Happy Panda Face Toaster
January 19, 1999

Working on it.
I had a weird and wonderful weekend, and it's taking slightly more effort than usual to plug myself back into the regular routine this morning. (Read this: it's 10:28 a.m. and I'm still sitting here in my bathrobe, drinking muddy coffee and writing "thank you/I'm sorry about the carpeting/please hire me anyway" notes to the people I've interviewed with recently.) Check back after the caffeine has kicked in ...

... and don't forget to click here to visit the *Unofficial Ed-"Get-A-Balloon-and-Blow-Wo-Wo"-Kaz Website.* He's expecting you.

Later That Day:

The Happy Panda Face Toaster was my idea.

It's true that Saturday night didn't turn out precisely as I had planned. *I* was envisioning: Bed Picnic. Just the two of us, camped out on the bed, surrounded by cheap Chinese food and new library books, with candles burning and David playing his guitar and a rental movie in the VCR  --  something earnest and sentimental, maybe  --  and the sound of rain outside the Castle windows.

What I got instead was ...

... a Japanese-language TV cooking competition. Without subtitles.

That part is true.

It's also true that I went into the "Iron Chef" experience, on Saturday night, without much enthusiasm. (I've been more excited about bladder infection medication, frankly.)  David has been trying to get me to watch the Japanese-language TV station ever since my first visit to the Bay Area. I would feign interest  --  "Yeah, I carry a big bottle of Kikkoman around in MY purse, too"  --  but after a few minutes my brain would begin to get that *tilty* feeling again. There is just something weird about watching anime Wonder Bread commercials.  I've never been a fan of cooking shows, either ... or game shows, or any sort of televised macho competition (except for women's figure skating, maybe). And from everything I'd read, "Iron Chef" was all of these things ... and less. But a local Bay Area chef was one of the contestants on Saturday night's show, and there had been a ton of newspaper/TV/Internet coverage about the competition, and David was really excited about it ...

... while I was convinced the evening was doomed. 

All of this is true.

But what David doesn't mention on his website is that I not only managed to sit through all fifty-seven minutes of "Iron Chef" without sustaining any permanent brain damage ...

... but that I wound up loving it, instantly and permanently, the way I love all good things that enter my life through a side-door when I am least expecting them. (Lke KFC Honey BBQ Chicken. Or Elvis Costello.)

I was hooked instantly, on the surreal spectacle of the show, on the energy, on the goofily self-important emcee in his lace and leather and black gloves ("the Anti Liberace," they called him on one of the Iron Chef websites). I loved the cavernous set, and the pyrotechnics, and the frantic camera angles, and the overblown theme music. I loved the bits of elegantly-fractured English, interspersed throughout the otherwise incomprehensible play-by-play. I wasn't crazy about the extreme close-ups of *lobster carnage* ... and I wouldn't have minded subtitles, at least during the judging portion of the festivities ... but aside from these minor quibbles, I sat there transfixed. Transported. I was suddenly plunked into a completely different world.

I can't even explain it.

David, of course, was almost unbearably pleased with himself. "You like this!" he said. "You really really like this!" And since I'm madly in love with the big goof, and since I don't mind giving him credit when credit is due, I admitted that yes, he was right  ...  "Iron Chef" didn't completely suck, and that he was right some more, and that I was glad he had forced me to watch it, and that he was right right right, and that I would probably watch it again sometime, and had I mentioned how incredibly right he was?

But the Happy Panda Face Toaster was my idea.



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