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The observer, May 28

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Last week, just before the American Idol finale/coronation, an Idol worshipping co-worker of ours started talking about how she was going to make Jello shots for her Idol party.

We've had a few Jello shots, and we're here to say that it's something of an acquired taste: a measure of liquor, suspended in Jello. In bars, they're usually served in little single-serving plastic cups with lids, the kind you get dressing in with a take-out salad. The trick is to run your finger around the inside of the cup, breaking the cling of the Jello from the plastic, then slurp it down. The effect is like a cross between a too-fruity drink and a raw oyster. Yum.

Spurred by our friend's vow of Jello imbibement, we got online and found some recipes, from the rudimentary to those apparently formulated by the “Wine Spectator” of Jello shots. The basic is: One six-ounce box of Jello in the flavor of your choice (The Observer likes cherry), two cups boiling water and two cups vodka. Dissolve the gelatin powder in the boiling water, then let that mixture return to close to room temperature BEFORE you put in the spirits. Add the vodka to the Jello, pour into those darling little cups (or that 1970s Jello mold your mom gave you), then refrigerate for several hours until the Jello sets. Enjoy.

 

The Observer just heard that the great furniture maker Sam Maloof has died. We try real hard at being a woodworker — a process that's more about avoiding slicing off a digit than making anything of real usefulness — but our efforts mostly consist of admiring the masters from afar. Maloof was one of those: a genius of design; creator of furniture so fluid that it looked as if he had simply whispered the trees into growing in the shape of a rocker or sideboard or dining room table.

A few years back, The Observer went to the Arkansas Arts Center to hear Maloof speak. Afterwards, we had him sign the big coffee table book we have of his work. We're weird about seeking autographs, and of all the famous writers we've ever met — from Joseph Heller to Norman Mailer to John Grisham — he's the only author we've ever had sign a book. We'll go home tonight, and look at his chairs on the page, and dream.

 

We always look forward to summer. Outside, it may be hotter than the surface of Mercury, but in the movie theaters, where we like to cool off, the fireballs are sprouting like dandelions. This makes us happy.

Like the new “Terminator” movie. While we didn't think the plot was all that and a pony ride, it did temporarily sate The Observer's appetite for computer-generated stuff blowing up real good.

We also love time travel movies. LOVE 'em. Have ever since we saw the original “Terminator” movie way back in prehistory, 1984, starring future Gahlifhornia governor Arnie Schwarzenegger as a cranky cyborg from the future, bent on killing the mother of the leader of the enemy of his computer overlord Skynet before the guy is even born. Yeah, it's complicated.

Since then, we've pretty much devoured anything with a time machine in it: “Doctor Who”; “Back to the Future” (I, II and III); “Somewhere in Time”; and even “Timecop,” the cheesy Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle which features — surprise! — time-traveling cops. 

Given the paradoxes involved, time travel is probably something you'd never want to try. Life, The Observer thinks sometimes, is a collection of accidents. Most people convince themselves that those accidents were part of the blueprint to begin with, but we're really all just standing on a scaffolding of toothpicks: one random collision stacked on another, tied together with horsehair. Change anything, and who says you'll get to the same point on the map, or that the place you do get to will be any better than where you are now? No, none for us, thanks. While we love watching fictional people grapple with the ramifications of monkeying with the space/time continuum, we like the future and the past right where they are. We can live with the past. As for the future, we'd hate to spoil the surprise.

 

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