- - Monday, July 5, 2010

Colombian ingenuity

“In Colombia, most things are made out of drugs. Buses, television sets, hamsters — you name it, they’re actually constructed entirely from cocaine. So it will be no surprise to learn that one crafty Colombian has produced a replica World Cup trophy using the powdery substance of which his nation is the world’s leading producer. Says Yahoo! Sports:

“‘The 36-centimeter-high (14-inch-high) statue was inside a box headed for Madrid, Spain. The statue was painted gold with green stripes on the base. [Airports counternarcotics chief Col. Jose] Piedrahita said Saturday that laboratory tests confirmed the cup was made of 11 kilos (24 pounds) of cocaine mixed with acetone or gasoline to make it moldable.’

“The naughty statue was discovered by an anti-drugs agent at Bogota international airport. Rumors that the statue was in a box addressed to a ‘D. Maradona’ are unfounded, and mostly made up by me.”

Ryan Bailey, writing on “Colombians make World Cup trophy out of cocaine,” on July 3 at the Yahoo Sports blog Dirty Tackle

Character building

“A few weeks ago I had the miserable experience of reading ‘Twilight.’ … I actually managed to power through around 400 pages until I gave up and started reading Sky Mall. …

“First off, the author creates a main character which is an empty shell. Her appearance isn’t described in detail; that way, any female can slip into it and easily fantasize about being this person. I read 400 pages of that book and barely had any idea of what the main character looked like; as far as I was concerned she was a giant Lego brick. Appearance aside, her personality is portrayed as insecure, fumbling, and awkward — a combination anyone who ever went through puberty can relate to. By creating this ‘empty shell,’ the character becomes less of a person and more of something a female reader can put on and wear. Because I forgot her name (I think it was Barbara or Brando or something like that), I’m going to refer to her as ‘Pants’ from here on out.

“So after a few chapters of listening to Pants whine about high school, sucking at volleyball, and being the center of attention, the second major character is introduced. Imagine everything women want in a man, then exaggerate it by ten thousand — and you’ve got Edward Cullen. The level of detail that the author goes into while describing Edward’s appearance is remarkable. At one point while reading I started counting the number of times the author used the expression ‘Edward’s perfect face,’ and it was far into the double digits. … What the author has done is created a perfect male figure — a pale Greek statue which the reader can worship and in turn be worshipped by.”

Matthew Inman, writing on “How ‘Twilight’ Works,” at his site the Oatmeal

Culinary images

“Not until the 1960s did food begin to be directly represented in movies. Julia Child’s televised approach to cooking seems to have augured the change. The sight of the ungainly Child clomping around the kitchen, mopping her brow with a dish towel, and missing the pan in flipping a pancake (a scene re-created in ‘Julie & Julia’) was a departure from the image of prescribed routine and feminine propriety associated with the fictional Betty Crocker and the airbrushed Donna Reed.

“Child was the forerunner of a more unfettered, even transgressive, representation of food that would appear in films of the 1960s and ‘70s: the lascivious eating scene in ‘Tom Jones’ (1963); the deconstruction of a sandwich by Jack Nicholson in ‘Five Easy Pieces’ (1970); the grotesque gourmet meals, meant to mirror the grotesque crimes, in ‘Frenzy’ (1972); the food fight in ‘Animal House’ (1978). In ‘The Godfather’ (1972), Clemenza makes spaghetti sauce between killing people, and delivers what must be one of the most cited lines in movie history (at least over dessert in Italian restaurants): ‘Leave the gun, take the cannoli.’ “

Paula Marantz Cohen, writing on “Eat Drink Actor Director,” on Jan. 22 at the Smart Set