Wednesday, June 20, 2007

a few shout-outs before I go south

I'm heading off to the Villainschloss (the fortress abode of Mike of Naked Villainy) later today, and will be there until Friday, so blogging might be scarce. In the meantime, a few links for you to ogle:

1. First is Justin Yoshida's comment to my post on Thailand and the fork. Justin also has an interesting insight into Thai Buddhism, here.

2. Next is Charles's post on translation.

3. Check out Max's insights re: courses they should have offered when we were in high school.

4. Nathan has an excellent review of the movie "300" up. Take one guess what a classicist like Nathan might think of the movie version of the comic book version of the Battle of Thermopylae.

5. The Party Pooper squeezes out another one, this time on foreign English teachers being criminals, which we obviously are.

6. My buddy Mike, who does his own "100 Below" short stories, recently wrote one that had me chuckling... and then I went back to read it again, and found it funnier... read it again-- funnier... The story grew on me as I began exploring how many levels of humor had been squeezed into so few words, so Mike's post gets a place of honor here at number 6, Satan's favorite number.

And a couple notes before I go:

1. The Maven is right. Rachel Ray has turned into a cthonian nightmare. She's still cute in that Joker-smiley sort of way, but she's no longer the woman I remember from a couple years back, when her program was just starting out. Those early episodes were fairly sedate, featuring a calm, rational Rachel bustling about her kitchen while offering common-sense tips to the viewer. The current instantiation of RR, however, looks as though she's hopped up on speed and sounds as though she's a chain smoker. Spittle-flecked stridency overrides everything on her show now; the meal itself takes a distant second place to Ray's personality. The only person with a body large enough to have such a loud stage presence is Emeril (who hasn't changed a bit). Rachel: I know you're in there somewhere. Turn it down a few notches, chica.

2. I watched my first (and probably only) episode of a show called "Hell's Kitchen" the other night. The premise seems to be that a master restaurateur puts young and eager restaurateur-wannabes through their paces as they vie for the status of Owner of My Own Restaurant. These young people aren't inexperienced chefs; they know what they're doing, but the point of the show seems to be to put them under pressure in an effort to see whether they can manage themselves and each other in a fast-paced kitchen. Inability to do this means elimination from the competition.

What struck me as I was watching this, though, was that "Hell's Kitchen" continues a rather disturbing meme in American TV: the "We Like Being Castigated By Pissy Brits" meme. Think about TV shows where Americans find themselves being put down by their fellows from across the pond: the US version of "Weakest Link" comes immediately to mind-- the host of the US version was British. Simon Cowell's presence on "American Idol" also comes to mind. Even the friendly and largely harmless Colin Ferguson is making us look bad by telling us what's what on late-night TV. And now there's this scary dude on "Hell's Kitchen." We Americans are bitches, pure and simple. I think a good revenge might be to start a show on which a bunch of untrained Brits are forced to work on an American cattle ranch for six months. Or a gaggle of British footballers are taken to the US, suited up, and put through the wringer of American football camp. That would be good TV.

Righto-- Bob's yer uncle, then.



Anonymous said...

Just an aside, Emeril has changed, personally, not personality wise, tho. Personally he's gained close to 25 pounds since his PBS cooking gig, and he also shed his first wife.

I highly recommend any of his restos, btw.

Regarding RR, there's someone who is on the precipice, IMHO, to usurp RR as the reigning queen of annoyance. Her name is Samantha Brown. She does a show on the Travel Channel. The grin. The eye roll. The homogenized accent (she's originally from TX). The "airs." Bleh!

Jeff in Korea said...

In all fairness to Ramsay, he doesn't just do it to Americans. Being perhaps the best and most marketable chef today, he is a bit aggressive, but he is an equally opportunity grump.

Download and watch a few episodes of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, where he goes to struggling restaurants and has two weeks to put them right and make them marketable again.

Gordon is good tv.

Anonymous said...

I present THIS , THIS, and THIS for your edification and extrapolation.

daeguowl said...

I think you Americans already got your revenge on us by inflicting american actresses slaughtering the English accent in "British" movies.

Btw, wait until you see Gordon Ramsey's other series where he goes in and project manages failing restaurants...I heard he's being sued by one of the managers whose restaurant he worked with.

Anonymous said...

A belated thanks for the shout-out & link, Kevin. By the way, I've enjoyed following your authorial adventures in the US!