Ricki Cooks the Book – ‘wichcraft

This is the second installment in my new series wherein I take a cookbook I wanted desperately, bought, and then proceeded to stare at the pretty pictures of and not at all cook from for a good long time. And it’s the first one where I’m actually doing that, because the first installment involved a book I’d just purchased.

So I cooked from Tom Colicchio’s ‘wichcraft.  For the none of you that don’t know, Tom Colicchio is the head judge on “Top Chef”. I pretty much love him on “Top Chef.” I think he’s really smart about food, and I think he has a very clear point of view when he cooks, but I also think he’s very good about judging the cheftestants on their own terms. He tries to understand what their point of view is, and what they’re trying to accomplish with their food, and then judges them on how well they’ve lived up to that. So as embarrassed as I am to be using a “celebrity” cookbook, I do really like and respect Tom.

I have not, sadly, eaten at any of his restaurants. Because I don’t live near any. And we rarely have the breathing room, when I’m in NJ, to go into the city and go out someplace nice. Maybe soon.

In any event, this book comes out of his ‘wichcraft restaurants, where he basically crafts the best sandwiches he can make. In fact, the tagline for the book is “Craft a sandwich into a meal – and a meal into a sandwich.” And it’s done in conjunction with his ‘witchcraft dude, Sisha Ortuzar.

So I chose to make the Pork Sausage with Pickled Grilled Fennel, Ricotta, and Arugula. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 bulb fennel, halved and cut lengthwise into 1/4″ slices (I used two bulbs. And now, surprise surprise, I have leftovers.) (I had no idea what he meant by ‘halved’ in this context, so I just sliced them as I thought proper.)

5 tsp extra-virgin olive oil (Do I need to tell you I didn’t measure this out exactly?)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (Are there people who would pick up this book who don’t already know to use kosher salt and freshly ground pepper?)

2 tsp white wine vinegar (Again, did not measure exactly.)

1 lb bulk sweet Italian sausage (not in casing) (Okay, so I got “country style” sausage at my local Fresh Market. Because that’s not quite the same as Italian, I added some oregano and fennel seeds and crushed red pepper to the meat to give it some more flavor. I added too much crushed red pepper.) (Also, Tom does note – or, rather, Rhona Silverbush, who wrote the text, helps Tom note – that you can just buy links and cut the meat out of the casings. It’s not hard.)

2 cups arugula

1 tsp balsamic vinegar (Again, do I need to tell you?)

4 ciabatta rolls

8 oz ricotta cheese (And for the last time, do I need to tell you?) (Also, I bought just the regular ricotta cheese at Fresh Market. I should have held out for the homemade stuff.)

1. In a bowl, toss the fennel with some oil and salt and pepper. Then put it in a grill pan or over a grill on high heat. When it’s slightly charred (The book says one minute; it took me a lot longer than that. Then again, I was using a skillet.) remove and transfer to a bowl with the white wine vinegar. Toss and let sit for an hour or more.

2. Form sausage into four patties. Cook in skillet with a little oil, five minutes a side.

3. In a bowl, season arugula with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

4. Cut ciabatta rolls in half. (No, seriously, he tells you this. Man, if you don’t know “cut roll in half” is a major part of making a sandwich, I think this is not the book for you.) Place fennel on bottom. Then sausage patty. The ricotta. Then arugula. Then other half of roll. Voila! Sandwich!

So, my take? Well, for one thing, Jason, of course, needed to slather his in barbecue sauce before he liked it. For another, the ciabatta rolls I got at Fresh Market were simply too hard. I think either not ciabatta or some other bakery’s ciabatta next time. Fresh Market’s bakery has other good stuff. But not so much the ciabatta rolls.

Finally, it struck me that this was a case where this would be a better meal than a sandwich. As a sandwich, the ricotta tends to slip everywhere and maybe I didn’t cut it right, but the fennel is sort of hard to handle. If I served crumbled sausage, ricotta, pickled, grilled fennel, and arugula over pasta, that might have been tastier.

Is that just because I think everything is tastier over pasta?

Actually, you know how this would be really amazing? If I took all the ingredients, chopped them up real small, and stuffed ravioli with them.

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Reframing Contraception, or, Why Men Need Contraception, Too

Here is how human reproduction DOES NOT work. A man places his penis in a woman’s vagina. She allows this because she is a slutty slutty slut who sluts. Her whorish delight in having a man place his penis inside her spontaneously creates a baby inside her womb, a sort of amoeba-like clone of her. Sometimes the wanton trollop has been contained by marriage to a just and Godly man, whose piety has been rewarded in financial security, in which case the baby is a blessing to be welcomed. But in some cases, she’s allowing men to whom she’s not married to put their penii* inside her. Then when a baby spontaneously appears in her womb, she sucks state resources away to pay for her selfish, child-having lifestyle. There are obviously no other circumstances from which a child might issue than the two we’ve just described.

Here is how human reproduction DOES work. A man places his penis in (or sometimes just near, if my mid-nineties sex ed can be trusted) and ejaculates. His ejaculate, or semen, contains spermatozoa, or sperm. One of these sperm combines with one of the woman’s ova, or eggs. That combination of sperm and egg then nestles itself in the lining of the woman’s uterus, lives there for nine months, give or take, and then exits her womb.

Let me draw your attention to the key difference here. In the first scenario, the baby is entirely the woman’s. It is created only out of her own sluttiness and its genetic material is exclusively hers. Therefore, all of the responsibility for the child falls exclusively on the woman.

But, and I know this might come as a shock to those of you who’ve been listening to certain pundits speak on the question of who should have access to contraception, that’s not actually how human reproduction works. In fact, human offspring are the product – and therefore the responsibility – of a woman AND a man!

Now, I’ll wait a minute as you digest this piece of shocking information. But then let’s apply this new knowledge to questions about contraception. In any heterosexual sex act, the couple must decide if they wish for a baby to result, or not. If they do not, they must take steps to prevent such an occurrence. One method of choice in this country is the birth control pill. If a person is in a monogamous pair, or in other ways limits his or her sexual partnerships, it may be the only method.

Now, the pill only works if the woman takes it. That’s just how it’s designed. So the woman is required to take on the chemical alterations that the pill produces. Some are good – skin clearing and periods being less of a pain in the neck are two – and some are difficult to bear – such as libido depression and weight gain and other, nastier ones occasionally. And the woman is frequently also responsible for paying for it. But the fact remains that, most of the time, both the male and female parties to a heterosexual sex act require either the wherewithal to have a child, or reliable contraception.

So let’s please stop talking about contraception as if it’s only a women’s issue, okay? I know that it affects women MORE than it affects men – but that’s only because we frequently pretend that the first scenario there is the real one. We need to stop doing that.

*ETA – My husband wants me to let you know the correct pluralization of “penis” is not “penii” but “penes”. Because he is a dorky dorky dork. Who dorks.

Obama’s First Speech After the Republican Ticket is Announced

Here’s how I hope it goes-

“My fellow Americans . . . Really? You really want me to ‘run’ against . . . him? Really, guys?”

(eyeroll)

Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to ‘run’ . . . the country. Like I do now. I’m going to keep awesoming while these fools keep . . . doing whatever the hell they’re doing, and, you know, I’ll see you in November for my victory speech.

I mean, not for nothing, but we all need the women’s vote, and he’s going to shut down contraception while I sing soulfully and self-deprecatingly. I create a NEED for contraception, bitches!

Oh, and you left-wing Democrats? All two of you? I know you’re mad at me. I didn’t close Guantanamo, I didn’t put any bankers in jail, and my AG is pretending the words ‘due process’ don’t really refer to anything specific. You know what? I don’t give a fuck. Because the guy running against me is your worst nightmare. So you’re going to back me for fear of him.

Oh, yeah, and I killed Osama. So suck on that.”

Lessons to Unlearn from “Smash”

Oy, am I going to have to do this one now?

Lesson: Threatening a woman is one way to show you you loooooove her. In last week’s episode, Michael, the guy playing Joe DiMaggio in the musical about Marilyn Monroe that serves as this show’s premise, made out with Julia, the lyricist/book writer for the Marilyn musical. They had a fling five years ago, on another show they did together. At the time, she was married with a kid and he was single. Now they are both married with kids.

So naturally in this episode, Julia basically wants to pretend that kiss – which was quite a kiss – never happened and wants Michael to leave her alone and not talk to her and not try to be alone with her and DEFINITELY not kiss her. Michael, for whatever reason, is having no qualms about cheating on his wife or endangering his child’s well-being, and wants to talk to her. He badgers her at work. He calls her at home and has a pleasant chat with her husband.  When she tells him to leave her alone, he threatens to make a scene at a rehearsal so that their affair will become known to all and sundry in her working life. He calls her at home and has a pleasant chat with her husband.

Then they fall into each other’s arms because how can you resist a love so rare and true?

The truth: Men need to respect boundaries. No, wait. All people need to respect boundaries. If a person tells you, “I do not want to see you,” then you don’t get to see them. You sure as hell don’t get to threaten their lives to make them see you. Okay, he didn’t threaten her life. Just her work and her family. Which is what she does with her life.

Look, through all this coercing and threatening, they have sex. And, if one can go by the not-at-all discrete smiles on their faces the next day, it’s awesome. So some of you might say, “See, see, the threatening and the blackmail is because he looooooves her and it’s okay.”

Right. But let’s remember this is fiction. The storytellers chose to use those behaviors to clue us in to Michael’s deep emotional thing for Julia. The storytellers chose to use positive post-sex guilty smiles to let us know that their deep emotional mutual thing is totally mutual and awesome.

And that in and of itself is the problem. Threatening someone should be the first act of a person the storytellers are going to show is dangerous. Not hotly passionate.

Darlings, some of you might see this as more goody-goody prating from my alter ego. You think that she is under the impression that dark passion and crazy emotional behavior have no place in love and lust. But darlings, the truth is, the essence of great sex is the knowledge that you can trust your lover to keep his or her counsel. If you do something deliciously dirty with your lover, something that was rollicking good fun but which would be highly embarrassing to you to have known widely, and then your lover says to you the next day, “I will tell everyone you did that thing with me unless you . . .”, you will not only feel terrible about having done that thing which was yesterday delicious and today is only dirty, you will not be inclined to do other embarrassing and dirty things with your lover, no matter how delicious a prospect those things are. 

Yeah, thanks, Sophia. And, because I can’t say it enough, we live in the stories we grow up around, sometimes it can be confusing when our lovers act like the romantic heroes of TV and movies – and fuck up our lives.

And the Zoe Hits Just Keep on Coming!

1. I feel the need to start negative. I know most of you reading this want to know all the good stuff about Zoe, because you love her and/or because you like hearing cute-kid stories. But sometimes I think mothers don’t share enough of this stuff with each other, so that when we experience it, it feels like we’re experiencing it alone. And that’s definitely how I felt one Friday when I was Shabbat Mom at her preschool.

I already feel like a kind of incompetent mother there. We started last year, and I was absolutely convinced that she would be fine in the Me Alone classes, because we’d been going to this place where the parents stay in the building but not in the room, and she had been fine from the first day I took her there. Just ran into the room and started playing without even looking over her shoulder at me. So I thought we’d be fine.

We were not fine. They had to call me to come pick her up after about forty-five minutes the first day because she just did not stop. The same thing happened the second day. I enrolled her in the Transitions class.

I should have realized that she wouldn’t be fine. The weekend before school started, Zoe was abruptly weaned when my great-aunt died and we decided my going to NJ alone for the funeral would be the end of the seemingly endless breastfeeding.

In the Transitions class, parents were supposed to stay for a number of weeks but basically be out of the classroom by the end of October, depending on their kid’s ability to withstand the loss of their parent/caretaker.

I had to stay in until January. I was the only parent not to leave on schedule. I became, in effect, an assistant teacher.

But once I was gone, she was fine. Just fine. She loved her teachers, she played okay with the other kids. It was great.

Camp was a little bit more of a struggle, and that has continued into this year.

One Wednesday, they had their Purim event, which the parents were supposed to attend. It started an hour after preschool started. The minute I came back to the classroom, Zoe started crying and reaching for me. The kids were supposed to perform some Purim songs for the parents but Zoe wouldn’t leave my lap. I decided to just go home; it was pointless trying to stay.

The next session was the Friday on which I was Shabbat Mom. We went to a Shabbat Sing, in which all the classes join together to sing Shabbat songs, and then any and all Shabbat Parents light candles with their kids in front of the group and all.

Zoe would not sit still during Shabbat Sing. She would not sit in my lap; she would not sit with the other kids. She wanted to run around the little library where this song session was being conducted. I had to take her out of the room. More than once. Then we were called back in to do the candles and things and she threw herself on the floor and refused to do it. Then her teacher had to practically carry her back to class.

I felt pretty awful about the whole thing, actually. I felt like I was failing in some fundamental way as a mother because Zoe wouldn’t do what all the other kids were doing, and because I obviously had no power to make her do anything. I felt embarrassed and angry at her for embarrassing me and then angry at myself for being embarrassed and angry with her for embarrassing me when it shouldn’t be her primary job to be a credit to me.

Anyway, on to the good stuff.

2. We were at this play structure at the mall and this little boy approached her. He said he was four. For reasons I don’t fully understand but which must have something to do with child development, Zoe took huge offense to this. “I’m not four, I’m three!” she kept insisting, belligerently. The boy tried to explain that he wasn’t saying she was four, he was saying he was four. Zoe was having none of it. I tried to intervene by, basically, repeating what the boy said about him not declaring anything about her age, and then asked if she would like to play with the little boy. “No, I don’t,” she said, with force, and then threw herself on the ground.

3. She delivers every sentence like she’s trying out for a soap opera. We went to the mall with her grandmother. At first she was holding her grandma’s hand but then she switched to my hand. “I don’t want to lose you,” she said. “You won’t lose me,” I said. “I will never lose you, never, ever!” she replied, throwing her arms around me. But really just about any time she’s speaking, she’s being dramatic.

4. She likes to announce when she’s throwing a “temper tantrum” or a “temper fit.” The latter phrase she got from Eloise.

5. Lately she’s been extremely cuddly and affectionate, even more so than is usual for her, which is a lot, and it’s awesome. She also compliments me the same way I compliment her, by telling me she loves me so much, and, lately, I’m her “best friend,” which I think she’s mostly getting from watching “My Little Pony,” and that I’m so pretty or wonderful or whatever. But my favorite is when she clearly knows that something is a nice thing to say, but she doesn’t know what it really means. So for instance, she told me I had very “clever” hair. (I assure you, even if such a term made sense in, say, high fashion journalism, I would still not have “clever hair.”) And, I’m always telling her I am the luckiest mommy in the world, so she has been grabbing my cheeks and cooing, “You are so lucky and gorgeous!”

6. She also uses “dramatic” as interchangeable with just about any other word. “That’s so dramatic!” can be claimed of just about anything – an outfit, a cookie, a smile.

7. She does know what “frustrated” means and uses that word accurately.

8. Of course, with the affection is the need to explain to her that you don’t give your mommy open-mouthed kisses. Even if you are pretending she’s your wife. Even if that is how they kiss on “Glee.”

9. Also she still puts her hands down my shirt, especially when she’s upset or tired. When I tell her to stop touching my breasts, she says, “But I need to touch your breasts to make me feel better.” If there’s a next kid, I don’t think s/he’s getting breastfed at all.

10. She has started posing for pictures.

11. Best way to tell her her outfit is a good one? Tell her it’s something Aunt Kate would like. Better yet? Tell her it’s something Aunt Kate would wear.

12. Her play has gotten more sophisticated. By herself she imagines complicated scenarios and acts them out with an invisible cast, who she sometimes chastises and sometimes lavishes with compliments. With me, she wants to take her figurines, especially her My Little Pony figurines, and have them enact story lines.

13. Oh, and somewhere, she learned Rock Paper Scissors. She loves it.

14. She loves dancing more and more. I really need to get her into classes.

15. She asks you to sit near her so you can “talk about something.” Then she issues an invitation: “What should we talk about?” Then she suggests a topic. “Let’s talk about whales.” You say, “Okay, let’s talk about whales.” She says, “What color are whales?” You say, “I don’t know, what color are whales?” She says, “There’s yellow. . . and red . . . and green . . . and blue . . . and that’s all the colors of whales.” You say, “Which is your favorite color of whale?” She says, “Yellow. Do you like yellow whales?” “Yeah, I like yellow whales,” you say. She says, “Are they your favorite?” “No, I don’t think yellow whales are my favorite.” “Which are your favorite?” “I like white whales. Like the beluga whales at the aquarium.” She doesn’t like that answer. “I don’t like white whales. I like blue whales. Do you like blue whales?” “Yeah, I like blue whales.” “Me, too. We like blue whales together!” She grins and pats your face. “What about dolphins?” And on like that.

16. She really likes to sing along to the radio with me.

17. We’ve had to get very careful about rules and choices for her. For instance, let’s say she’s looking about for food. I want her to eat something healthy, like an apple. I offer her the apple. She says she doesn’t want an apple, she wants candy. I say she can only have candy after eating something healthy, like an apple or a cheese stick. Now, if she’s in a good mood, she’ll choose one, usually the cheese stick, with happy anticipation of the candy to follow. But if she’s not in a good mood or is not really all that hungry, she’ll throw herself to the ground and cry, “Then I’m never eating anything! No, nothing! Not ever! Never ever ever!”

18. You know, this is for posterity, and I put stuff up on Facebook, but I should repeat it here. But most of you reading this also read my Facebook feed. So you can skip this item but I’m going to reprint them so that we have them forever.

She claimed she was going to China. I asked what she was going to see in China. She said, “Beautiful snow, good flowers, good-looking chicks . . .”

Zoe: Why don’t I have a penis?
Me: Because you’re a girl.
Zoe: Why am I a girl?
Me: Because you don’t have a penis.
Zoe: Why don’t I have a penis?
Me: Because you’re a girl. It’s kind of a tautology thing, know what I mean?
Zoe: (giggles) We’re being silly together!

I am Zoe’s best girlfriend because I know which one Fluttershy is and how to make her voice. Zoe is my best girlfriend because when I bring home new shoes for myself, she gets as excited as me, pull them out of the bag, and pronounces them “awesome” and “amazing.”

She got really into Clueless for a little while there. Especially the scene where Cher is internal-monologuing about high school boys and then pushing one off of her? Zoe calls it “the movie with the yellow girl who says, ‘Uch, as if!'”

Oh, yeah, she cut her hair herself. She didn’t do too bad a job. We took her to the kiddie salon to “fix” it, but I don’t think they did any better than she did.

;

I don’t know, people, I’m losing track. Especially since I’m so used to her constant performances, I forget some stuff. So if you have witnessed her being especially cute, please email me at raspberrylimericki@gmail.com and I will include your stories and comments in the next Zoe po

Some More Talk About Contraception

So when I was in grad school –

Oh, wait, I need to be more specific, don’t I? When I was at UIC, getting my MA in English with a Gender and Women’s Studies concentration, I took a class with this woman. It was a great class full of stuff I’d never thought about before, like there was a book about how the “first wave” of feminism in the latter half of the nineteenth century wasn’t just suffragettes. There were women doing a lot more work on the daily lives of women and had these ideas about communal apartment buildings with a common kitchen and day care center and laundry and stuff, so that women could do these housekeeping tasks communally and more quickly and therefore have time to do other shit.

And she also listened to us whine about Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s racism for a while and then pointed out to us that we exhibit racial ignorance when we declaim female genital mutilation so vehemently without understanding that there are two different things going on – the bad kind where clitori, labia, etc. are cut off, sewn together, etc., all in an effort to make sex actively unpleasant for women because otherwise they’d be dirty, dirty whores; and a practice wherein just the clitoral hood is removed, roughly the anatomical equivalent of male circumcision, and then the girls’ sexuality is celebrated with an all-night party in their honor, and allegedly such an operation actually makes sex more enjoyable, because the clitoris is more easily accessible. And while I know some women would argue that actually their clitori are too sensitive for more access to be enjoyable to them, the point is that the rhetoric around the first kind is, “Women are dirty whores and must be prevented from enjoying sex,” and also that the procedures themselves are highly painful and awful and make sex bad for life, and with the second, the pain is not so bad or so permanent, and the rhetoric around the second kind is, “You’ve hit puberty! Time to get down with your bad self! Woohoo!” And that’s very different.

One of my favorite things she told us was about Iran and family planning, and thinking about it now, I wasn’t sure I was remembering it correctly, so I looked it up. That’s right, people. I did research. For you. Please, please, don’t think you have to run out and buy me expensive chocolates. Homemade cookies would be fine.

Anyway, I was remembering right. In the wake of the revolution in Iran in 1979, the rhetoric there was very, “Have more babies! Have more babies for the cause! More soldiers for Islam! For Iran! For the Revolution!” Family planning institutions were dismantled; health officials were ordered not to speak about contraception. Predictably, the birth rate in Iran went through the roof.

Then about five or six years later, the government of Iran went, “Oh, shit.” Because they did not have enough kindergarten classrooms for all these kids. Or water. So they got very serious about government-sponsored family planning education and coverage. All couples must go through family planning classes in order to get a marriage license. Families are encouraged to wait three to four years between kids, and to have only three kids. They encourage the latter by restricting maternity leave benefits after the third child. There are tons of clinics, mobile clinics and other health care facilities centered around family planning AND – wait for it – THE GOVERNMENT COVERS 80% OF FAMILY PLANNING COSTS. Yes, including the Pill.

Yes, you are reading this right. In crazy, right-wing, fundamentalist Iran, where women can’t show ankle, they can get the Pill, no problem, from their fascist religious-right government.

No, let that sink in. One party in this two-party country thinks it’s wrong to ask businesses to have health insurance plans that cover contraception. Not only that, but one of the two front-runners for that party’s nomination for PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES seems to think that sex should only be procreative, and that contraception and abortion of any kind ought to be forbidden.

But in IRAN, the government will pay for 80% of your Pill. They even have a government-run condom factory.

(I never thought about condoms being made in a factory. I mean, obviously, they are, but now I’ve got an image of it in my head and it’s making me giggle. Because I’m twelve.)

“Come on, Ricki. You wouldn’t want to live as a woman in Iran.” No, I would not. As a Jewish woman, I think Iran would be a pretty bad place for me.

I just want to point out that, look. I am a liberal/progressive Reform Jew and feminist who thinks that the only sex that is immoral is sex in which one or more parties cannot give or have not given consent. But I get that there are people who, for religious and/or moral reasons, really think sex should be restricted to married couples, and while I respectfully disagree, and also think they’re being unrealistic, and that you can’t apply such a standard to the nation via legal means because we have, you know, a separation of church and state around here, I understand why they think the way they think.

But. Even if you think that all sex should be married sex, it still doesn’t make sense to expect that either a) married couples will only have sex when they want children, and will avoid having sex of any kind unless they can afford to support any child that will result in that sex, or b) married couples will simply have all the children that their desired sex life will produce, and that will be fine for both the family and for the state in which they live.

And not only does it not make sense, just, like, thinking about it for more than five seconds, but fortunately for us, Iran already ran the experiment. They do not have separation of church and state, so they felt perfectly justified in applying a religious mandate not to have sex outside marriage to everyone. Then they decided to also religiously mandate baby-making. Their resources were overwhelmed in about half a decade. So they decided that it was perfectly in keeping with strict religious principles against non-marital sex to also support family planning and the reduction of the total number of babies being born. They even educated men and women about sex for pleasure and how women should enjoy it and men should have the patience to get them to the point of enjoying it! No, seriously! That’s sex ed IN IRAN.

Now, things have changed slightly since the article I linked to was written. Apparently there was a “Two is Not Enough!” campaign in 2006. And I don’t know if they’re still doing the sex-for-pleasure education. But still. Iran. Our Republican party is to the right, in matters of sex, of IRAN.

That is all.

Quick

Someone is finding my blog in a search for how to have sex in a twin bed.

In my opinion, it’s not the having sex in a twin bed that’s the problem. It’s how to fall asleep after that’s the problem.

Oscars 2012!

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, I know.

Angelina Jolie

be lookin’ skinny. I mean, it’s nice to see her looking so cheerful and you can tell she really, really likes that slit on her gown, but her waist does in fact look smaller than her head and her arms look like they couldn’t take the strain of holding a lipstick.

Berenice Bejo

I have heard this dress being criticized for being a tad m-o-b. Which I guess would be true if an American were wearing it. But, you know, she’s French. On her it is the ne plus ultra in chic.

The Cast of Bridesmaids

I decided to address them as a group because they all looked pretty good and, with the possible exception of Rose Byrne, like they might have tried on dresses together to see what was going to look good as a group. I am especially a fan of Maya Rudolph’s look, although I might be biased, because the episode of SNL she hosted was one of the most enjoyable in memory. She still knows what she’s doing.

Cameron Diaz

The dress is kind of pageant-y and why didn’t she do something with her hair?

Although I saw a tabloid shot that was like, “Look, here’s how Cameron Diaz looked while out shopping for groceries a few days before the Oscars! And here’s how she looked at the Oscars! See how much better her skin looks? It must be some form of plastic surgery!” Yeah, or make-up. Morons. (I mean, I know the tabloid editors know that. I know they just think their readers are morons.)

Colin Firth’s Wife

That is the weirdest dress I’ve ever seen.

Emma Stone

See, Emma, you need me to be your new best friend. Because I would have told you, the color is lovely and I like the floatiness but the neck bow makes you look like a high-fashion schoolmarm in 1974. I think we can do better.

Esperanza Spalding

I’m not really sure who she is but I love the princess dress with the bigger-than-her-torso Afro. Very cool.

George Clooney’s Date

gets to date George Clooney and wear Marchesa?

Nofairnofairnofair!

Glenn Close

See, I actually watched some of the telecast this time around and the cameras didn’t really catch the color of this properly. I thought it was black. I liked it when I thought it was black, but I like it a lot better now that I see it’s green.

Gwyneth Paltrow

If I were to do some sort of modernist interpretation of The Chronicles of Narnia, this is what the Snow Queen would wear.

And, if I could get her, that’s who I’d cast as the Snow Queen, too.

Jennifer Lopez

I really would like this dress on her if it weren’t for the weird sleeve holes.

Which aren’t even actual holes but are covered by mesh! Which takes the concept from an “Almost there!” to an “Oh, dear God, no!”

Jessica Chastain

is a tiny, tiny, tiny person.

That said, I love this dress. I love Alexander McQueen.

Kate Mara

You showed up in a dress reminiscent of but not as nice as Mila Kunis’s dress from last year (Mila Kunis who is, by the way, my husband’s new dream girl), and you made that face all night. That “Ain’t I a stinker?” face. And I guess given that you managed to squeeze an invite to the Academy Awards, that’s appropriate.

Meryl Streep

got dressed up this time! I guess when you’re going to receive your 893rd Oscar, you have to put on the Ritz just a little bit.

Michelle Williams

You know, during the telecast, Nina Garcia was going on about this one, and I’m not so in love. She looks great overall, but the dress’s weird textures threw me.

Natalie Portman

How old is her baby? Is she breastfeeding? I only ask because she’s got more of a rack than usual. So it’s either the baby or a good dress.

Octavia Spencer

looks fab. And she’s a larger lady. Maybe her stylist can go work for Melissa McCarthy, too. (I mean, Melissa McCarthy didn’t look bad this time, but I still think she can do better.)

Penelope Cruz

Not many major actresses go so princess-y anymore and it’s refreshing to see.

Princess Grace’s kids

The daughter looks a lot like her. The son, poor boy, took after his father in the looks department.

Rooney Mara

Flawless fashion choice.

Sandra Bullock

First things first: When Zoe saw her on screen, she said, “That looks like Aunt Kate!”

So I was watching this with my mother and we got into a debate because y’all know how I feel about the black-and-white color-blocked evening wear. It makes people look like the waitstaff.

But. Sandra looked really good in this.

But. It’s still black and white.

My mother thinks I’m being silly about the black and white thing, and yeah, that dress does look really nice on her – but would the dress really be worse if it were all black? Or another color entirely, like red or plum (the unofficial color of this year’s academy awards)? Or even all-white?

But on the other hand it’s really a gorgeous dress and she looks fabulous.

Shaliene Woodley

I know we rag on the Britneys and the Lindsays for letting it all hang out, but sweetie, you’re, like, 19. You can wear something a little younger than this.

Tina Fey

Her dress’s color read much better on TV than it is in the pictures. I really liked it on TV on the red carpet. I mean, the peplum is not my favorite concept, and the skirt looked a little stiff, but she looked like a star and she looked like she felt like a star and I loved the color.

Viola Davis

The dress is Vera Wang, and as such, it looks like the best damn bridesmaid dress you will ever get to wear. I know that sounds like an insult but I really do love the dress and she looks great in it.

I don’t love the hair color. But that’s just me.