Joan Didion Makes Crème Caramel and Erotica Becomes Laundry Detergent: Links You Need to See


Since it’s inevitable that this post — as is unavoidably the case with everything on the Internet today — will at some point become bound and gagged by Fifty Shades of Grey-related content, I figure it’s best to start out with something light and easy: why, this delectable crème caramel from Joan Didion’s recipe book will do! Just imagine slipping golden bite by golden bite into your mouth, noting the gooey goodness, velvety freshness, the melting coolness, the stinging astringency, the saline despair, the flavor that’s, as John Banville once wrote in the New York Times, “measured yet distraught, [like] that of a witness who has journeyed, consciously if not willingly, to the heart of private and, more momentously, public horror in order to bring us back the bad news.”

Perhaps that wasn’t the best way to begin on a warm or jolly note, so let’s start afresh. I certainly can’t think of anything warmer or jollier than the Home Alone films (barring, of course, the interminable scenes of cartoon brutality endured by the thieves at the end either film). The boundlessly talented comedian Catherine O’Hara (who’s currently starring in the boundlessly inane Schitt’s Creek) recently appeared on Watch What Happens Live and mentioned a coincidental reunion with Macaulay Culkin; allegedly when the actor saw her, all these years after they played mother and son in Home Alone, he cried, “Mommy!” Surely, given Culkin’s copiously irony-steeped existence (let’s not forget that he fronts a band called The Pizza Underground), he meant this to be exactly what it is: sincere yet insincere, sweet yet wholly unsettling.

Speaking of sweet and unsettling, Better Call Saul has been lauded both for the surprising pathos and tension it’s already provided in its first two episodes. Anyone who was expecting the show to be awash in typical Saul sleaze and nothing but Saul sleaze has gladly been proven wrong. The show is so good that it holds its own next to Breaking Bad, and seems so meticulous that it’s very much worth scrutinizing for Breaking Bad callbacks, and perhaps future clues. Here’s a comprehensive list of what’s been spotted thus far.

You can’t say I didn’t foreshadow this moment: follow me grumblingly into the Fifty Shades-dominated part of this post and you may just leave transformed and ecstatic. An MIT engineer and a Google developer advocate teamed up to create a program that generates mediocre erotica passages like those found in Fifty Shades. This, for example, was not created by a human, but by the Fifty Shades Text Generator:

He straightens. My stomach sinks. I worry, again, that I’m not enough for him. His nipple clamps peek out of that velvet drawer. What on earth does he have in store for me? ‘You were very disobedient,’ he murmurs, his voice husky, and tingling shoots through me as desire unfurls deep in my belly.

We might hypothesize that whomever this mysterious “he” is may have found those “peeking” nipple clamps at a retailer that sells some of these ridiculous items. I, personally, can’t even imagine wearing clothes that haven’t been laundered in “Flirty Shades of Surf Detergent with Scentsual [sic] Oils.”