Monday, March 2, 2015

What Are You Looking For in a Farm?

So, the search for the perfect farmshare begins! 
Step one, research. 
That's easy enough. Just punch CSA and your general location, and find your nearest CSA farms. 

Step two, pick your menu. 
Now, every farm in my area offers vegetables as the staple in your weekly share. You can't really select which vegetables you will get, but many farms provide a list of what they will be grown in the coming season, and when it will be available in your weekly delivery. 

We'll start you off with a salad.
Some of the farms I researched allowed a limited number of requests, such as less "weird" vegetables, more or less greens, but for the most part, you get what you get. Each week your share will include the crops that are ready and available at that time, which should mean your getting the freshest food possible, which is the main point here anyway. Most of my local farms also also offer herbs and seasonal fruit as part of the weekly share, but in much smaller proportion to the vegetables. 

And on to the main course

Many of the farms I researched also have egg and/or meat shares available. This would include any number of items from chicken, pork, turkey, duck, beef and lamb, depending on where you buy. I am not philosophically opposed to eating meat, but I am pretty thoroughly disgusted by the factory farming of livestock as practiced by large scale commercial agriculture. The whole process seems needlessly wasteful, cruel and environmentally dangerous. So if we're going to continue to be omnivores here, we should strive to be conscious omnivores, right? One of the main pluses of CSA food production is knowing exactly where your food came from, and how it was raised, which is preferably with plenty of room, good food and excellent care free of added hormones and antibiotics.
Ideally, I'd like to be getting as much of our food as possible from fresh local sources. So adding meat, eggs and honey to the weekly order sounds fantastic.
The main downside is the quantities - most available meat shares are for a LOT of pounds of product. We don't eat meat every day here, and we don't have a good place for a stand alone freezer to hold dozens of pounds of surplus chops and sausages. I may have to enlist some extended family members to make this work effectively.

Step three, location, location, location. 
So, where do you want to pick up your fresh batch of home grown deliciousness every week? If you live in an urban area, good news! There is probably a local drop location very close to you. 
For us semi rural folk, it looks like we'll be driving directly to the farm. The one I've tentatively decided upon has several strong positives- 
Good variety of seasonal veggies
Fruit with most shares
Long season (4 weeks longer than the other farms I've looked at, for about the same cost) 
Meat and egg shares available, though the meat shares are on a separate schedule. Veggies, fruit and eggs arrive every week, meat every month or so. 
Bridge shares - extra weeks at the start and end of the season - are also available.  

Looks like this might be the winner. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Foraging for Dinner in the Modern Age

So, I've been interested in joining a farm share, or CSA program for a while now.  If you've never heard of the concept, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it's a way of shopping super locally. How it works is, you buy a share of the produce from a local farm, and throughout the growing/harvest season, food is either delivered to your door or you pick it up directly from your farm once a week or every other week, depending on how much food you'd like to end up with. Contents of your share would include seasonal fruits and veggies, possibly eggs, butter, honey or meat, depending on what is raised at your farm of choice, and what grows well that season.
On some farms, you can even go work a shift or two during the week, to help grow your own food.
I am a horrible food grower. We live in a heavily wooded neighborhood, with a yard that's almost completely shaded by 80 year old oak trees. Not a great place to grow food. I can grow flowers and shrubs like a boss, but my attempts at adding anything edible have been a complete flop for the past 5 years running.
This year, I'm thinking we'll go with a local CSA.
This is the time of year to buy in, for us up in the North.
So I'm off to find a good local farmer, and I'll share the results of my journey as we go!

And now the updates -

Film Count 2015 : 49 
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

The Strangers*
A Good Marriage
Tommy Boy*
Stop at Nothing

Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 12
New this week:

Nothin. Still 12

Books of 2015 : 11
New this week:

Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Best Movie to Not Watch Right Now

This week we did finally get around to watching Jodorowsky's Dune, a documentary that was released in summer '13, but which we missed to see something else at the time that I can't remember now. Anyway, a few days ago, we finally wrangled a copy and got a chance to see this. It's hard to explain how fascinating and painful it is to see a movie about a movie that doesn't actually exist. There is one other similar documentary that comes to mind, Lost in LaMancha, about Terry Gilliam's failed effort to make his dream version of Don Quixote. Jodorowsky's Dune similarly discusses an epic, tantalizing, but ultimately abandoned  attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's sci-fi masterpiece novel, Dune, to film. Whereas Lost in LaMancha is actually cobbled together from what was intended to be behind the scenes footage of the filming of Gilliam's project, including a live action accounting of the unfortunate misadventures that ultimately derailed the production entirely, Jodorowsky's Dune tells the tale of the most brilliant movie that was never filmed.  More than a little hard to watch while in the middle of the submission doldrums - seeing a project that looks so, so perfect on paper, that ultimately comes to nothing more than a brilliantly thorough production plan, and a dream that can never be realized.

Film Count 2015 : 42
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

Jodorowsky's Dune
Some Velvet Morning


Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 12
New this week:

BoJack Horseman

Books of 2015 : 9
New this week:

Not a dang thing. This was a writing week

Monday, February 9, 2015

It's Paperwork Season!

So, today started off with finishing and filing taxes (oh, the joy!) which somehow turned into Office Day here at the Cate household. Looking through stacks of (un-filed) paperwork and sorting a bunch of nonsense that had accumulated in the I'm Sure We'll Need This drawer turned into making phone calls and getting some hustling done. Turns out that calling the car insurance agent, the student loan provider, and the village hall is way more fun when you pretend you're in a roadshow production of Glengarry Glen Ross, instead of just your kitchen. And getting some of your bills lowered because you are a responsible adult with an aging car and a depreciating house value (still more than we paid, so score. I realize how rare that is these days) makes one feel like quite the grown up. 
And now tomorrow is free for writing. 

Film Count 2015 : 39
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

The Imitation Game
Spongebob - Sponge Out of Water
Our Idiot Brother*
The Fifth Element*
Gone Girl

Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 10
New this week:

The Blacklist

Books of 2015 : 9
New this week:

Trigger Warning
The Real Boy

Things I'm Eagerly Awaiting in 2015 this week:

The Babadook, which is out on video finally, I believe. Whiplash, just out as well, and the 4th season of Louie.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Embarking on a Project to Relaunch the Other Blog

So, my darling, charming, dashingly handsome husband makes movies. And watches movies. And loves to write about movies. He puts together some of the most head turning essays on film that I have ever read. But he bangs them out and posts them to his business related facebook page, which, because of the new algorithms, hardly anyone gets to read. So I decided to start migrating a lot of that content to the blog he completely neglects, partially to get the content backed up somewhere other than facebook, and partly to start building an audience for his blog. 
I went through and pulled three of the most recent essays, and posted them here

And I'll be adding more daily. But there are... a lot. So, so many. He writes these things faster than I can keep up. This is going to take a while. 
Anyway, if you'd like to follow the revamped September Son Films blog, we'd love to have you! 

Film Count 2015 : 30
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

It Felt Like Love 
Drinking Buddies*
The Motel Life
The Woman in the Fifth
The Beach*

Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 9
New this week:


Books of 2015 : 7
New this week:

Er...Nothing. I've been working on a revision for most of this week. Waiting for my copies of Thieves of State and Trigger Warning to arrive on my doorstep.

Things I'm Eagerly Awaiting in 2015 this week:

The next Lockwood & Co. book in paperback. And seeing something at the Oriental in Milwaukee in the next week or two. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Instant Playlists

So, I am not a playlist maker as a habit. I've done a few on occasion, but generally speaking, I have no time for that noise. I wasn't a mix tape kind of girl. I bought the CDs I loved, and learned pretty early on that the rest of the regular radio fare grew teeth grindingly stale by the time it cycled out of the top 40 rotation. My brother is the musically inclined one. The one who plays four (or five?) instruments, the one who toured in London with his college band, the one who knows every single artist that hits the popular hive mind six months before I've ever heard of them.
In summation, I was not the kind of girl who kept up with the music scene.
And then Pandora happened. And I don't have to put together playlists anymore. They just happen!

How aptly named, sweet muse of harmony!
Your algorithms play straight to my soul,
With troubadours of old and new alike,
Revealed as if we were old acquainted!

In other words, I have suggestions.
For background music - Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
For running music - Two Door Cinema Club, or M83
For all those bands you can't remember the names of - The Submarines
For refreshing music - Bon Iver


And now onto the weekly updates.
Film Count 2015 : 22
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

The Artist is Present
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou*
Fantastic Mr. Fox* 

Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 8
New this week

The Fall

Books of 2015 : 7
New this week:

Telegraph Avenue
The Structure of Scientific Revolution
The Darkest Part of the Forest

Things I'm Eagerly Awaiting in 2015 this week:

Watching a tremendous list of foreign films that just came to Netflix

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Oscar Edition - The Wes Anderson Conundrum

So, I'm always conflicted about the Oscars, and basically every award program for commercially produced films (Independent Spirit Awards included. You bunch of sexy sellouts) . Honestly, who cares about award shows that are essentially nothing more than marketing campaigns for media properties that hardly need more brand awareness? And then there's the messy knot of trying to hand out merit awards to art, as if one could really be superior to the other, and the headache inducing clash of seeing purely commercial properties and high art put into head to head competition, with one awarded above the others by vote of a phenomenally homogeneous panel of judges.

Which is my way of saying, I don't generally pay super close attention to what the Oscars are up to. But I still do love seeing the filmmakers I love getting recognition, because I want to see more movies from them, and while I'd like to think that merit of work would be enough for artists to continue to get funding, we're also not naive enough to think that it doesn't come down 100% to money. Except perhaps for Terrence Malik, if you're not making a profit, you're not getting backers on your next project. A smaller or more niche film is going to need wider distribution to find it's audience, but paradoxically is less likely to make its way out of limited release, or even escape the event horizon of VOD nowadays, making it harder for the people who would like to see niche films to find them in the first place, because the more off the main road a film is, the less likely it is to show in the 30plex chain cinemas. No, you're only going to find those showing at the three screen urban art houses. Until they get Oscar nods. Then suddenly the multiplex has room on the dance card. It's a vicious cycle.

This year we have two filmmakers who came to the awards via the quirk route - Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson.

Linklater of course directed the refreshingly experimental Boyhood, but long before that, he helmed what has become the equally far reaching Before trilogy, which, if you haven't seen them yet, stop what you are doing and go find them. Now. Don't come back until those credits roll on Before Midnight.

Anderson has been slowly building one of the most cohesive and precious collections of films ever put together, over the past 20 years. And while I love Anderson's work, with his dollhouse chic art design, his impeccable taste in music, and his thoroughly developed voice, there is something I am starting to take issue with in his work.

Anderson's first commercially produced and distributed work was 1998's Rushmore, which, being set in a private boy's school can be forgiven for a certain top heaviness and homogeny among his characters. His follow up, 2000's The Royal Tennenbaums, expanded half a breath to included the same number of female characters, and also featured Danny Glover as Henry Sherman, accountant and love interest of the Tennenbaum matriarch Etheline.
Since Tennenbaums on, his films have become less inclusive, more whitewashed, and even more male centered. Moonrise Kingdom came the closest to cracking out of this shell, but while it featured a female lead, it still centered around a male organized institution, allowing him the convenience of writing a heavy majority of male roles. Anderson writes in a style that I describe as a 14 year old boy explaining what he thinks adults are like, and I mean that as a compliment. There's a challenge to writing from a child's perspective, even if it is in a satirical way.

I love your films, Wes, but is it impossible to write about anyone other than independently wealthy or upper middle class white men?

And yet, I was happy to see The Grand Budapest Hotel nominated, and in so many categories. I also think that lack of diversity needs to be a pressing discussion among artists in both film and literature, and an especially salient point in a year when a brilliant film like Selma is nominated  for best picture, but nothing else, and every single acting nomination was for a white actor. Is there really no work of merit being made by anyone else?

Anyway, on to my stats for the  year. An addendum to this list - books are new to me, but not all the films are first viewings. This is just a little compilation, mostly for me, of what I've seen for the year. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this list yet, but hey, with the new year, there was a perfect opportunity to do some actual journaling with this blog, so why not? Might make for some interesting stats, might not. Maybe you'll be reminded of something you wanted to see years ago and never got around to, and now you're trying to remember what the heck it was. And now you'll know. You're welcome.

Film Count 2015 : 18
Watched this week:
(*not first viewing)

Brick Mansions
Pee Wee's Big Adventure*
The Darjeeling Limited*
The Gambler

Things that are technically TV shows even though I only watch them streaming on the computer: 7

Low Winter Sun
Inside Amy Schumer
The New Yorker Presents
Project Runway AllStars

Books of 2015 : 4
New this week:

Lockwood & Co. The Shrieking Staircase
Miss Marple Complete Short Stories
Object Lessons - Paris Review Anthology

Things I'm Eagerly Awaiting in 2015 this week:

The First Bad Man, Miranda July
Nightcrawler (Missed it in theaters, out soon on video)