Maine’s Trans Books

Happy Pride Month! Several years ago, I made an observation… my home state of Maine has produced a fairly high number of books by, about, or connected to Trans people. I thought I’d gather those I know about here.

  • Jennifer Finney Boylan
    Jennifer is a former professor at Colby College here in Waterville, Maine. She’s best known for her book She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders, which documented her transition. I’ve also attended a few readings of the book and was able to meet her on at least one of those occasions.
  • Nicole Maines
    Nicole first came to the public’s attention by fighting discriminatory practices at her school outside of Bangor, Maine. The incidents resulted in a several legal cases as well as her family relocating to Portland, Maine. She went onto star as Dreamer in the TV series Supergirl and the independent vampire movie Bit. I met her in passing at a past Portland Pride event.
  • Imogen Binnie
    I can’t recommend this book, and its very stream-of-conscience writing, enough. It’s clearly semi-autobiographical – the lead character is Trans and works in a bookshop (much like the author). Though I’d seen her band, Correspondences, a few times, I met her briefly when she was working a local bookshop.

    From the Amazon page for the recently republished version of the book:
    • `One of Vogue‘s Best Books of 2022 So Far
    • Buzzfeed‘s Summer Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down
    • Book Riot‘s Best Summer Reads for 2022
    • Dazed‘s Queer Books to Read in 2022
  • Janet Mock
    Janet isn’t from Maine, but the state gets a shout early on in the book. Her boyfriend at the time grew up in Cumberland, Maine.

So, did I miss amy others?

Sunday

In preparation for the (rather interesting) Oscar ceremony this year, I watched several nominated films. This included the Jonathan Larson musical tick, tick,… BOOM! Knowing that I was going to see that film, I watched Rent for the first time as well. I didn’t really know Larson’s story going into it either musical.

I was impressed when hearing Andrew Garfield had not really sung before and learned a few songs on piano for the part. He’s come a long way from the first time I saw him – in an episode of Doctor Who (which included pig men in 1940’s New York).

One particular song and scene from tick, tick,… BOOM! was interesting to me for a few reasons. Although I’ve seen quite a few Sondheim musicals, Sunday in the Park with George was not one of them. Learning the song Sunday was homage to the identically named song from George made a lot of sense – the song felt different from others in tick, tick… BOOM! (and Rent, for that matter). (On a side note, I highly recommend Six by Sondheim, which I also watched after these films).

Not only was the Sondheim connection interesting to me, but also the number of cameos in the scene. This post from CBR.com gives a good breakdown of the cameos in the scene. Joel Gray, Chita Rivera, Bebe Neuwirth, Phylicia Rashad, original Rent and Hamilton cast members, and more all appear in the scene. Lin Manuel Miranda, who directed this version and has starred in past productions of TTB, also makes a cameo.

It must also be pointed out that the Moondance Diner makes an appearance in a non-Garfield Spider-man movie AND Jake Gyllenhaal (who plays Mysterio in yet another Spider-man movie) also has a connection here.

Additionally, I’m including renditions by Raul Esparza who sang both Sundays in productions of these shows.

Risotto

I’ve been on a risotto kick lately and for a good reason… I find I often have seemingly random ingredients on hand these days. Dried mushrooms? Toss ’em in! Some cooked chicken thighs? Great, add it! Leftover bacon from breakfast? Perfect! Shrimp in freezer? Why not!

I’ve actually pulled elements from each of these recipes and made my own combinations. It (almost) always works!

Get it right and it can be creamy in texture, even without dairy. Well, the fake butter helps, too.

Korean Food II

Taking inspiration from my last post about Korean food in movies and my love for our local Korean place, N to Tail, I decided to try my hand at making some Korean dishes. I was pretty pleased with the results (though I didn’t get a good photo).

  • Bulgogi:
    • I did the following:
      • accidentally skipped onion (it was still good)
      • substituted 3T palm sugar for 4T white sugar
    • and didn’t do the following:
      • freeze the beef to slice (just be sure to have a very sharp knife!)
      • do the Seoul-style option included in the recipe
  • Kimchi pancake (aka kimchi-buchimgae or kimchi-jeon):
    • I used a mild kimchi by Kimchi Pride for this round
    • I may scale back on the flour and water, since a jar of Kimchi Pride isn’t quite a full pound
    • The video below is the actual recipe I used
  • Pancake and dumpling dipping sauce
Photo by SenuScape on Pexels.com

Food in Korean film and TV

I’ve been on a bit of a kick lately with Korean food, TV, and movies. Interestingly, food plays a major role in most of the Korean films I’ve seen.

The original Oldboy is the first Korean movie I remember seeing years ago. The lead actor famously eats a live octopus – something he did four times. Second, mandu (Korean dumplings) play heavily into the plot.

Even Joon-Ho’s The Host features food fairly heavily. The main family owns a small river-side food shack, selling beer and grilled squid. Instant ramen is seen a few times; from an empty container being used as a piggy bank to the means of showing family bonds. I wouldn’t exactly call the movie, uhm, appetizing.

You probably don’t think about food first with Snowpiercer, but thinking back – it’s a huge part of the Bong Joon-Ho flick. The poor people of the back of the train with protein bars and the “balance” that’s maintained in the other sections with sushi, steak, etc.

From the main family’s food struggles, to a housekeeper’s food allergies; food is seen throughout Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite. The best known food from the movie is ram-don, a mixture of jajangmyeon and jjampong topped with expensive steak. The name, ram-don, was a creation for the film and is usually called jjapaguri. But similar to his earlier movie The Host, food, and the struggle to get it, is a symbol for family.

Lastly, Squid Game, features a few instances of food, the most well known of which is dalonga. But, like some of the other films above, steak is again used a symbol of wealth and success.

Thankfully, I have a great Korean restaurant here in Portland, Maine called N-to-Tail. I’ve been able to sample bulgogi, Korean fried chicken, kimchi pancakes, and more. At home I’ve been making Buldak spicy ramen by Samyang. My “recipe” of late has been to toss in some kewpie, chicken, and egg, and a vegetable. While not as as good as N-to-nail, Bibigo offers frozen Korean fried chicken, mandu, kimchi fried rice, and more.

21_불닭볶음면.jpg

Bonus: I have yet to see Minari, but A24 released this cool series of recipe cards from the cast.

Thankfully, Binging with Babish has featured a few of these recipes, along with other Korean dishes.

Congee, three ways (sort of)

Up until recently, I’d never had congee – I’m an instant fan. I’ve mentioned Crispy Gai here in Portland, Maine before and theirs was so amazing that I had to try and make a version (or three). These all use the same congee as 1 cup of rice yielded a lot of leftovers. If you haven’t had it before, congee is basically Chinese rice porridge and can be dressed with any number of items.

What I made…

  • Congee with roast pork belly and egg
  • Congee with shrimp and nam jim sauce
  • Congee with bacon and egg

Basic Congee

I watched a number of videos and looked over a few of recipes before trying this one, but overall it’s very easy.

  • 8 parts chicken broth to 1 part rice (I used jasmati)
    • This can range from 6:1 up to 10:1, depending on the recipe used – 8:1 worked for me
  • Rinse rice until the water runs clear
  • Cook in Ninja Foodi on pressure cooker setting on high for 30 minutes and natural release
  • That’s it!

Next time I want to try something more like this recipe and use bone-in chicken during the cooking process. I attempted fried garlic, but it was a little bitter.

Congee with Roast Pork Belly

  • Prepare pork belly according to this recipe
    • Note: I subbed mirin for sherry and used regular soy sauce instead of light soy sauce
    • The pork belly cooking time could be adjusted here, but the marinade is really very good. The fat layer didn’t render exactly to my liking, but this was also my first time trying it!
  • Prepare a poached egg
  • Place congee in bowl and top with sliced scallion, cilantro, roasted peanuts, egg, pork belly, and cooked reserved marinade

Congee with Shrimp and Nam Jim Sauce

  • Cook shrimp using your favorite method
  • Prepare nam jim sauce according to this recipe
  • Place congee in bowl and top with sliced scallion, roasted peanuts, shrimp, and nam jim sauce

Congee with Bacon

  1. Prepare thick cut bacon and a runny fried egg
  2. Place congee in bowl and top with sliced scallion, cilantro, roasted peanuts, egg, bacon, and marinade from the pork belly recipe

Halloween V

I managed to squeeze in a few more horror / semi-horror movies and TV shows for October/November. Gotta say, House, the Haunting series, and Squid Game are probably the standouts from this batch. Mike Flanagan might be a new favorite!

Halloween IV

I’m bit behind on my October/November horror movie watching compared to last year (see posts Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween III) where I hit 30+ movies. I may have been distracted by Dune (both versions!), No Time to Die, Shang Chi, and other new movies (some of which I saw in a real theater!!!).

I’ll concede that some of these lean towards Sci-Fi or psychological thrillers and maybe even outside October and November… my blog, my rules!

  • Dark Star (1974)
  • Martin (1977)
  • Phantasm (1979)
  • Halloween II (1981)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
  • Slither (2006)
  • Attack the Block (2011)
  • Fright Night (2011)
  • The Lighthouse (2019)
  • Parasite (2019)
  • Bit (2019)
  • Love and Monsters (2020)
  • Shadow in the Cloud (2020)
  • The Forever Purge (2021)
  • Midnight Mass (2021)
  • American Horror Story: Double Feature (2021)

I’ll also be updating this list on Letterboxd: https://letterboxd.com/captainq/list/2021-horror-binge

Tip: if you’re looking for something scary to watch, I’ve noticed Shout Factory TV has old episodes of Elvira Movie Macabre, VHS rips, Cult films, and more!

Mini Movie Marathon: Breathless

  • Breathless/À bout de souffle (1960)
    Bonnie & Clyde in France with a dash of noir and Bogart by Jean Luc Godard. 
  • Breathless (1983)
    A remake with Richard Gere where the nationalities of the protagonists and location are flipped (American and French) and made visually interesting. It can’t hold a candle to the original, but it’s an interesting watch to compare the two.
  • True Romance (1993)
    Written by Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott, this film was for sure influenced by both the ’60s and ’80s versions of Breathless. Cars, guns, comic books,
  • Alphaville (1965) 
    French sci-fi noir, also from Godard.
  • Code 46 (2003)
    Michael Winterbottom is a favorite filmmaker.  Code 46 basically a sci-fi take on Breathless (think Alphaville meets Breathless), right down to Samantha Morton’s hair.

Honorable mention: I love 24 Hour Party People by Michael Winterbottom. It’s about the Manchester UK music scene in the late ‘70s to early ‘90s (Joy Division, New Order, etc.).  It doesn’t actually fit in this marathon fest, but my blog, my rules!