Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Lileks - the first blog I ever followed, and what a blog!

Years ago I was working on an online project that never took flight (my own personal little pun which I must apologise for as it was, in fact, for British Airways). Anyway I digress, this project meant that I had to familiarise myself pdq with all things online. Now when I tell you this was over ten years ago you will see that all this internet stuff and working was very shiny and new and really quite limited. We had just got Google (what a stupid name I remember thinking at the time - won't last) and my job initially was to use this Google thing to search and find interesting things on the interweb to inspire me to do something fantastic for airline users (ie passengers) to do with home and lifestyle. So it was on this fact and ideas finding mission that I came across a blog which made me laugh so much I put it in my favourites and returned every day to make sure I worked my way through the archive.

Lileks was the name of the site and blog and it still is as strong and funny today as it was ten years ago. The Bleat is the daily update from US journalist James Lileks and is worth a gander, but what made me crease up laughing was his Institute of Official Cheer which contains The Gallery of Regrettable Food which display pages from old recipe books and journals with his own thoughts added. I didn't know recipe books could be so funny until I read things like this from Lunches and Brunches...


You were up all night scoring the pig testicles, and no one ate them! You slaved for half an hour making that head-cheese-and-blood dip, and no one tried it!


Or this from the Better Homes and Gardens Meat Cookbook....


This has a name like "Snowplow-cut Butt Steak," or something. It's one of those attractive meat-meals that brings out the muscle striations to nice effect. You reeeallly want to know you're eating muscle when you tuck into a plate of meat. Muscle: ask for it by name!
Note how they think that shredding the greens and sprinkling them around will get us to try them. Hah! Nice try!


Can you imagine in this world of Nigella and Jamie that such cookbooks existed and were meant to inspire you the rush into the kitchen and put that pinny on.

But James Lileks doesn't just curate the truly awful in cookbooks. No he holds up the worst in science fiction,  comic books and 'male publications' of the fifties and sixties into the harsh light of today. Interior Design comes under scrutiny too with Horrible Homes from the Brass Age of American Design. Here is a taster...


This is a teenaged girl’s room. Toss a modern Goth chick in here and she’d dissolve on contact. The yellow and checked pattern do provide an interesting contrast, but you could say the same thing about a vat of acrid urine and a dozen Krispy Kremes. So what, in other words? What’s so blessedly special about contrasts, particularly if the effect looks like a room for someone overly prone to throwing up six quarts of mustard now and then? 

No unauthorized cameras allowed, says the Old-Timey sign. Oh, don’t worry. Not when this hue and this pattern is described in most technical handbooks as “the lens-cracker.”



I'm not going to give you any more - you'll have to visit Lileks yourself - but give yourself at least half an hour as you will get lost in the fabulous archive and the slice of American living you will find there.

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