Thursday, December 19, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 12/18/19: Pernil Assado Shopping, Testicular Wonders, Zags and Smog

1. I don't like doing things at the last minute, so I bopped into Yoke's today and bought two pork shoulders and the other ingredients I need to prepare my contribution to our family Christmas Eve dinner featuring dishes from Brazil. I'll be fixing a Kellogg/North Idaho approximation of Pernil Assado. It requires being marinated for twenty-four hours, being slow cooked, and then roasted. I'm spending the night of the 23rd in Spokane before picking up Debbie at the airport Christmas Eve morning, so I'll be thawing the pork on Saturday, marinating it on Sunday, slow cooking it on the morning of the 23rd, and roasting it at Carol and Paul's upon returning from Spokane on the 24th.

2. In the early chapters of her witty and informative book, The Truth About Animals, Lucy Cooke gives eel and beaver testicles much of her attention. Eels do not develop sex organs until the very late stages of their maturation and their lack of sexual identity puzzled naturalists for centuries -- no one has, after all these centuries of studying eels, actually witnessed eels spawning -- it's one of the great mysteries of natural science. And it's only been relatively recently that eel enthusiasts have put together what Lucy Cooke calls the great eel genital jigsaw puzzle.

Beaver testicles are another source of Lucy Cooke's energetic fascination. As she unfolds the history of misconceptions about the beaver, one of the most famous whoppers was that the beaver would use its chain saw strength Bucky Beaver choppers to castrate itself when being tracked down by hunters who were after beaver balls, famous for their medicinal qualities. Well, beavers don't autocastrate. Nor is their junk external. If you'd like to learn more about these musky sacs and other fascinating misconceptions and truths about the Ipana poster boy, grab a copy of The Truth About Animals. I can hardly put the book down. Next up: the sloth.

3. Well, yes I can put the book down when it's time to watch the Zags men play basketball. I crunched across the snow in our front yards and popped into Christy and Everett's stadium seating in their tv area to watch the Zags thump the North Carolina Tar Heels, 94-81 -- a score that doesn't really reflect how wide the scoring margin was at different stages of the second half.

Now, granted, North Carolina is experiencing a rare lousy season. It's a very young team and one riddled with injuries. All the same, Gonzaga once again demonstrated their versatility and balance. Their scoring came from all points of the compass, inside, near the cup, and outside, beyond the three point line. At times, the Zags were a little sloppy with the ball. I thought as they built a wide lead they lost some of their concentration and intensity, but these periods of slacking off a bit were short.

It's been fun watching this team develop cohesion and continue to improve, to grow. I doubt they've peaked and will continue to mature as the season progresses.

Back home after the game, I watched the "Act of God" episode of Season 1 of The Crown. The episode portrays a deepening of the Elizabeth/Churchill relationship and portrays the aging Prime Minister's hubris as he confronts the terrible crisis when London was poisoned by toxic smog in December of 1952. Alongside this story, the episode shows us Queen Elizabeth inquiring more deeply into the meaning of the monarchy through conversations with her grandmother, Queen Mary, widow of King George V, played exquisitely by Eileen Atkins.

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