the meat itself is astoundingly juicy, with a delicate lemon perfume that you can enhance at will with the juice from the baked lemons.

3-4 pound chicken
2 small lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash chicken inside and out. Thoroughly pat dry with paper towels.

Season skin and cavity generously with salt and pepper.

Roll lemons on countertop to soften them. Stab lemons with fork about 20 times and stuff into cavity. I sew up the cavity with a pin from a trussing kit, without completely sealing it. If you don’t have a pin, a toothpick or two would work.

Tie the legs loosely- you don’t want to bind them to the body of the bird, you just want to prevent them from spreading apart when the skin swells.

Put the chicken in a roasting pan, breast down, and cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn chicken breast-side-up. Cook for 30 minutes.

Raise heat to 400 degrees F. Cook another 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes. Carve and serve. Squeeze lemon juice at your discretion.



Rob Humenik 09.27.04 at 10:06 pm

Great recipe, but I have to ask…

Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?


Rob Humenik 09.27.04 at 10:08 pm

Great recipe, but I have to ask…

Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?


Ross 09.27.04 at 10:11 pm


If it’s funk you’re in, check out The Best of Pulp Fusion, and cue up “The Jam” by Graham Central Station. That’ll cure what ails ya.

The Marcella Hazan cookbook should be in every kitchen. I’ve made about two dozen recipes out of it, and all have been home runs. I strongly recommend her highly-addictive tuna sauce for pasta.

As far as the gospel album is concerned: no “feel good” gospel collection is complete without The Swan Silvertones’ rendition of “Mary Don’t You Weep” or the James Brown/Rev. James Cleveland’s Choir rendition of “The Old Landmark” from The Blues Brothers soundtrack.


Peter 09.27.04 at 11:46 pm

Rob Humenik:

Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

Sorry, it just had to be said.


Henry 09.27.04 at 11:49 pm

Yes – the chicken dish is one of the easiest of Hazan’s to prepare – nowhere near as fatladen as her usual, but just as yummy. I have yet to succeed in producing the dramatic-sounding ‘ballooned chicken’ effect that she claims is possible with this recipe tho’


Peter 09.27.04 at 11:55 pm

The duck recipe in that book is pretty good as well. The odd technique really does produce the crispest skin.


william 09.28.04 at 4:45 am

I’ve always been partial to the Blind Boys of Alabama when it comes to gospel. Especially, “This May Be the Last Time,” and their interpretation (as a musician friend taught me to say instead of “cover”) of that song about being a soldier in the Lord’s army. The whole Lord’s army thing seems to be a sentiment that most Christian fiction writers have definitely taken to heart — and extremes, as any wander through one of those Christian bookstores in the mall will show. But I digress.

The Blind Boys are actually coming out with an album with Ben Harper soon. Harper, by the way, was the final (and possibly best) act at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival.


BenA 09.28.04 at 6:24 am

I strongly recommend her highly-addictive tuna sauce for pasta.

Yes, indeed! Many pleasant memories from my high carb days!


Scott 09.28.04 at 7:37 am

Any post that starts with a quote from Donnie Darko is a-okay with me…funk or no funk…


Sam Heldman 09.28.04 at 12:55 pm

Does the CD issue of “Get Right With God” have When God Dips His Pen of Love on it? And Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt, pts 1 and 2? Please say so. They were on the old LP issue of the same name back in the 80s.


Ted Barlow 09.28.04 at 2:45 pm


Yes, it sounds like the same disk. (Although there’s another disk with the same name listed on which has only one version of “Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt”, so caveat emptor.) I think that I’m going to transcribe at least one of the “Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt”s for this page in the near future.


dave heasman 09.30.04 at 9:18 am

“I’m going to transcribe at least one of the “Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt”s for this page in the near future. ”

“The Poor Man’s Friend” eh? Ry Cooder did it, some while back..

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