Conquering My Fears (With Yeast)

I have a lot of fears. Knitting, for one. Do you know how many years I’ve had “learn to knit something other than a scarf” on my goal list? I don’t know either. I’ve lost track, and yet I still only know garter stitch. Remember that time I was afraid of pie crust? Similarly, I have a longstanding fear of yeast. So many times in my life, I’ve attempted to make french bread, rolls, or a pizza crust, only to have the dough remain a tiny, tough lump. For the life of me, I could not get that damn yeast to activate. In general, I don’t like any food that’s fickle; I stay away from desserts that can’t be made on humid days, or anything you need a candy themometer to make. So even though I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls for weeks, making them never even crossed my mind. I looked up places to buy them. I found recipes that didn’t involve yeast. And then, finally, it hit me like a ton of flour, sugar, and butter: why didn’t I just make them myself? What was I afraid of? A fear of yeast, just like a fear of knitting or pie crust, isn’t a real fear. I mean, it’s not like cults or serial killers, both of which pose a real and persistent danger to all of us daily. The worst that can happen with a pie crust is that it turns out to be not so good, and it would take a real effort to harm yourself with a blunt knitting needle. So what was I so afraid of when it came to cinnamon rolls? Was I afraid of failure? Was I afraid of trying? Was I just afraid of hard work?

Probably the latter.

So this morning, armed with my trusted Betty Crocker recipe, I tackled cinnamon rolls. The recipe in my book was very similar to this one, although the filling involved brown sugar instead of regular sugar. Also, I did not include raisins or nuts.
Guess what, guys? They actually turned into cinnamon rolls! When I saw that the dough had risen, meaning that the yeast activated, I gasped.

They were delicious, but truthfully, they were also a pain in the ass. Cinnamon rolls are time consuming and involve two rising sessions. Cinnamon rolls: the divas of baked goods. Also, you do not need to add near that much flour. I think, in total, I had less than 3 cups in there. I’d recommend making them, but save them for a morning you have a lot of time on your hands. Or maybe just make them when you’re stressed out, because kneading was surprisingly cathartic. These cinnamon rolls absorbed my frustrations.

H. ate two! They got his seal of approval, but that’s coming from a guy who once told me he prefers Pillsbury cinnamon rolls from a tube to homemade, so I’m not sure what that means.

Christmas Jam: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Bruce Springsteen

This song always seems to end up on Worst Christmas Songs lists, which I don’t understand. I love this version. I love that Bruce Springsteen breaks more than Jimmy Fallon on SNL, I love that his vocals are pretty imperfect, and I love that it’s just so damn weird. My friend Kevin sang this at our after prom’s bowling-alley karaoke. The only other thing I remember from that karaoke session was that we were all amazed that the Ray Stevens song Ahab the Arab was on the list. It will surprise no one that Ray Stevens has a slightly conservative bent these days.

Instead of focusing on Ray Stevens, I would like to direct everyone’s attention to how insanely attractive Bruce Springsteen was.

I think we’re gonna need a whole post about this. It’s forthcoming.

Happy Birthday, Alex!

This may surprise you, but once upon a time, someone thought I was cool. The time was pre-2004, and the person was my brother Alex. Then, after I graduated college and he went to college, things changed. Now I think he’s the coolest person in the entire world.
I am so proud of him for already accomplishing so much with his life, and he’s only 22! Ever since we were teeny-tinies, he’s always made movies (and made us all laugh). He made video-films in high school and started his own sketch comedy group in college. Now he’s doing stand up because apparently he knows no fear. He’s also just one of the nicest and most helpful people I know; I would totally be friends with him even if we weren’t related (he would probably not be friends with me though; I’m very needy). His dedication and creativity inspire me to work harder, and as Drake would say, I’m so I’m so I’m so I’m so I’m so proud of him. Happy birthday, Lexie!

You guys, being a big sister is the best gig ever. If you can swing it, I’d highly recommend it.

In Which I Talk About Robyn Even Though I Don’t Really Have An Excuse To Talk About Robyn

Why am I posting a video from a couple weeks ago? One that’s been featured on just about every lady-tainment site and that you’ve surely already seen multiple times? I don’t know. Sometimes I think of this blog as a scrapbook, or maybe a vision board would be more accurate. I just need to pin all my hopes, dreams, and inspirations here. Robyn definitely fits into all of those categories. She is my hope, my dream, my inspiration.
I love this video of Taran Killam recreating Robyn’s Call Your Girlfriend video on SNL’s writing night at 4:30 a.m. This does not in any way remind me of any interviews I read about SNL in the early days, when everyone was coked up and sleeping together and being miserable. 70′s SNL needed more flashlight raves.

Young Adult

Young Adult got a wide release on Friday, so I assume by now you’ve all seen it at least once.

I posted a month or so ago about how much I was looking forward to this movie and how much Diablo Cody inspires me. This movie makes it clear that she is a truly extraordinary writer. A lot of people, somewhat inexplicably, do not like her. I talked about this a little bit in my previous post, but let me reiterate it now: people don’t like her because she’s an outspoken, talented woman. The only thing that annoys me more than sexism is when people refuse to acknowledge their sexism. She wore leopard print when she won an Oscar, she changed her name to Diablo Cody, she wrote a book about being a stripper, and these are all things that annoy you. As if any one of us would not love to write a blog about being a stripper and then turn that into a book about it and then leverage that into a movie career (or, okay, maybe not that exact trajectory). That’s called intelligence and talent and ambition and drive, and you know what? If a man did the same exact thing, this would not even be an issue. As Tina Fey so brilliantly put it in her book, “I know older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women though, they’re all crazy. I have a suspicion- and hear me out, because this is a rough one – that the definition of crazy in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.”

But enough about that. What about the movie? Rarely do we see a movie that hinges on such an unlikable character as Mavis Gary. Not only is she unlikable, but she doesn’t change. Her epiphany comes, yes, but it’s not at all what it would be in a more typical comedy. Even though she’s a pretty terrible person (and a pretty, terrible person), we still, somehow, want to see her find happiness. She’s newly divorced, living in a haze of hangovers and Kardashians, binge eating fast food, and wearing sweatpants whenever she isn’t trying to have sex with someone. She declares that she’s an alcoholic, only to be met with “Don’t be silly!” laughter from her parents. The young adult series she’s ghostwriting is ending, and she’s grasping at the life she lived years ago. Mavis Gary is a portrait of despair, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character with her lack of self-awareness. Young Adult is a pretty fantastic movie, and I haven’t even talked about the delight that is Patton Oswalt.

If you’ve seen Big Fan, then you already know he’s a genius at portraying sad, lonely people who don’t have a lot going for them. He is even more wonderful here.
Also, The Concept by Teenage Fanclub is used in an absolutely brilliant scene, and it will definitely be stuck in your head.