Been & Going

[Desert Droppings] Frozen Frigid Slushy

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No, that’s not the holiday forecast for Buffalo. It’s my take on a Disney animated film that has been immensely popular among Desert-123014-frozenpicfemale movie goers, ages 6-12. I first heard about Frozen from two young family members who rattled off the plot and then began whirling around, flailing their arms and warbling, “Let It go! Let it go!” (Frozen‘s signature song) I didn’t quite get the story straight, but was impressed by the exuberance it inspired. When Frozen appeared on cable. I decided to watch.
What an experience! Incredible eye dazzling icy special effects; lively  singable tunes; beautiful
princesses; a handsome mountain man; a conniving villain; cute licensed plush- ready sidekicks; and the most abominable, mind-twisting message ever for young girls!

I won’t go into every detail of the plot – ask any 8 year old wearing an Elsa cap with blonde braid attached or primping in front of her Frozen light-up vanity or sporting an Anna/Elsa t-shirt inscribed “Sisters Forever” or coloring in…well, you get the picture. For Disney’s bottom line, it’s not the message, of course, it’s the marketing.Desert--123014--apples
Still, the message gets disturbingly reinforced with each licensed product sold and that includes everything from apples to  inflatable Xmas lawn displays.
The message?  In short- Once upon a time in the kingdom of Arendelle, there lived 2 sisters, Princesses Elsa and little Anna. Princess Elsa had the unique power to produce ice and snow with a wave of her hands. As a child, Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with her frosty touch. Trolls heal Anna, but  insist that Elsa be locked up away from everyone, because her freezing powers were destined to grow stronger as she matured.
Years pass. The King and queen of Arendelle  (Elsa’s and Anna’s parents ) are lost at sea. Elsa, making a supreme effort to control her frozen powers, comes out of hiding to be crowned queen. Within moments, Elsa loses control of her emotions and in a massive Princess Mood Swing, triggers a frozen frenzy and plunges Arendelle into endless winter. Whew! Gotta watch that PMS thing! Elsa, distraught at the arctic angst she’s caused, flees up a mountain where, alone, she’s free to unleash her powers, create a frozen fortress in which to isolate herself, and TA DA cast off her prim Nordic garb for a sparkly blue, filmy, off- the- shoulder gown worn by thousands of Elsa wanna- bees  this past Halloween!
Are you following all of this? Cue music. Twirling with joyful abandon, Elsa sings the song that went viral, “Let It Go!”  She belts out the message that she no longer has to be the “good” (i.e controlled) girl everybody wants, but is free to “let the storm rage on” and exercise the full extent of her sub-zero strength…as long as she stays locked away in her mountain ice castle.

Anybody see a problem here? Imagine if Elsa had been a prince with frosty fingers? Would he have been confined to a “kingdom Desert-123014-malelsaof isolation” and later chained in a dungeon and forced to wear iron mittens (Yeah, they forgot to include those in the Frozen travel dress- up trunk!)? No way! A prince with frosty powers would become  His Excellency, the Entrepreneur, cheered for securing the NHL and Ice Capades franchises for Arendelle, and landing on the cover of Forbes. “Savvy Sovereign Turns Cold Touch to Gold Touch!”
But, alas, Elsa is a powerful woman whose “frozen fractals” and “icy blasts” are reviled as dangerous, rather than admired as profitable assets. In Frozen, the only way to deal with a frigid, forceful female is to isolate her until the heart- warming (literally!) slushy finale. In the final moments of Frozen, Elsa saves Anna from a fatal frost attack, as sisterly love melts away Elsa’s icy powers and she becomes, at last, the “good”  (i.e no more special powers) queen. ICK!Desert-123014-hilaryelsa

Of course this would never happen in real life, right? Blonde ruler? Special powers? Hilary?

Girls! No matter how many Snow Glow Elsa dolls you own , don’t fall for Frozen!
Get your Anna and Elsa dolls out of that ice palace play set and let them run for office, launch a start-up, and buy out Ben and Jerry!

According to the Wall Street Journal, a sequel to Frozen is in the works. What are they going to call this one- Melted? Queen Elsa goes through menopause and scorches everything in sight.Desert-123014-forbes
What do you think, trolls? Will Elsa be a hotty? Will the new hit song be “Let It Show”?
Let it show! Let it show!
Fifty is what thirty used to be.
Let them know. I’m CEO.
No defeat! There’s no heat that’s too hot for me!

Sounds viral to me!

Ok, so now that I’ve gone all Bah Humbug on Frozen, should I close with a cheery salute to Christmas and Hanukkah just celebrated, and to 2015 about to assail us like one of Elsa’s ice storms? I don’t think so. I’ll also leave the end- of- the- year lists & resolutions to other wits and pundits. The obligatory l&r’s  will be as ephemeral as other media morsels. Remember 2014’s child immigrant crisis, Ebola, Cosby’s alleged moral meltdown, mid- term election mud-slinging, Middle East hot spots ( take your pick!) – not exactly gone, but faded from view, as 2015’s Breaking News awaits its nano-second of attention.
Hey! Let’s talk breakfast. Trying to change the subject? Moi? Take a closer look. Breakfast is right on theme. Guess what I found Desert-123014-cerealat Smith’s supermarket? FROZEN- The Cereal! The “Collector’s Edition!” On sale! The box is a marvel of glittery snowflakes and 3- D ish  illustrations of the Frozen characters including Elsa and Anna in a creepy embrace.

Woo-Hoo! You can have your New Year’s champagne. I’ll take Kellogg’s gluten filled chunks  “with snow and ice crystal marshmallows” and  a fairytale touch of sodium hexametaphosphate, blue 1, BHT, and red 40.
L’Chaim! Happy New Year!  Let It Go!
And now…back to watching the New Year Walking Dead Marathon! Ring in the New! GRRRRRLK!

[Desert Droppings] Cooked! Betty Crocker Gets Roasted

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It all began with a delivery of organic vegetables from ABQ’s Skarsgard Farms. A kind, healthy gift from family members.  Thanks!Desert--061214--squash
In the delivery cooler were several bright yellow disc shaped vegetables with scalloped edges like mini UFOs. From some far corner of my brain came the name “patty pan squash.” Was there such a thing and how do you cook it?  I could have googled it, but instead opted for a more homespun approach.  I took down my venerable, classic cookbook, Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cook Book.  “New”- hah!  This tattered tome was copyrighted in 1961, making Betty Crocker (whose name still appears on cake mixes and instant mashed potatoes) really, really old!
That is, if the bright eyed, fortyish lady with neatly coiffed, brown with a touch of gray hair, and a modestly confident smile, was really, really real.  She’s not.  Never was. But even though Betty C. was a figment of General Mills’ marketing Desert--061214--bettyimagination, for homemakers in the 50’s and 60’s, she was the quintessentially perfect embodiment of womanhood.  Perfect wife.  Perfect Mother. And most important of all, perfect hostess.  From Baked Alaska to Yorkshire Pudding, Betty was a garnishing genius, mistress of meatloaf, queen of the quesadilla. Ha! Gotcha! There isn’t a quesadilla to be found in the Betty Crocker Cook Book. No arugula or cilantro either.  But, on the other hand, if you want to wow your dinner guests with “Cauliflower Porcupine” (toasted almonds stuck in a cheese sauce covered boiled cauliflower) or offend them with “Squaw Corn,”
(A skillet concoction of bacon,eggs, and canned creamed corn that would disgust a Native American quicker than the “R” word that football team uses), check pages 422 and 423.

Before Martha Stewart, before Rachel Ray, before Betty Friedan, Betty Crocker reigned –Desert--061214--cookbook
a dinner roll model, a souper star. In my search for a patty pan squash recipe, I began to look closely and critically at the cook book’s familiar, sauce spattered pages. And there it unfolded, like raw jelly-roll dough on a greased cookie sheet, a glimpse of the American woman over 50 years ago. I grinned, at first, at the retro illustrations and the preachy Home Ec/ Ladies Auxiliary tone of the text.
“Bake cake or cookies while washing dishes or cooking dinner.”

“Have a weekly plan for scheduling such tasks as washing, ironing, baking, shopping, cleaning the refrigerator, or washing floors.”Desert--061214--jobs

And this gem-
“Have a hobby. Garden, paint pictures, look through magazines for home planning ideas, read a good book, or attend club meetings. Be interested-and you’ll always be interesting!”

The grin gave way to a teeth grinding grimace.

And the pictures- They’re far  more  disquieting than quaint. There are dozens of Betty Crocker Cook Book illustrations of women Desert--061214--manwifestirring, saucing, and sautéing their little hearts out, while attired in cocktail dresses, pearls and little frilly aprons.  And in the background, the man of the house with hands clasped behind his back to avoid any suggestion that he might be Heaven Forbid! helping with kitchen chores, beams his avuncular approval at his little woman who (fond pat on the head) really knows the way to a man’s heart. (She’d better! To the moon, Alice!)

And then I came to page 14!  Page 14 is titled, “Kitchen Know -How.” Above a list of common recipe ingredients which may be substituted for others in  an “emergency”, is a drawing of a manicured housewife, all dolled up in a matching necklace and earring set, watching nervously from  the window. A group of executive types in hats and topcoats  are approaching the house.
It’s the hackneyed plot of  many a black and white, small screen sit-com:

Hubby is bringing the boss and a business buddy home…for dinner…at the last minute.Desert--061214--knowhow1

Wife: Heavens to Betsey! What will I do? I’m all out of buttermilk for the biscuits and cornstarch for the gravy. And the dog just knocked over my floral centerpiece!

Husband: (Chest puffed out boastfully)  Yes indeed, Mr. Bigster, my little bride can whip up a banquet in the blink of an eye. You’ll have a feast to remember. (Deep manly chuckle)

FX : The film speeds up to show the frantic housewife measuring, sifting, kneading, chopping, frying, whipping, straining, mixing, ladling, sprinkling, and wiping.
Just as she collapses onto a kitchen stool, husband and guests enter.

Husband: Honey, I’m home!
(Cue full-out laugh track.)

And that’s not all.
On the same page, another illustration.  This time, the happy housewife, again in cocktail dress, pearls, and frilly apron, is checking Desert--061214--knowhow2a recipe and punching numbers into the 60’s version of an ipad – a room sized data processing machine!
The title says it all, “If you are a Good Mathematician you may safely…Reduce Recipes and Increase Recipes.”
Did you catch the “If?”
My goodness! A dressed-up domestic dolly just couldn’t do hard math like multiplying and dividing in her pretty little head, now could she?  I mean, really! Math is man’s work.
And the idea of a woman with the brains to operate data processing equipment- why that’s like gals knowing how to drive…Did ya hear the one about the woman driver, the pig, and the fire hydrant?  Guffaw!
Grimace! Grimace!

Hey, 1961! You can have your cook book and your ladies last – breakfastlunchanddinner first  lifestyle back.Desert--061214--forbes
Give me high-fiber, low fat, gluten free, whole grain, microwaveable , lactose intolerant living any day!  Hooray for now when with the exception of Deep South Congressman and some other Neanderthal types, the idea that a woman has a mind, not just a mop and a menu has ceased to shock.
We may not all be Hillary, Mary,Michelle, Sheryl, Indra, or Oprah (to name a few of Forbes magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women”), but in 53 years, many of us have broken through the scrubbed and polished homebetterbewhereyourheartis ceiling.

Oh, and about the patty pan squash…I may not be a “Good Mathematician,” but I “safely” found a recipe on the internet.

Betty, dearest, you’ve got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do!