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August 29, 2006

Wherein I have a bread-related epiphany

I never realized how hard it is to find a perfect foundation. This is exactly what the scientists who mapped the structure of DNA must have felt like.

Foundation is one of those things I use when I'm 1) going out somewhere special or 2) having a Zelda day or 3) want to spackle something on so I can indulge my Nora Charles fantasies.

Ya'll, I am not right. The Nora Charles issue is almost exactly like my Kitty Carlisle obsession. It involves wearing evening gowns around the house at all hours, and having a floor-length nightgown and robe with marabou feathers on the sleeves. In these outfits I would banter with my cosmopolitan paramour (Nick, of course) in continuous snappy dialogue and tote around a dog that never seems to poop. And solve mysteries that all end in hijinks.

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Conversations in my crazyhead, #72:

Me: Pass me a drink dahling. I feel positively parched.

Imaginary Nick:

Me: Oh this old thing? Just my dressing gown...
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If none of this is making a damn bit of sense to you right now, I insist you back away from the keyboard and run -- do not walk -- to the nearest video store and rent The Thin Man. It's an old black-and-white movie from 1934. It is one of my favorite movies of all time, even though I discovered it by accident (some sixty-odd years after it was actually popular, but whatever).

The Thin Man is basically a detective caper with a hipster cool couple named Nick and Nora solve crime and drink a lot, and they had a dog that became famous. (Notice I'm putting the movie title in bold, but only the first reference. Then somehow switching to italics. I don't know why this is. Perhaps I need to brush up on my AP style book. Moving along.)

Nick is this tall, dashing guy in impeccable suits who used to be a detective until he married the adorable Nora, tall and sophisticated in impeccable dresses, who is very rich and elegant but kind of goofy and sweet. The swanky pair drink a lot and get hangovers and have that snappy dialogue that movies from the thirties always seem to have. "Ah, you don't say!" and "Nick, you're a terrible cad!"

There's a whole series of Thin Man films, one of which taught me some monumental bread-related history:

In the second installment, The Return of The Thin Man, Nick is in his twin bed and Nora is in her twin bed (because of course they had separate beds in the same room like all normal married people) (anyway) and there she is in her floor-length nightgown and he in his striped pajamas as she cajoles him into making her some eggs and toast.

So they troop down to the kitchen (he wears slippers, she's wearing mules with a kitten heel). Once in the kitchen, Nick tells Nora, "I'll get the eggs if you'll slice the bread."

You see, she has to slice the bread for the toast. Slice the bread. Because there was no pre-sliced bread.

This totally stumped me. I had to rewind the scene about four times and savor it all over again. I'd heard all my life that little saying, "Oh this is the greatest invention since sliced bread!" or "Well, that's as clever as sliced bread!" but I thought that buying bread already sliced was something people invented right along with electricity. I had no idea that in the 1930s people could make actual talking movies but hadn't yet gotten the wonderbread pre-sliced concept down pat.

Who says you can't learn anything from TV?


Posted by laurie at August 29, 2006 11:07 AM