Required reading

December 19, 2006

I love all of Metrokitty’s webcomics, but I’m particularly fond of her latest.


I need to come up with a tag for these Wednesday posts

December 19, 2006

Major booksellers seem to be on a mission to clog my e-mail in-box with in-store and on-line offers. I think I’ve made pretty good use of some of them, though I managed to resist the one-day discount thing Barnes and Noble sent yesterday, since it was only usable yesterday and, well, I had things to do that didn’t involve extra left turns.

And I do have to save some of my retail expenditures for the local comics shop, because I’ll feel like a soulless Big Box pawn if I don’t. So let’s look at the week’s ComicList, shall we?

If the season’s huggy, over-stuffed sentiment is getting to you and you want something a little faster and leaner, Dark Horse offers a tonic in the form of the second volume of Banya: The Explosive Delivery Man. While the title character hasn’t actually exploded yet, he’s done just about everything short of it in terms of action-adventure behavior. It’s a lot of fun, and Kim Young-Oh’s art is gorgeous.

One of these days, I’m going to have to delve further into Clamp’s xxxHOLiC (Del Rey). I read the first two volumes long ago, was baffled and put off by the irrelevant crossovers with other Clamp series, then read the third and became intrigued. So perhaps I’m not quite ready for the eighth volume, but I will be someday.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about So-Hee Park’s Goong (Ice Kunion). In spite of a massive recent overhaul of its web site, the publisher still doesn’t seem to have any previews available for the series, but it’s a what-if story about what Korea might be like if the monarchy was still in place. It was popular enough in Korea to be adapted into a television drama, which I believe is still an unusual development. Wikipedia has a spoiler-y summary of the manhwa.

Oni launches Maintenance, a sci-fi workplace comedy from Jim Massey and Robbi Rodriguez. I read a preview a while back and really enjoyed it.

Viz provides new volumes of Monster and Train Man: Denha Otoko. Monster is always reliably entertaining, and this volume seems to promise more of the Knots Landing antics of saintly Tenma’s hell-on-wheels ex-fiancée, so there’s really no down side. As for Train Man, Hidenori Hana’s adaptation of the story is easily my favorite of the competing versions.


In the kitchen: Ellie Krieger

December 19, 2006

No one really likes to feel like they’re being scolded. If people aren’t eating as well as they should and are devoting too much time to sedentary activities (watching television, for example), they probably aren’t going to plop down on the sofa in front of the Food Network for a reminder, are they?

Healthier cooking doesn’t have an illustrious history in food television. I think executives feel a certain responsibility to provide programming that promotes it, but it’s hard to find the right balance of educational and entertaining, without sending the associated message that network darling Paula Deen is trying to kill you every time she empties a jar of mayo to make a salad.

Past attempts have fallen into some readily identifiable categories. I remember some PBS cooking shows that fell very much into the scolding category, with hosts who pretended they were speaking to a like-minded audience while sending coded disapproval to the people who were actually watching them simply because the show came on after Julia and Jacques and they were too lazy to change the channel.

Then there was a brief wave of shows on the Food Network featuring fad chefs. Low Carb and Loving It tried to capitalize on the Atkins wave without success, coming just as the Atkins backlash was gathering momentum. Calorie Commando had the production values and vibe of an infomercial and focused too much on the mathematics of nutrition; if people aren’t interested in fresh vegetables and exercise, you certainly won’t sway them by adding a lesson in caloric algebra to the equation.

So what about Ellie Krieger, host of Healthy Appetite? Does this registered dietitian avoid the pitfalls that seem endemic to the category? And does it matter?

Pros:

  • She’s not big on reproducing unhealthy foods by substituting ingredients, a strategy that rarely ever works anyways. Instead, she focuses on bold flavors combined into easily reproduced recipes.
  • She avoids scolding in favor of informing. She highlights the nutritional benefits of the foods she’s preparing in comprehensible ways, pointing out what they can do for the body rather than giving viewers impression that they’ll drown in your own fat if they don’t change things right this minute. Her strategies are achievable.
  • She doesn’t dwell on calories at all, in my experience, concentrating more on packing dishes with nutritional value and flavor.
  • Cons:

  • She’s not an especially charismatic television presence.
  • Her portion sizes are generally sensible, but they don’t make for very gripping presentation. Her recipes sound tasty but can look lost on the plate.
  • Summary:

    Free of diet-fad gimmickry and schoolmarm severity, Krieger seems to have found the best approach yet to presenting healthy cooking on television – combine nutritionally packed ingredients in flavorful ways and portion them out reasonably. But she’s book-ended by chefs who are unfettered by anything resembling nutritional conscience who can provide the escapism factor that’s an essential ingredient of this kind of programming. I hope she succeeds, because she’s miles better than any of her predecessors, but I remain unconvinced that she can stake out territory on a landscape slathered with room-temperature butter.


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