The Best Lines From The New Yorker’s Article on Carrie Brownstein/Portlandia

Maybe you don’t have time to read this whole article about Carrie Brownstein. I didn’t think I did, either, but then Lauren posted it on my wall and I was at my parents’ house, and, well…it’s a good read, you guys. I learned lots of things. In case you don’t get around to it, here are the best lines.

-”Brownstein and Armisen began building a friendship, but, given that they were living on opposite coasts, they decided that they’d have to work on something together. As she put it, when you’re not dating somebody, “it begins to seem kind of weird if you’re flying around the country to see him.””

-”Armisen and Brownstein text each other every night before bed. Brownstein says of their friendship, “Sometimes I think it’s the most successful love affair either of us will ever have.” Both claim that it wouldn’t work if they were romantically involved. “It would be colder, because we’ve both treated our romantic relationships in a cold way,” Armisen says. “Carrie and I are more romantic than any other romantic relationship I’ve ever had—that sense of anticipation about seeing the other person, the secret bond. But things don’t become obligatory. I’m not thinking, I’m doing this because you’re my girlfriend; I’m just thinking, I love Carrie.””

-”Bill Oakley, a former head writer for “The Simpsons” who had moved to Portland, has helped out on the show. He says, “I’ve spent a lot of time in writers’ rooms. They’re pressure cookers. In most cases, they’re heavily male. You work long hours and many of the people in them have a really negative view about themselves and life.” The “Portlandia” writers’ room, however, is collaborative and laid-back. Some meetings have been held in the loft of the director Gus Van Sant, who has become friendly with Brownstein. “Gus’s dog was wandering in and out,” Oakley says.”

-”In one sketch, Toni, played by Brownstein, reproves a woman who has written an appreciative account of her boyfriend’s sexual technique for the store’s “journaling class.” “I feel like it was a brag journal,” Toni says. “And what a journal should be is a document of misery.””

-”In the bathroom were posters seeking roommates for group houses, including this one: “We are into open and honest communication, dumpstering, crafts, music, raw/living foods, biking, natural building, permaculture, living in shacks and trailers and all kinds of fun stuff like that. We are a vegan house, except that some of us do dumpster dairy.” (When I mentioned this to Brownstein, she said, “If I were into dumpster diving, dairy is the last thing I’d dive for.”)”

-”When Miranda July tried to explain why she and Brownstein had stayed friends since their riot-grrrl days, she began to say the word “ambition,” but hesitated. Instead, she said that they shared “a steady focus on what we are going to do next. We’re always asking each other, ‘What’s the next project?’ And, that being the throughline in our lives, more than relationships, that becomes pretty meaningful, at a certain point.”"

-”It had taken a while, she said, for her to shed the sense that it was unseemly to “take credit for something you did. So Fred is so nice, because he never came from that scene. And it’s not about being self-aggrandizing. It’s just about taking a moment to be proud of yourself, that you worked hard and feel good about it.” Maybe, she mused, it helped that he was a guy.”

-”Brownstein mentioned how hard it was “to stay sharp on tour,” and said that she did a lot of reading. She had James Baldwin’s “The Devil Finds Work” and Hawthorne’s “The Marble Faun” tucked into her travel bag in the van.”

-”But Fred is someone whom I deeply trust, he’s already an extension of what I’d call family…We drove home late and I dropped him off at his hotel. Sometimes I get confused and think, Are we supposed to kiss goodnight? But, the truth is, I don’t want us to kiss, I want us to teach each other how good it can be to stick around.”

Okay, you’re welcome, now go read the whole article!

The Bust DIY Guide to Life & The Best Party Recipes

For Christmas, Chase bought me The Bust DIY Guide to Life, which was definitely a great present. In addition to recipes and crafts, it also has practical advice on things like having a natural birth, doing your taxes, and going camping. But you know I paid the most attention to the recipes.

The book included what has come to be known as my signature dish: Amy Sedaris’s Cheese Ball. It’s also in her entertaining book, I Like You, and it’s always a big hit at parties. I used to make this in college, and I don’t want to brag too much, but I did once receive a 2 a.m. drunk dial from a guy demanding I bring a cheese ball to a party the next night (full disclosure: it was not a potential suitor. It was a very nice gay man. Obviously). This also tells you a lot about the sorts of parties I went to; of course I needed to bring a retro party food instead of booze! Anyway, people really love this cheese ball, including my lactose-intolerant boyfriend. Amy Sedaris knows her stuff.

This New Year’s Eve, H. and I had a few friends over for board games and food. I still like to party just as hard as I did in college. Of course I made the cheese ball, as well as some drinks. Here’s the recipe, which I always halve (and it still makes a softball sized cheese ball).

Amy Sedaris’s Cheese Ball

2 8-oz packages of cream cheese
2 cups of shredded smoked gouda (I almost always use something cheaper, but smoked cheese is definitely better if you really like the people you’re feeding)
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 TBSP milk, cream, or half-and-half
2 tsp steak sauce
2 cups crushed nuts

Let the cream cheese, cheese, and butter come to room temperature and beat them together with the milk and steak sauce. Form it into a ball (it helps to refrigerate it a bit first, or at least cover your hands in plastic wrap or maybe latex gloves if you keep those in your kitchen. I don’t because I’m not a big creep). Roll it in the crushed nuts and refrigerate. Let it soften at room temperature for a bit before you serve it or else it will break everyone’s crackers. Eat way too much and keep saying, “WHY DO I KEEP EATING THIS CHEESEBALL?”

But a party is not made of cheese balls alone! A lady needs booze. The Bust DIY book’s guide to cocktail parties told me that you should have beer, wine, and either a signature drink or vodka and some mixers. I bought some (of the cheapest possible) vodka, but I decided to make a drink because I don’t like beer and I only kind of like wine. The book had a recipe for a Pineapple-ito, which is basically a mojito but with less lime and more pineapple. It was pretty delicious.

Pineapple-ito (adapted from the Bust DIY Guide to Life)

Put a handful of mint into a pitcher. Put in equal parts of rum, pineapple juice, and club soda. Stir in the juice of two limes (or put in a few squirts from one of those plastic limes filled with lime juice…whichever’s your style). Drink a lot and don’t pay attention to the game Parcheesi.

We had a great New Year’s Eve (no thanks to the confusing game of Parcheesi). I’m so glad our friends could hang out with us, and now we have half a leftover cheese ball to eat.

New Year’s Jams

We all know Christmas songs, but an overlooked genre of music is the New Year’s song. Here are some of my favorites!

New Year’s Day, U2

I can’t listen to this first few seconds of this song without laughing, because Alex sings it a lot. This is one of those songs that probably shouldn’t make me happy, and yet it does.

Same Old Lang Syne, Dan Fogelberg

Okay, you probably hate this song because you are not my mom’s age. Whatever. My best friend and I totally bonded over this song when we first met. Why were 14 year olds listening to Dan Fogelberg? I can’t answer that. Either way, I find this song emotionally affecting, so just shut your trap.

The New Year, Death Cab for Cutie

New Year’s often ends up being disappointing or depressing for a lot of us, and this song really sums up that feeling. It makes me think of high school, when I used to stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning on Saturday so I could watch Subterranean on MTV and watch videos like this one (while the internet technically existed then, it didn’t exist for me).

In The New Year, The Walkmen

Because we all like The Walkmen.

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve, Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I was going to post the Nancy Wilson version, but give me a break. This is what the world’s talking about, and by the world I mostly mean every blog and also me and Christine and Chad last night.

Are there any other great New Year’s jams I forgot? Is U2′s New Year’s Day the best song in the world? Let me know in the comments!