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Yesterday’s Meatloaf

October 19, 2007

Considering our Saladophilia (or at least Philo-Saladism), it’s no surprise that we somehow missed National Meatloaf Appreciation Day. Still, since we seem to have been the only People of the Internet not to have come out of the woodwork extolling the myriadfold joys that are meatloaf, we will incumb (To lie down; to succumb, yield. obs, rare) to the rules of the Game and add our own vapor-of-vapors, vanities-of-vanities to the discussion. But first, lest we make the same mistake twice, please allow us to wish you both a happy Davis Square Chipotle day and, for a less provincial holiday, a happy National Evaluate Your Life Day (copyright Wellcat Holidays and Herbs). We can only hope that reading Yesterday’s Salad scores slightly higher than eating yesterday’s salad, (or reading Paul de Man).

Picture courtesy of Erin Covert, one of the best food blogs out there.

Since I have yet to convince someone who is actually an expert in gastronomy (and not simply gluttony) to contribute to the Salad, yesterday’s meatloaf post will have to take the form of a Word of the Day. According to the lexical literature, “meatloaf” is more correctly spelled as two words, meat loaf, and is considered a sub-definition of “loaf, n1” (“loaf-n2” is US slang for the act of loafing), owing more lexically to the shape than the ingredients. The OED entry is particularly helpful for today’s hyper-correct anti-cruelty times. Consider this late-nineteenth century quote:

‘M. RONALD’ Century Cook Bk. 308 Liver loaf, or false pâté de foie gras..is better cold with salad, or used like pâté de foie gras. A loaf of any game may be made in the same way.

So those of you with meat-list (rare; meat lust) for the now banned in many areas foie gras can now serve liver loaf, that false pate, to their friends. Unless of course you’re a meatnithing (obs. a person who gives food grudgingly; from the Icelandic) who can’t be bothered to rise to the occasion…

…In a sense, someone like the OED who only just added “cowabunga” to the English language, decades after the “Howdy Doody” show, and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” spread its fame. One wonders what finally put “cowabunga” over the top. Perhaps the Edmonton Journal’s use of the word in 2005 convinced the OED that the word had finally been sufficiently globalized; or perhaps they waited until such a time as they could treat it with ironic detachment, as in this qualifier in the definition, “Now freq. humorous.” And to think I always thought cowabunga was an expression of intense sadness, as in Eliot, “Cowabunga! April is the cruelest month, breeding/lilacs out of the dead land, mixing.”

Writer’s Note:  Ibiteyoureyes was (mistakenly!) under the impression that the Who Should Write Superman series was started in order to discuss who should write the sequel to Superman Returns, and not the comic book(s). Blame his bad memory, and blame the disappointment that was this movie, and blame The Bush Administration (why not?),  for this mistake.

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My first experience reading Frank Miller was not a good one. I picked up a copy of one of the Sin City graphic novels, “watched” a guy get hit by a car while grumbling campy dialogue for a few pages, and then put that copy right down.

There are two important points that I want to make, before someone from the Legion of Geeks (of which I – in addition to most of the saladeers – am probably a low-ranking member) flips out starts an anti-salad video blogging campaign (leave Frank Miller alone!) against this sweet and innocent textual blog.

  1. Let’s get this much gay at the inset: Miller has some serious talent. As some of his work has shown – he can take everything that is good about what is generally understood as the noir genre – and hone it into something special. Unlike some people, he can successfully turn style into substance. It just seems to me, though, that after a few early successes with this strategy, he got too big for his britches. And then his britches snapped open, like the britches of a certain other someone, and he was left with just some junk hanging in the air.
  2. I, as a person, and a biter of eyes, subject “the everyday” and “the mundane” to unhealthy levels of analysis and critique. It’s just the way I shook out. What does this have to do with Frank Miller? As I’ve pointed out, Miller uses many of the themes and devices inherent to noir, and I am a big, big noir fan – and one that places a lot of value on the importance of this genre’s roots. And I believe those roots should be respected. So when Miller (in my opinion) exploits the melodrama and the wisecracking and the tough-guy acts and the sex and etc. that serve as the genre’s main devices and tries to pass them off as the essence of the genre itself – rather than simply utilizing them to their fullest dramatic potential – that, quite simply, boils my bum.

Now…that being said…I firmly believe in battling my own early prejudices and judgments and giving everything as fair a shake as I can. So come over here and let me show you what things look like 180 degrees in the other direction.

I have read two Miller novels since that first, dirty dip in his bibliography, those two novels being: The Dark Knight Returns, and The Dark Knight Strikes Again. The quality and the success of these novels (particularly the first one) have convinced me that Miller should reach back in time, remember what made him good, and write Superman.

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