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    Precipice - Wednesday July 3rd 2002, 11:30pm





Last night it was so hot and clammy, the bedroom ceiling fan and a wet flannel made vegging out a given. If I had to pick two shows I'd be upset if they were cancelled, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Scrubs would be the two, and they were both on last night, so I was a happy, if humidly clammy and sweaty, pop culture hound.

Last night's Buffy was the Musical episode, the one that got me watching the series. (That and Renee's weekly "so, did you watch Buffy yet??") The previews for it got me in, then I downloaded the music from the web and got hooked. Hooked despite missing completely the initial showing, and then the reshowing of this episode. Hooked by dint of FX channel showing all of the earlier series episodes in chronological order twice daily, every weekday. Always nice to catch up on 6 years of epsodes in just under 6 weeks.

So, the musical, I've read the wildfeed, I've listened to the soundtrack, but last night was the first time I'd got to watch that episode. What fun! Cinematic and funny and witty, all the things that eventually drew me into watching the show, plus singing. Anthony Stewart Head and Amber Benson have particularly yummy voices, damn shame Amber's Tara was killed last season. Course, in the Buffy world, it's never completely certain you'll stay dead, so maybe she's not unemployed.

Scrubs was a repeat, they all are now, but it reminded me of one of my favourite childhood mondegreens. It's a Christmas episode, and one of the characters is losing his religious faith. I'll put up with a little god talk in a sitcom, but this whole Pledge of Allegiance nonsense makes me froth at the mouth. I'm a long term atheist, so that'll give you an idea where I'm standing on this issue. Check out Bev's entry (Funny the World) and John Scalzi's entry (Whatever), I agree with them, and they put it so gracefully. I forsee my own entry, but I'm waiting for the foam to subside.

In a scene where he's running towards a display of Christmas lights, Keb Mo is singing a version of "Oh Sinner Man", an old gospel song.

Oh, sinner man, where you gonna run to
Oh, sinner man, where you gonna run to
Oh, sinner man, where you gonna run to
All on that day

I sang that song in Sunday school, and I sang it just as a thing to sing, along with Nothin' could be finer than to be in Carolina in the moooooornin'; obviously the whole Christian thing was lost on me. Actually, very lost, cause up until my early twenties, I wasn't singing Oh Sinner Man, but Old Cinnamon. Poor Old Cinnamon, running and running, I had no idea why, but it's a good singing song.

I'm a perpetual procastinator, I leave things til the last minute, been doing so since I was a kid not quite getting the homework done. So it's no surprise I'm pulling up to the drive through bank lane at 5 to 5 this afternoon, when they shut at 5. However, today, I had big plans, I was going to leave the house at 4, miss some of the last minute pre 4th of July bank rush. As I walk out of my house, something foofs past my hair and screeches at me. As I'm realising it's a blue jay, it and a couple of bluejay mates start swooping and diving past my big yellow at Charlie, who as far as I can tell it just sitting bemusedly in the driveway panting. (hellish hot here again today, feh.) As I walk over to him to see what the hell is freaking out these birds, I nearly step on this.

This is a baby bluejay, hunched up as close to my bottom step as it can be. It's also panting, looking hot and distressed. Aside from the fact that this bird can't fly, it's having a lucky day. It's so hot all my cats are either inside or completely uninterested in anything involving more movement than ear flicking. I move all the cats inside, just to take this particular stress variable out, and pick up the bird. I know, bird-parents do not like baby-birds to come out reeking of human, but this little beastie was in the line of foot traffic and was going to be crunched if left where it was. He'd also been infested by teeny ants. I've seen nature films, they start off with the teeny ones, then the big ones, and they bite and it dies and I am Not having the fittest of the species played out on my front steps. I gave it a little rinse in an empty hummous container, which drowned the ants and perked it up. Perked it up enough to leap out of my hands and hop under my car. So, fast forward me moving the car centimetre by centimetre so as not to squash the little rapidly becoming a pain in the arse baby bird, picking it up, giving it a final light water rinse and putting in one of the trees where the parents were doing their flyby perch and freak sessions, one call to the SPCA, two stories from her ("you're the third person to call today, must be flying lessons for bluejays" followed by "we have bluejays in our bacyard, but we have a pool, and the babies fall in that and drown" Me; oh. that's depressing!) plus a backup phone number for a bird rescue person in case this didn't pan out, I come outside, no freaking parent-birds, no peeping baby birds. I'm choosing to believe it learned to fly untill confronted with physical evidence to the contrary and it's 10 to 5 and I fly to cash the cheque, cash the cheque, buy my groceries and money orders for Ebay (two Mac mice, one for the new (to us) G4 we also bought off Ebay, and one for the Imac which I'm getting, whee!) and all is fine.

With this clammy humid heat, Jeff and I picture an evil stewardess clown, as you leave the air conditioned buildings. Offering you their pre-moistend warm towelettes and as you open your mouth to tell them to sod off, they pie you in the face with it. Wham, have some of that warm, sticky, nasty heat. All over warm body towel, thanks, I'll take two!

So we did a runner, off to a local restaurant we had a gift certificate for. The owners have two of the same names restaurants, one in the two towns near us. We've been to the closest one, and it's good, restaurant quality Italian, so we're happy to try the other one. The other one makes great pizzas, we're told. This is actually something we should have seen as foreshadowing.

  OK, so, to the chase. We ordered fried mozarella for an appetiser, comes out in crescent shape slices on a really tasty marinara sauce, so far so good. Nice little riff on a standard appetiser, the shape and presentation show they're aiming for restaurant style rather than bought inna big bulk box from the prefab guy.

The bread was as good as the place we go to, chewy, flavourful, and completely scoffed down.

They make it on premises and it shows, really yummy bread. We usually ask for more bread, but we wanted to leave room for our main courses. Again with the foreshadowing. We should have had theme music at this point


the little side salads were also yummy, little too much dressing, but that's a personal quirk, I need to remember to order it on the side so I can have what I want there.

Good tomatoes, nice mix of dark and light greens, just a well done, fresh salad. Done simply, and simply done well.

  The antipasto was where the meal started to slide. Veges were OK, a little more oil than I wanted, but not bad. As I put a salami slice in my mouth, the taste became foul. I'm trying to not engage my prodigious gag reflex, work out what the fuck is wrong with my food, and what the best option of dealing with this half chewed horror in my mouth. Jeffrey said I started to look scarily nauseous so he passed me a paper napkin. Which was good, cause throwing up was the next stage, my throat had shut up shop in disgust. This salami very marbled with fat, as it's supposed to be, but it was completely rancid. Gag. Gag with me a chunk of foul tasting less than fresh meat.
  I'd ordered Risotto and Jeff had ordered Chicken Florentine, and when it came, we'd discovered the disadvantages of having a very healthy take-away pizza business as part of your restaurant. They make great pizzas, but their main courses are second rate. That aiming for restaurant quality they'd been achieving with the salad and the mozarella and the bread, less than stellar at every step past the rancid salami, and into what had to be a rushed and/or forgotten meal here. Jeff's pasta was overcooked, not aldente, and the cream sauce had not been reduced to the proper thickness, so it was all a little more liquid and soggy than it should have been.
  My risotto was complete crap. The rice had the bejesus boiled out of it, so the grains were exploded and soggy, and had no taste of stock or bouillon or any flavour other than eu de tap. Risotto should taste creamy and have a smooth and comorting mouthfeel. This tasted damp.

And yet, we wimped out when the waitress came and asked us how it was, we said fine. I wasn't going to stiff her on the tip, not her cooking problem, and I really couldn't think of anything to say about it that wasn't harsh. We got containers to take it away, I'm going to see if I can add a little flavour to mine (Jeff's didn't taste too bad, garlic amounts were good, mind was the blandest thing ever, the chunks of chicken tasted boiled, it had become the Italian equivalent of overboiled meat and potatoes) with some sauteed onions and garlic, and bake it in the oven with some cheese over it. It'll still be overcooked, but it might have some taste.

We love their other restaurant, so that's where we'll be going. Not a takeaway place, but a restaurant, and a cook who's a cut above the other place.

I'm really not a wanky foodie, if I'm paying cheap and cheerful prices, then I'll accept that sort of food, I don't give a blow by blow review of a Burger King. But this place were offering the dishes from the other place, with the same price list, so had already raised the bar and my expectations. I'll even accept overcooked, but I won't accept it when you fuck up the taste of the food, that's just not on. I'm also not this harsh if you have me round to dinner. If you expect me to pay and you'reassuring me of a certain quality, then it's your own problem if you fail to live up to that. One last thing, no way could they have complained about being stretched in the restaurant section, one waiter to maybe 2 tables at most. Definitely less than 15 people in the restaurant at any given time. I could handle that. Hell, I handle that for a family barbeque. Something went drastically wrong, and we won't be back there.

We don't have central air, just a lot of strategically placed fans and an air conditioner that's about 30 years old that sounds like an ore grinder and has the energy efficiency rating of a Humvee, so we limit the use of that to days when it's been so hot for a succession of days, and the house needs to be chilled, dehumidified and made pleasant for at least a night.

That night is tonight, so I'm off to bed in my pre-chilled room, it's almost as gleeful as clean sheets night!


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Updated 4 July, 2002

Copyright Amanda Page, 1996-2002