Moving Day (again)

Photo from a blog on low-carb diets.

Since my second cataract surgery was cancelled (twice now) and Rhoda hadn't signed on for a permanent roommate, I spent today loading up what remains out of storage and moving in with Mary Holliman publisher at Pocahontas Press and former Blacksburg Town Council member.

She was entertaining her grandson for dinner, so Mike and I went out to Souvlakis for gyros with tzatziki sauce. If you want to make your own at home, here's Alton Brown's recipe from the Food Network (a channel I became addicted to while living with Rhoda. I've been making yogurt, so maybe I'll pick up a cuke and some mint on Tuesday at Kroger's. Not sure about the lamb. But maybe...

* 1 medium onion, finely chopped or shredded
* 2 pounds ground lamb
* 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
* 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
* 1 tablespoon dried ground rosemary
* 2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* Tzatziki Sauce, recipe follows


Process the onion in a food processor for 10 to 15 seconds and turn out into the center of a tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel and squeeze until almost all of the juice is removed. Discard juice.

Return the onion to the food processor and add the lamb, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, salt, and pepper and process until it is a fine paste, approximately 1 minute. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl.

To cook in the oven as a meatloaf, proceed as follows:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to press into the sides of the pan. Place the loaf pan into a water bath and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat. Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and place a brick wrapped in aluminum foil directly on the surface of the meat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes and feta cheese.

To cook on a rotisserie, proceed as follows:

Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape and place on top of 2 overlapping pieces of plastic wrap that are at least 18 inches long. Roll the mixture in the plastic wrap tightly, making sure to remove any air pockets. Once the meat is completely rolled in the wrap, twist the ends of the plastic wrap until the surface of the wrap is tight. Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, to allow the mixture to firm up.

Preheat the grill to high.

Place the meat onto the rotisserie skewer. Place a double-thick piece of aluminum foil folded into a tray directly under the meat to catch any drippings. Cook on high for 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium and continue to cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees F. Turn off the heat and allow to continue to spin for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees. Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Tzatziki Sauce:

16 ounces plain yogurt

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped

Pinch kosher salt

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced

Place the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl, and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and mint. Serve as a sauce for gyros. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups


The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

I'm old enough to remember Christopher Plummer from 1965 in his turn as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Over a half century later, I got to see him tonight as Dr. Parnassus in Terry Gilliam's 2009 fantasy,The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, in which he plays thousand year-old monk.

The devil, Mr. Nick (played by Tom Waits), you see, had come to the monastery where Parnassus believed he was keeping the world intact with his fellow monks by reading a story. Mr. Nick "proves" Parnassus wrong by stopping the monks' mouths; the world still continues. Parnassus counters that someone elsewhere has continued to tell the story, thus preserving the world. Mr. Nick wagers he can win more souls through desire than can Parnassus through stories and imagination. Parnassus wins and thus gains immortality, but his body continues to age and Mr. Nick offers him youth in order to win the heart of a woman he loves. In exchange, any child he fathers will become Mr. Nick's property when the child turned 16. At the age of 60, in a miracle reminiscent of Sarah's, the Mrs. gives birth to a daughter, Valentina(Lily Cole).

Parnassus has been reduced to performing a sort of medicine show from a decrepit wagon with Valentina and two other troupe members--barker/sleight of hand expert Anton (Andrew Garfield) and dwarf Percy (Verne Troyer)--outside the pubs of London. Mid-act, a drunkard barges onstage, crashes through the stage mirror without paying the price of admission and is thrown into a journey of the imagination that culminates in his being offered a choice between enlightenment and a pub. After he enters the pub, it explodes. Parnassus has lost another soul to Mr. Nick.

It is three days before Valentina's 16th birthday and Parnassus is depressed and drinking, having drawn the tarot card for the hanging man and is about to confess to Valentina when Mr. Nick (who, like a cat, seems to want to play with his prey) offers another wager: Parnassus can save his daughter by winning five souls before Mr. Nick can do so. On the troupe's way to the next venue, Anton spots a man dancing beneath the bridge. On closer inspection, it is a hanging man, (Heath Ledger playing Tony) whom he rescues with the help of Valentina.

Heath Ledger had previously worked with Gilliam in The Brothers Grimm. He asked to play Tony, according to Gilliam's On 12/18/2009 interview with CNN's Andrea Mineo:
he was in London working on the Joker, and at the same time he was working on a music video that he had written. They were designing animation and they needed a place to work, so I put him to work in my effects company. We had a space there and they were happily working. One day, I was showing my special effect boys and talking through the scenes, and Heath slips me this little note saying, "Can I play Tony?" And I said, "Are you serious?" He said, "Yes, I want to see this movie."
Almost anyone conversant with popular culture knows that Ledger didn't live to see the movie. He died in January 2008 of an accidental overdose of prescription medicines while on hiatus before the filming, started in London, resumed in Vancouver.

Gilliam, with a history of plagued productions, was ready to give up the project, according to David Morgan's story, "Resurrecting Heath Legder's Final Film," when his daughter Amy and cinematographer Nicola Pecorini persuaded him to finish. (See also, and an interview with Gilliam on the UK site, The Last Broadcast.)

Gilliam also talked to CNN's Mineo about Johnny Depp's role in rescuing the film:
So one of the people I called was Johnny Depp, because I introduced him to Heath and they had become very close. I was commiserating with Johnny and said, "I think the film's over. I'm going home." And he said "Whatever you decide to do, I'll be there." And that's a heartening statement. That is the beginning of the process of re-imagining the film. It was quite easy to rewrite it. All the premises were there. The ideas were all there. The first scene when Johnny goes through the mirror and his face changes.That establishes the principle very clearly and the rest fell well into place.
And since there were three trips behind the mirror (and perhaps because Depp was only available for a day or two, as he was filming Michael Mann's Pubic Enemies ) Jude Law and Colin Farrell play Tony, on trips two and three respectively. The rationale for the shapeshifting was elegantly accomplished by adding a scene where the initial drunk's face changes while he is within the imaginarium.

I'm amazed by Gilliam's imagination. The imaginarium is gorgeous: see the 12/18/09 photo essay "Designing the Imaginarium," from CBS News. And, despite the opinion of some other critics, I'd say the story is well told and compelling revisioning of Dr. Faustus.