Another Dessert, Perhaps?

“We won’t go too crazy for Thanksgiving.”

Also: “How does twelve desserts and 15lbs1 of meat sound?”

In fairness, I think it’s fair to say that we’re getting rather good at this. There was a checklist and everything came out at the correct time (except the carrots and the parsnips; they were sadly forgotten and left in a 220ºC oven whilst we were eating. They were discovered hours later, even though we switched the oven off shortly after dinner itself). But they turned out pretty good despite that. Behold!

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A post shared by Ian Pointer (@carsondial)

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A post shared by Ian Pointer (@carsondial)

Highlights? Obviously, the croissant cubes were pretty amazing, and the disc eclairs make me want to do a lot more choux pastry work. The Viennetta came together quite well, but next time I’d want to make the chocolate sheets even thinner. Perhaps the greatest surprise, though, were the crisps. They were little more than the idea of “hey, we have a lot of potatoes and the Japanese spirializer here…”, and yet they were some of the best crisps I’ve ever tasted. And yes, I am already at work putting together a pickled onion variant for Christmas.

It was a great few days; the house was packed and yet everybody still had space, food was plentiful, and we watched Addams Family Values. A good proper Thanksgiving, held safely even during a pandemic.

The tree is up, and snow is forecast for the coming week. The December of 25 desserts is coming. Be afraid…


  1. Tammy would like it to be noted that the “15lbs” weight includes the bones in the chicken, so it’s not as bad as it sounds. Everybody needs a kilo of meat for dinner! [return]

Bunkering Part Two

Given that this country seems to be looking at this Thanksgiving as a way to get a breakout section in “crazy things people did during the pandemic” when the history books are written, we’re locking things down again.

The country is broken, and half the population is acting like the infected in Crossed. So, one more shop outside just before Christmas, but for now, it’s the contents of the freezer and home delivery until…well, maybe March?

sigh

Yellow Lorry, Fused Lorry

In local news…well, we have a bridge. A bridge that is rated ‘functionally obsolete’, has impressively rusted beams spanning its length, and oh, this week a crash between two lorries that started a hazmat fire, resulting in one of them being fused into the road and burning the hell out of the support beams. Did I mention this is essentially the main connector between Cincinnati and Kentucky? And that the incident has closed the Ohio River to water traffic as they’re a little concerned that it might fall down? AMERICA! WE DON’T NEED NO PUBLIC WORKS!

(please, build us a bridge, Joe)

As our Government seems to be spending its entire focus these days denying the reality of ballot counts, rather than, say the extra 150,000 cases/day that the pandemic is generating, we are once again going back into hibernation. Not that I’d been doing much more than going out to the supermarkets anyway, but we’re going to be bears and come out again in the Spring. If bears spent the rest of 2020 in the kitchen making desserts. But! We did have one last hurrah over the weekend; a very socially-distanced picnic in the second-largest cemetery in the United States. Who knew it was a ten minute drive away from my house, eh? Don’t mind me, I’ve only had the house for three years…

Next week, we begin the Thanksgiving preparations! Five different types of pastry dough! 12 different desserts! What could possibly go wrong??

Gritty Beats Trump

When we tell our children the story of 2020, we will tell them of the Endless March, wiping down shopping with disinfectant wipes, and sniffing cinnamon late at night to make sure we still have our sense of smell.

We’ll also tell them of the week in November. The week of Five Tuesdays and when the call finally came down, how the country donned its masks and danced in the streets. The tales of Gritty, the chaos monster that kept us waiting for days and days, then slapped the hammer right down. Because there can only be one Orange Monster.

As you might imagine, I have barely slept at all since Tuesday. Going to bed distraught at the loss of Florida on Tuesday night, up at 4am and getting involved with blistering arguments with die-hard Sanders supporters, then crawling back to bed after realizing that Wisconsin had flipped. The long day after and coming to the conclusion that yes, Pennsylvania was going to flip. It was just a matter of time. And then the waiting. So much waiting until Friday morning when it finally turned blue. The day was then spent yelling at the networks to call it and to step out of the deferential shadow that they’d been under for the past four years.

But maybe Saturday was the right call, as it allowed most of us to just hit the streets and celebrate. We have stepped back from the brink; while we have a lot of work to do, things look so much better now than they did on Tuesday night.

Also, they’re partying all night in DC and he’s in there having to listen to the entire city celebrating his defeat. It’s petty, but after the past four years, I hope they keep him up all night.

Maybe one day, we will also know the complete story of Four Seasons Landscaping. But tonight, we celebrate. Then we try and take the Georgia Senate seats. Just reading Biden’s EO plans for Day 1 is heartening. Imagine what could be done with a Democratic Senate.

Election/Crisis Times Five

In case you were wondering how things are going, I woke up at 5:30am this morning. You might think I woke up because of the clocks going back and everything associated with that, but in fact it was because my brain knew that the final NYT/Siena polls of the election cycle were being released at 5am. So I woke up. Better than any alarm clock.

(they were good polls, Brent)

In other news, oh, I’m sorry, I’ve just been staring at a monitor full of twitter, polling, and campaign news all week. I’ve got a new massive 4K monitor which gives me so much more screen estate to fill with websites of figures, returns, historical comparisons, and it has a second source for picture-in-picture viewing so I can dedicate an eight of the screen to cable news.

You may need to send help.

Hmm, well I guess also this week I learned that my house probably isn’t falling apart (hurrah for structural engineers), and I continued my voyage into Play For Today-land with the folk horror trio of Robin Redbreast, Penda’s Fen, and A Photograph. The moral seems to be “never go to the country, lest you be used to bear a new sacrifical lamb for the village, or find yourself paralysed after drinking ‘country wine’ and be strangled to death whilst still being conscious.” Great times!

And that’s it for now. We now head towards the Great Barrier of November 3rd.

Everybody Up! Everybody Down!

After four years of doing the work from home thing, I have finally joined the hipster set and have a fancy motorized standing desk (it was subsidized by my company, who are also going to start paying for everybody’s internet connection too as we move to what seems to be a permanent COVID era…or at least until we get somebody who is actually interested in doing things to prevent the spread of the virus instead of running all over the country hosting super-spreader events. In other news…nine days).

Programmable memory, lots of space…and a little more mouse-friendly than the glass desk I’ve been using since 2012. Helvetica misses the crossbar where she could sit on a higher perch, but as somebody that has bashed their knees on it at least once a week for eight years…I don’t mind it being open down there now!

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Nemesis Cat now has a quite comprehensive shelter (with an inner, insulated chamber!), food, and we’ve discovered that she’s a lap cat. And a petting cat. And that she wants to come inside rather badly. Helvetica is…much less keen on that idea, mainly spending her days alternating between guarding the patio window and pouting in sunbeams. We’re trying to work out options (slightly hampered by the oncoming winter COVID storm, naturally) for a more permanent home for Nemesis, but for right now, she’s fine…and somewhat better fed.

Hold on tight everybody, it’s going to be a long nine days.

It's only a Play for Today. Just today.

But so dour! So bleak, so brown, and literally every single play seemed to be about trade union meetings. (Or, in one case, “the expansive tale of a clash between the state and a housing association trying to resist rent rises”.)

Christ! Who were they for? If you actually had the sort of life that involved 1970s trade unions and housing associations trying to resist rent rises, wouldn’t you want to go home and see a bit of Disney? A bit of Morecambe and Wise with Shirley Bassey putting her foot through a step?

Victoria Coren-Mitchell there, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt how far the BBC has fallen. “Who were they for?” Why, the millions and millions of people that tuned in every week to watch them, of course. And the condescension of just assuming that the general public wouldn’t want to watch them…Further, what is the problem with a drama focusing on things like ‘rent rises’, as opposed to ‘the life and times of a complaints department’, anyway? Why is the latter something to be plastered all over the BBC schedules and social media, but,, say, a drama based around similar events of Leeds — United! anathema?

Anyway, Drama out of a Crisis was a great celebration of the Play For Today strand. Some great moments all around, but I had a soft spot for the producer of Brimstone & Treacle explaining the plot in a paragraph completely deadpan, pausing for a beat, and then saying to camera “do you still wonder why it was banned?”1

In local news, Stranger Cat is now known as Nemesis Cat. Helvetica has decided that Nemesis has hung out on the patio for too long now, and is starting to make her feelings on the matter known, resulting in a hilarious afternoon where both cats chased each other around all the windows trying to attack each other through glass. Stay tuned for further updates!


  1. In fairness, it might have been even more useful to explore how a play could have been commissioned, written, rehearsed, filmed, and edited without somebody in the hierarchy saying “you know, this is the literal Devil sexually assaulting a handicapped woman and it makes her gets better…maybe we should run this by somebody?” But I get with 300+ plays to cover, you have to skip over some of the details… [return]

Introducing: Stranger Cat!

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Stranger Cat!

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Stranger Cat turned up last week, wandering around the side patio looking rather hungry, unowned, and unloved. We obviously made the mistake of feeding Stranger Cat, and so they now return every morning and afternoon in the hope that there will again be tuna (there isn’t, but there probably will be a treat or two). Helvetica’s reaction to Stranger Cat was initially one of total indifference, but as the week has progressed, she has taken a slightly more aggressive stance, moving to the highest point on the cat tower by the window to do her best Obi-Wan “I have the high ground!” impression and to let this interloper know that these humans have been claimed already. So step off.

(additionally, yesterday, Helvetica seemed to eat her food and then return to the window to gloat that she had a full belly. Not sporting, Helvetica!)

Apparently, it’s also a year this weekend since Tammy made lifelong enemies while playing Blood On The Clocktower at SHUX in Vancouver. It has been…both a long and a short year. We had vague plans to go again this year, but obviously the pandemic stopped any notion of a) travelling, and b) the convention actually taking place anyhow. But! We probably will watch some of the virtual AwSHUX online thing next weekend.

Also next week, expect the weekly update to be themed around “Ian’s first adventures with a combi-steam oven”. Look it’s that or you get subjected to the panic and obsessiveness that sets in two weeks before an election, so I think the oven is really a better topic for all of us…

Minute by minute we make the world. We make our own world

Ah, October. The heat has been taken out of the air, leaves are falling constantly, and as 2020 decides that it’ll go out with as much craziness as it can possibly muster (the murder bees are back, as well as everything else), it’s time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Play For Today! Come on! You! Over there! Celebrate!!

I’m pretty sure that the first Potter play I ever saw was Karaoke, so after he had died. I can’t say for certain, but I’m guessing that my first real memory of him is the MacTaggart lecture from 1993, a veritable fire-and-brimstone sermon that, like the old sermons of Scargill, all came true, and the “croak-voiced Daleks” won the day.

A lot of his work has faded away with time, to the point where for a lot of people he’s just “that guy who wrote the shows with people lip-syncing to old songs”.

Obviously, my condition is nowhere near as bad as Potter’s was; until he got an experimental treatment in the late 70s (which I wonder if it was a precursor to Humira), he was essentially bed-ridden and his skin 100% covered with psoriatic plaques. But there are days like Saturday, where the pain of moving was a problem and my skin crackles and burns in the newly-crisp air. I think of Potter a lot on days like that1.

All this is a roundabout way of saying that I intend on going through all of Potter’s existent plays on here in 2021. So consider yourself warned. If you’re really good (or bad…), I’ll go through the novels too.

But in October, I’ll likely be dipping into the more hauntological side of PFT. We’re talking Panda’s Fen, A Photograph, and Robin Redbreast. Such fun!


  1. honestly, I’m mostly fine, I swear. Flare weeks aren’t great, and I’ve noticed it on my hands in the past few days for the first time. But not much I can do about it at the moment, seeing as how the pandemic means Humira is currently a terrible idea. [return]

Learn To Become Invisible

Astronomically speaking, it’s the first day of Autumn. But the sun is hanging round like summer’s hungover. They’ll knock the garage down and build flats where I sit.

TEN YEARS

A week of completing things. Well, one specific thing, over twenty-five years in coming. With the final eBay shipment arriving on Saturday, I now own every single copy of The Invisibles in single comic form. Yes, admittedly, I own it all in graphic novel collections, and I have the single omnibus collection. Plus every comic in digital form. But now? Every single physical issue from Vol. 1 Issue 1 to Vol. 3 Issue 1 (…it went backwards in Vol. 3. You had to be there, really).

But that’s not all! This beast also arrived:

The TMK run on Legion! The only Legion of Superheroes that I’ve really read and viscerally hated by a large section of its fandom! It’s a bit like if the Snyder Cut was focused on a day-glo optimistic future of 2995. Except the TMK run is good (o-ho). This slab of a book is 1424 pages long and I can see the bookcase sagging a little already. I will need to put the Morrison JLA omnibus on a different shelf when it arrives…1

My mini-Potter September marathon this week reached Gorky Park. As an adaptation, it mostly stays clear of what you’d consider to be the usual Dennis Potter tropes (no metafiction here, nor visitation themes, no psoriasis). It did feel like a bit of a British affair, as about half the cast of Tinker, Taylor/Smiley’s People turn up in it, and Alexei Sayle turns up as a Moscow spiv wideboy for an entertaining ten minutes or so. Anyway, probably the best 80s film where the plot hinges around six sables? We also watched Bill & Ted 3, which…well. It wasn’t quite as bad as I had been told, but I was surprised at how Reeves was blown off-screen by Winter throughout the whole thing, and it just…ended. Billie and Thea were fine though, and I was glad for one last final ‘STATION!’.

Finally2, Autumn baking & confectionery has really begun in earnest now. Another funfetti cake, lychee bear gummies, and spiced pear macarons! I will be taking next weekend off, but oh, there’s still so much more to come.


  1. The release date of JLA is 11/3/2020. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not just yet.
    [return]
  2. I did think about writing a response to this piece, which I think makes a lot of good points in general, but is unfair to Dishoom in particular given that its focus on the old Irani cafés brings in a bunch of colonial history that is troublesome for ‘both sides’, if you will, and it puts that heritage front and centre in a way that other Indian fast-casual chains don’t (and I really don’t understand the complaint about the Vada Pav — Chip butty comparison — as the article points out, it’s actually a good physical & cultural likeness, so…given that it’s basically a step up from McDonalds or Five Guys, I feel that it’s a good description to actually include. It’s not like Pret talks about the history of French baguettes. But then I decided not to write anything because I’m clearly not the person who can really do that. [return]