• Aug. 20, 2004 | 9 a.m. PT
• Dig to learn ow to natta dig Ali G? Er, translated to plain English, that becomes: "Want to learn how to talk like Ali G?" If you do, type whatever you want to say into the . It's easia than yous think. (Er, it's easier than you think.)
• Some "Star Trek" fans aren't happy with the way their original captain, James Tiberius Kirk, bowed out of the Trek universe. They've started a site that says it all: !
• "Exorcist: The Beginning" is getting that even those of us who love horror flicks won't be spinning our heads around to see this one. But is a fun one, and thankfully, focuses more on the first movie than the others. Question #4 is my favorite.
• Fans of "America's Next Top Model" can see second-season winner Yoanna House posing on the cover of the latest Sephora catalog, and also . But what's with the "Dick Tracy"-like outfit?
• Want to buy a wedding gift for newly married Fred "Wonder Years" Savage? His Bloomingdale's and Crate and Barrel registries are . (He can use the Crate and Barrel popcorn bowl when the next "Wonder Years" marathon airs, I guess.) I wonder what big brother Wayne got him. Can you gift-wrap a sucker punch?
• Aug. 18, 2004 | 10 a.m. PT
Time flies when you're tuned in
I've always kind of liked flying, but it's also full of a million little frustrations. No leg room. Stale air. The sheer boredom of being stuck in a tiny space for hours on end. And then this weekend for the first time I flew . (I get no kickback from them, just so you know.)
What a difference! The leather seats and additional leg room were fabulous, of course, and I actually appreciated the fact that they didn't serve hot food — I never eat airline food anyway. But the best part of the flight was the individual TV screens built into each seatback, all programmed with 20+ channels of Direct TV programming.
Watching TV while flying is the perfect solution to airplane boredom. It eliminates any of the guilt I feel about watching TV at home, where I'm always thinking I should be doing something else — getting my oil changed, learning to weave, running laps. But on the plane, there's almost nothing you can do other than sit and stare straight ahead. TV is the perfect time-passer.
Unlike watching an inflight movie, where everyone has to watch the same thing, DirectTV channels offered a choice. I peeked around and saw some folks watching news programs, sitcoms, movies and, best of all for me, the Olympics. It even distracted us from some shaky turbulence — pretending we didn't feel it, we concentrated on the women's gymnastics team. If they could do all those fancy flips on a tiny four-inch beam, surely our giant plane could muscle its way through the darkness. And they made it, and so did we. The five-hour trip seemed to, uh, fly by. When will the other airlines catch on?
On another topic: I'd like to talk briefly about last night's episode, so if you watch the show and have that episode recorded for later viewing, you're going to want to tune out here.
Those folks gone?
OK, I have to admit I was sad to see Charla and Mirna go. Maybe not Mirna so much, but Charla impressed me with her stick-to-itness (is that a word?), her determination, and her abilities. At just four feet tall, she slapped a 55-pound side of beef on her back when her regular-sized cousin couldn't handle it. So many contestants show up on these competitive reality shows and then whine and complain and try to back out of the contests (ahem — Marshall and Lance, FLO — ahem).
Not Charla. She might have whined about her competitors and a certain bad goat, but she never refused to take on a challenge. I laughed out loud last week when the teams had to travel through a very-low-ceilinged tunnel and Charla was the only one who didn't have to duck, running full speed through it while crowing "This is fun for me!"
Even never-riled "Race" host Phil Keoghan kind of choked back tears when he had to eliminate the cussin' cousins, and I know how he felt. I'll be rooting for cheerful parents Chip and Kim to win, but I'll miss Charla.
I with fond memories of Julia Child. Here are some of your thoughts on the French Chef.
“My sisters and I loved Julia! She would come on right after Sesame Street and The Electric Company and we'd yell to my mother what Julia was cooking, and if it looked promising, we had to write down the recipe. Great fun! Years later I was Julia for a special 70s TV Halloween Party. I'm a 6'2'' 220 lb. man -- dressed in her signature blue shirt with tucked-in scarf, not-perfect hair, and sensible shoes -- and I was the hit of the party!” --Tommy
“First time I saw Julia Child on PBS I was a biology prof in Arkansas (1966-1982) and thought the show was a comedy. The second time I saw the show was the following week, and I still believed the actress was a comedienne. The third time, I realized that here was a bull in a china closet preparing the most wonderful stuff and that I longed to take a bite. She also matched wine with food, a first for me. . . . Her bull in a china shop approach conveyed to the American audience that if she could do it, so could each one of us.” --Millard
“Sweet Julia gone. A culinary loss. May she live on in books and video and be appreciated by all who know her passion.” --C
“In every age there comes one person that will forever change the course of history. Some have been great men or women, but Julia kept us on the ground and remind us what was really important.” --Walter
“Whenever I get freaked out about the fat calories in butter, I start mumbling, "Butter, butter, one can never have enough butter." Tippling a glass of wine, I hear Julia holding the word butter a long time in her mouth and letting it out slowly with a slight guttural sound. With glee, I slather on the butter.” --Dell
“Julia Child was cool, she was real people and her kitchen looked like it was really cooked in (e.g. no little bowls pulled up from under the counter with everything measured, chopped and ready)and like the rest of us mortals she to had to dig out the little pieces of shell from cracked eggs. Damned if it hasn't been a bad 12 months: Bob Keeshan, Mister Rogers and now Julia. I learned a lot from those good folks ... civility being a big part of it. I'll miss them all ... thank God for memories.” --Dave
Julia Child was no Martha Stewart
I was in New York City on Friday when the news broke that . And for a while, it seemed that every person I spoke to wanted to share the news, and their sadness.
For some younger folks, their most enduring memory of Julia Child was not of the real woman at all, but of Dan Aykroyd playing her on "Saturday Night Live." In one of the show's most memorable skits, Aykroyd-as-Child burbles for a while in her trademark chirp, then manages to cut herself and slowly bleeds into unconsciousness, at one point famously trying to call for help and announcing "this phone is a prop."
The skit was so beloved because, for one thing, it was easy to imagine Julia cutting herself and yet soldiering on. It's hard even now to refer to her as "Child," that feels too formal. It was part of her gift that she let us feel we knew her so well that millions who never met her refer to her as only "Julia," but with admiration and full respect.
She was the antithesis of Martha Stewart — Julia spilled things, she dropped things, she made things up as she went along. Her show, and her voice, were somehow soothing and encouraging, suggesting that even those of us who thought we were all thumbs in the kitchen could always try again.
She was no Martha — you'd never catch Julia carrying a , just as you'd never catch Martha wearing Julia's simple blue blouse, which made her look a bit like Alice from "The Brady Bunch." You'd be terrified to cook next to Martha — she looked like she could deliver an unparalleled tongue-lashing if you screwed up her souffle. You'd never be afraid to cook with Julia. Although Martha is a mom and Julia isn't, Julia came across as the mother (or goofy aunt) who'd teach you to cook in the warmest, most non-threatening way imaginable. Would it be that we can all pass on a love of food and cooking to our children the way that Julia did to all of us.
With every loss of a legend like Julia, the photo of our past fades just a little bit more. Food shows are much more abundant now than they were in the days of "The French Chef." In TV's modern smorgasbord, every cooking specialty is represented — we have shows about desserts, about barbecue, about quick meals — we even have game shows about food. We have Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay, Emeril and his "Bam!," and the wonderful Alton Brown and his quirky food-science. And despite all her legal troubles, we even still have Martha.
But we'll never have another Julia, and the loss will linger for a long, long time.
Julia Child links:
• , on "SNL"
• The , in which a woman named Julie Powell tested every recipe in Julia Child's famed "Mastering The Art of French Cooking." If Julia and Julie can do it, we can, too.
• A 2001 New York Times piece on .
• Explore Julia Child's kitchen via this online Smithsonian exhibit (requires Flash). My favorite part: Click on "view selected objects" to get closeup photos and information about various items in the kitchen, including individual dishes, each with its own history.