Week 13: Crime and Punishment via Jillian Michaels and Kentucky Bourbon

Some days I really do think I enjoy suffering.

I decided to pack one of the more dense, lengthy books on my list with a super complicated and time consuming recipe and then threw Jillian Michaels on top of it.

At least there was booze.

The Workout

I knew eventually I’d run out of reasons to try a Jillian Michaels workout.  I picked this guy out from my local library.  I didn’t have a good attitude about it going in and I’d spent the majority of the week reading Russian poverty literature, so it’s no real surprise I didn’t care for it.

I mean really? Does she look happy?

For starters, this was the first time that I did a workout that the trainer themselves did not do along with me.  I didn’t see Michaels lift a single, metaphorical fitness finger.  All she did was play cheerleader to a bunch of Biggest Loser alums.  But, though I’ve only seen a few episodes of the show (it exploits fat people and really…it’s just terrible), I could tell Michaels was doing her best to seem like the Shiny, Happy, FitnessAngel you should want her to be (in order to buy her videos), rather than the pestilent CrossfitSuccubus featured on the popular show.

If you look at the faces of her marionettes, they tell a different tale.

“I’d hit you if I weren’t on camera right now.”

In all seriousness, though… while the Basic Set of Calisthenics that is being squeezed for profit here is useful (dear God, my thighs!), it’s so terribly boring.  White background, no music, no countdown clock.

I did three of the six circuits and quit once the DVD stopped working.  I figured it’d probably had enough of that shit, too and was trying to tell me something.

The Recipe

To be honest, I tried to find a Russian or Crime and Punishment themed workout for this week to go along with the book, but alas…I guess Russians don’t like workout videos (or maybe there aren’t any in English? More like).  But Russian recipes were choc-a-block on the net.  I wanted to challenge myself, as I knew the book would be challenging.  I picked out this recipe from Olga’s Flavor Factory for Belorussian Potato and Cheese Souffle Babka.

Mistakes were made.  The biggest and most inhibiting one was the size of the glass pan I used.  I either needed a much bigger pan or a much smaller interpretation of 2.5 pounds of potatoes.  But there was also the issue of overpowering onions and smushed potatoes (which could also go back to the pan size issue).  I poured the egg mixture over everything after I’d sprinkled cheese on the top and not before and, now that you mention eggs…it seems I have a problem with yolk separation.

I didn’t even take a picture of the finished product.  By the time the fucker was finally finished (after boiling and peeling and shredding and spreading and baking) I was just so happy to have it behind me.  The finished product?  Tasted like almost any other run-of-the-mill potato and cheese recipe you could find.  Would it taste better if I try again with less (if no) mistakes?  Maybe.  Will I act on this hypothesis? Who has the time?

But I cooked something Russian and that’s not nothing.

And I even have battle scars!

Actually, this was more a dishwashing mishap. The box shredder bit me when I tried to clean it.

The Book

I walked into the liquor store with this recipe for a Crime and Punishment cocktail.  I found the bourbon relatively easily (I do live in Kentucky, after all) but once I discovered that the cordials were going for $30 a bottle, I abandoned the idea.  Instead, when I told her I was reading Crime and Punishment, the liquor store clerk suggested the wine, 19 Crimes.  I got the bourbon as well.  Don’t they look good together?

Alas, my idea of reading this book while completely sauced wasn’t entirely cogent.  The more inebriated I became, the less I wanted to chain myself to this pre-existentialism.  So I read most of it completely sober, but got some really cool booze out of the deal.

Obviously, it’s a miserable book.  A great one, but dripping with misery.  The premise, if you haven’t read it or seen an adaptation, is that young Raskolnikov murders an old pawnbroking woman in the belief that her death may mean life for so many more and that it is his duty, as someone of extraordinary caliber, to do the (in his eyes) altruistic deed.

I feared very much that Crime and Punishment would be too similar to Heart of Darkness, especially when I learned that Dostoevsky wrote it in installments published in a magazine (while destitute after gambling away all his money).  But, rather than philosophical word-salad, the plot was actually quite engaging.  The women, especially considering they were written in the 19th century by a man, were particularly well drawn.  I still don’t quite get nihilism (which is odd, because I really love Chuck Palahniuk), but the book was very thought provoking.  I think it will stay with me.

But the names…Did you know that Russians always use both first and middle names, as the middle name gives reference to the father?  The suffix ‘-ich’ indicates a boy child and ‘-ovna’ indicates a girl child.  Hence, Rodion Romanovich and Avdotia Romanovna are brother and sister.  But they are also called Rodia and Dunia.  And Dutia.  And Raskolnikov.

It was more confusing than a damned Game of Thrones novel.  I tried explaining it to Jason, saying “There’s THREE characters so far surnamed “Petrovich.”  And they’re all cops.”  Ten minutes after I told him that, I shouted from the other room: “FOUR characters named Petrovich!”

But, going along with the theme, I used my down time to watch The Jinx on HBO.  It complimented the book so well.  Talk about murder-by-entitlement!  If you’re not familiar, the show is a docuseries that follows a reclusive billionaire who…just can’t stop murdering people.  It’s so good.

Must. Not. Confess.

I just watched the last episode this morning as a break from this week’s reading material.  Cinematic Serendipity and quite possibly the best illustration of karma one might be able to witness on film.  If you can, check it out, or at least take a look at the movie All Good Things, which is based on the same guy and also has 100% more Ryan Gosling.

Next week:

BOOK: The Brethren by John Grisham

WORKOUT: Dance Party Workout

RECIPE: Cauliflower pizza 

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