Archive for February 27th, 2012

Well, actually it is the only movie ever made by Native Americans about Native Americans.

Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox Christians don’t have a big blow out the night before Great Lent begins, like Western Christians do with Mardi Gras. Instead we ease into the fast, first with Meatfare Week, two weeks before Lent begins, where one can indulge in carnivorous feasting before abstinence begins. Then, the week before Lent is Cheesefare Week, the last week for dairy and eggs before we get down to business (that is traditional, anyway; I realize that many do not abstain during Lent and this is rendered symbolic, like the Easter baskets full of meat, eggs, cheese and wine that are brought to church on Pascha to be blessed, whether or not the family has abstained).

As a family we give up movies for Lent, so the last week before the Great Fast becomes Moviefare Week for us. And by the time Lent has rolled around believe me we need it; we are watching DVDs way too much. As a result we have pretty much exhausted the slim pickings at the Redbox kiosk and the library and start watching old favorites.

One of these this year is the wonderful film Smoke Signals, the 1998 Indian-made movie about two young men on a road trip. The film is funny, sad, deeply human, and infused with a singular Indian irony. The two leading characters are 20th century incarnations of the native archetypes of  Warrior and Shaman, and their tale is a classic epic of spiritual growth.

Not least, the movie is delightful because of the soundtrack. There is no genetic explanation for this, as I am pretty homogeneously Anglo-Celtic, but I have always found American native music deeply moving, all high pitched wailing floating above a deep percussive backbeat, and the tunes in this film, both traditional and contemporary, are beautiful. But enough; here is the trailer:

And here is an example of the more contemorary sort of Indian music:

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I love cooking with garlic, and loathe peeling it. Not only is it time consuming but it leaves your hands reeking. And while I don’t consider the odor of garlic to be unpleasant, I am told that those who do not indulge in the Blessed Bulb find it noxious.

Then one day I tuned into NPR and heard a way to peel garlic that sounded preposterous. I had missed the first part of the report and was pretty sure that there was something missing in what I heard, but when I got home I tried the part I had heard, just to be sure.

It goes like this: take a bulb of garlic, give it a karate chop to break it up, then place the cloves in a bowl (the broadcast says a metal bowl, but I have used ceramic and plastic and they work fine). Then place another bowl on top of the first and shake vigorously for a minute or so. Separate the bowls and voila! There, amid the shed paper-like skins, you will find lovely naked bulbs of garlic, ready for chopping.

I know, it sounds impossible, and I am not sure what happens, scientifically, but it works.

And your life will never be the same.

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