January 21st, 2007 | Uncategorized

AnnaP, thank you for giving that frickin’ orange cake a blog of its own, FAQs and all. Now all we need is a picture of the cake. Or better yet a YouTube 360 degree view.

Thanks for correcting my misspelling of junco. And I’m sorry to disappoint all you composting fiends, but I basically use that thing as a big garbage can/raccoon feeder. I never turn it, and I never use the compost.

And yes, AnotherOregonian, there is new strip out. I’ve been meaning to put it up, and will do so immediately.

Oh, and get this. Fun Home is a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, in the memoir category. Uh…finalist? Nominee? Holly my publicist said I was a finalist, but this article says nominee. The mechanics of awards selection–from long list to short list to winner–are very confusing to me for some reason. But whatever the proper term is, I’m on the list. Do I sound smug? I am.

51 Responses to “Cakeblog!”

  1. Deena in OR says:

    As well you should be. Smug, that is.

  2. little gator says:

    I’m not disappointed> I’m justglad your let your garbage rot in your bin instead of havign someone paid to carry it off and do who-knows what with it.

    The stable up the road gives it’s manure awya, but with a compact car there was no easy way to get it.

    Now they are considering delivering a truckload in exchange for my tomatoes. WHEE!

    To grardening fiends-I know how bad fresh horse manure is, don’t worry. this will get good and composted and mixed with other stuff.

    I lobe juncos but they don’t compere to chickadees, the cutest wild bird in most of North America.

  3. Ellen Orleans says:

    What the…? You are a finalist for a National Book Critic Circle Award and you title the blog entry Cakeblog?!!!

    Excuse me, but the title should have been “Fuckin’ Bloody Hell! Fun Home is an NBCC Finalist!”

    The NBCC web page terms you a finalist. I’d stick with that wording. I know that some awards, like the Lammys, have a long list of nominees which gets whittled down to five finalists, then a winner.

    The great news—the freaking, great, amazing news—is that you are on the short list, the one they create before they name you the winner.

    You should be as smug as you damn well please.
    And ask for much bigger speaker fees.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Smug it up hon’, you deserve it.

  5. Trump says:

    Just read Fun Home. My book of the year so far. Top notch.
    I just hope no one was looking over my shoulder on the bus when I was reading the bits about you and Joan. (ifyouknowhatImean!)

  6. Deborah says:

    I am so delighted about the NBCC that I can hardly stand it.
    And the fact that the cake has a blog of its own now make me giggle then laugh then chortle for a good 2 minutes.
    What a blog! What dykes to watch out for (gay boys and others inclusive, of course)! What an amazing AB around whom it all eddies!
    Gotta make the cake someday….
    Kudoes again, AB!!!

  7. LondonBoy says:

    Dear Alison,
    I feel kind of guilty about even mentioning the cake – it seems to have taken on a life of its own. Sorry for cluttering up your blog with it, and kudos to AnnaP et al for creating the most improbable blog I’ve ever seen. Made me laugh, but also made me proud to be a member of such a crazy-logical community.
    Anyway, sorry for inadvertently causing this digression. Hope we can now get back to the important things, like the continuing wonderful success of “Fun Home” – Yaaaay !

  8. No, LondonBoy! I love the cake! And all the other digressions.

  9. anonymous says:

    See, we readers of DTWOF have always known you’re a genius. Now, through “Fun Home,” the rest of the world is finding out, too.

  10. Duffi says:

    OMG You are a finalist for a National Book Critic Circle Award!!!!! I am so proud of you, you’d think we were related. This, and the cake, too (just printed off the recipe, will make a gluten-free version sometime this week). My life isn’t perfect, but this moment is.

  11. Cindy says:

    Wow, bask in your smug! The NBCC Award! I’m not surprised, though. It deserves every award there is.

    In this case, “finalist” = “nominee.” Their award process (much simpler than some of the others out there!) is delineated at

  12. Ann S. in Madison says:

    National Book Critics Circle?! Fuck. Me. I Mean You. Fuck. You. (No…wait, that can’t be right.)

    Wow. That’s having your cake and eating it, too.

  13. Ovidia says:

    Congrats on making the National Book Critics Circle Award shortlist!!! You realise this means around seven hundred serious academic type people around your country could be seriously falling in love with your book right now? Like we all did? Wow! If you win in March we’ll all make Moist Orange Cakes in your honour!

  14. meg says:

    You done good. Be proud.

  15. Deb says:

    Congrats again Alison………….smug it up!

  16. Alex the Bold says:

    For some reason I keep reading it as “Maoist Orange Cake.”

    I guess it’s perfect if you’re going on the Long March.

  17. silvio soprani says:

    I think this cake would probably have been too decadent for Mao. He would probably be eating what Napoleon’s troops subsisted on as they invaded Russia…buckwheat kasha! (Or was it the Russians who subsisted on it as they were being invaded?) All I know is, it was easy to carry, fast to cook, and very nutritious. And it was not necessary for them to carry a zester in order to prepare it. Nor did they need a blender to pulverize the caster sugar or the almonds.

    Alison, I am relieved that you are not in a snit over the prolongued cake discussions just before Christmas. Personally, I think they were our finest (or perhaps just our most entertaining) hour.

    Congratulations yet again for the latest honors.

  18. Jana C.H. says:

    I’ve checked my Little Red Book and haven’t found the Maoist Orange Cake anywhere. I think it was in Jiang Qing’s, “Gang of Four Chefs Spoil the Soup”.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle, Soviet of Washington
    There’s no Pravda in Izvestia and no Izvestia in Pravda. –Old USSR Joke

  19. Helene says:

    urgent orange moist cake question: is the cake tin round?

  20. Maggie Jochild says:

    Where the people’s will is represented, the cake tin will be round, representing the circularity of labor and high thought. But when the heavy hand of imperialist running dogs have been allowed their way, the cake tin becomes angular, representing the dead end of profit- and consumer-driven culture.

  21. Deena in OR says:

    Maggie…too funny. Thanks for starting my Tuesday right.

  22. G in Paris says:

    Another urgent orange moist cake question waiting for an accurate and,if possible, funny answer. How about the depth of the cake tin?

  23. --MC says:

    The Maoist Orange Cake, though not in the Red Book, was a feature of most post-revolution thought in China. Orange cake was popular in the pre-Mao era, especially on holidays, and the cake was co-opted into the new movement, much in the same way the Pagan holidays were rewritten into Christianity.
    I have here the text of one of the Revolutionary Operas, “Taking Orange Cake By Strategy”, which centers around a cadre of young comrades posted to the mountains who manage to bake a cake for their commander. Songs performed included “Dry Breadcrumbs Will Help To Secure The Day” and “The Shining Star Of Direct Political Action Is Like This Big Orange I Am Zesting”.

  24. judybusy says:

    Congratulations, Alison! Now, remember what I said a while ago ’bout not blogging too much on this trip. Enjoy the people and places in front of you. We can hear about it later, if you feel like it. AnnaP, thanks for the cake blog–it was always one of my favorite topics, especially with Silvio’s play-by-play account of The Making of the Cake.

  25. Maggie Jochild says:

    MC, I went to and and cannot find the words to “The Shining Star of Direct Political Action Is Like This Big Orange I Am Zesting”. I’m hoping somebody out there has them — damned internet censorship! Even the chorus would do, as I am appearing as one of the girls feeding the ducks at the collective farm pond for a talent show and this song would make it perfect. The only part I can remember, with that lovely lilt in the middle, is:
    *It is impossible to swallow an entire banquet in one gulp
    It isn’t a Revolutionary Party without cake*

  26. Jana C.H. says:

    A girlfriend of mine back in the Seventies owned the libretto to “Taking Orange Cake By Strategy”. I don’t remember for sure but I think those particular lyrics Maggie quotes came from a different song altogether, “When the Orange Hits Your Eye Like a Big Maoist Pie, That’s Dialectical Materialism.” It was a tune done in the style of Cab Calloway, and tends to get stuck in my head. “The Shining Star of Direct Political Action Is Like This Big Orange I Am Zesting” was more of a Louie Armstrong piece.

    Actual fact: A friend of mine in the Seventies belonged to the Freedom Socialist Party/Radical Women in Seattle, a group which was widely known for having the best cooks on the left. I’m told this is still true. I used to go to their New Year’s Eve parties, though I was too lazy to go this year to find out if they’ve still got the culinary stuff. Seattle Democrats, alas, have boring food. Don’t go to them for Maoist Orange Cake.

    Shouldn’t we be discussing this on Cakeblog?

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH: It’s called light verse because all the heavy work is done by the poet.

  27. Maggie Jochild says:

    Cakeblog is a diversion introduced by the power elite to keep us from the synergy of Combined Struggle. We will not be sidelined.

    “The Cakeblog bosses moved you, Jo
    They moved your away thread”
    “Takes more than links to shut us up
    Says Jo, I am not dead
    Eat cake as well as bread”

  28. Maggie Jochild says:


    “They moved away your thread”

  29. Arte es Vida says:

    the things our exes make off with, librettos, calphalon and that jumbo container of probe. jana c.h., you are right about the song. baba yaga covered “shining star” on one of their albums, and i once saw rhiannon do an amazing rendition of it at the artemis cafe in san francisco. also, i remember sirani avedis doing it at michigan, and i hear but have not seen directly that the butchies do it in a syncopated medley with “the primary oppression will not be decided by concensus” and that porter-esque classic “feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice, so let’s put in our practice time, baby”.

  30. Jana C.H. says:

    There was talk in the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan society of presenting “Taking Orange Cake by Strategy” on a double bill with “Princess Ida” this summer. They are thematically similar, and in both cases the dialogue is in blank verse. There is also the famous scene in “Ida” in which Lady Psyche tries to teach the three young men dressed as girl students to make Feudal Orange Cake; they make such a mess in the kitchen that Psyche runs off to be “comforted” by Princess Ida, the most radical separatist of the Middle Ages. But they decided it would make for too long an evening. Maybe they’ll be able to work it into the Hans Wolf Memorial Operetta Series instead, some time after “The Merry Cadre”.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith WSG: Every boy and every gal / who’s born into the world alive, / is either a little liberAL / or else a little conservaTIVE.

  31. --MC says:

    Dang, I forgot the lyrics today. I don’t know if they would do you much good, Maggie, as the book I have them in looks like it was sold as a souvenir of the show — the translation is veery wordy, and I know there’s a trimmer translation available (one that fits the music). And it doesn’t include the original language lyrics. Some nice color pictures though.
    Jana — it would have been a gas to see the Seattle G&S company perform a Chinese revolutionary opera. One of the big stars of the company is also the drivetime dj on the olditiate the tricky lyrics and time structure of the big ending number of the show, “The PLA Brings Prosperity and Freedom To All, Also Cake”.

  32. --MC says:

    Drag! that got messed up in transit.
    “One of the big stars of the company is also the drivetime dj on the oldies station. I would have loved to see him negotiate the tricky lyrics and time structure of the big ending number of the show, “The PLA Brings Prosperity and Freedom To All, Also Cake”.”

  33. shadocat says:

    I decided I should take a look at the cake comments, and glad I did: y’all are too funny! Maybe that’s all the world needs; a plate for everyone, with a big slice of orange cake on top!!

  34. Jana C.H. says:


    We’ll just have to content ourselves with hearing Dave Ross patter his way through “The Disagreeable Man.”

    Wait a minute! Isn’t that in Act 2 of “Taking Orange Cake”, sung by Chiang Kai-shek?

    Jana C.H.
    Saith WSG: It is easy in elegant diction to call it an innocent fiction, but it comes in the same category as telling a regular terrible story.

  35. Maggie Jochild says:

    I found a photo online of the Wallflower Order at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival performing “Only The Coopted Classes Eat Cake With Pinkies Extended” from “Taking Orange Cake”. (The attribution by the photo is in error or, possibly, deliberately misleading, since this aria is the inflammatory of all the numbers.)

  36. Jana C.H. says:

    I have finally found out why it is to hard to track down the libretto to “Taking the Orange Cake by Strategy.” Back during the Cultural Revolution the opera and recipe were attributed to Jiang Qing in the book “Gang of Four Chefs Spoil the Soup”, as I mentioned earlier. But I was just looking through the section of my library about China in the Thirties (Yes, I really have section about China in the Thirties) and came across a book by Nym Wales, the wife of Edgar Snow, the author of “Orange Star Over China.” Nym Wales says that the libretto–and the reciepe for the cake itself–was the result of a collaboration between Ho Tzu-ch’un, Mao’s second wife, and K’ang K’e-ching, wife of Chu Teh. (Ho wrote the words, K’ang, wrote the music.) During the Tiananmen Square protests, a major issue was the unjust suppression of the true authors of the work, and of the work itself. Thus it is nearly impossible to get a copy of the libretto in the original Chinese, and most of the translations available are, as MC pointed out, faulty.

    Actual fact: Nym Wales, the wife of Edgar Snow, was a journalist in her own right, and visited the Chinese Communists on her own not long after her husband published his famous book. Her book was “Inside Red China”, published in 1939, and consisted mostly of biographies of various Chinese Communists. Unfortunately, getting these dedicated commies to stop discussing the History of the Revolution and reveal anything personal was like pulling teeth. The only really interesting sections are those about Communist youth and Communist women. It was in the latter section that I found all I’ve ever read about Mao’s second wife and Chu Teh’s wife.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith WSG: Although I try to make myself as pleasant as I can, / Yet everybody says I am a disagreeable man!/ And I can’t think why!

  37. Maggie Jochild says:

    Fascinating, Jana C.H. My dictionary of American slang states that the fervor and energy of songs created by the collaboration of K’ang and Ho was so well-known (indeed, anticipated) during their time that this is the origin of the phrase “k’ang-ho”, corrupted in English to gung-ho and brought to our West Coast by Chinese immigrants fleeing the Cultural Revolution.

  38. shadocat says:

    Wait a minute—did they use mandarin oranges in the cake? That could be counter-productive to the revolution!

  39. --MC says:

    Jana — yes, that’s Act 2, sung by Chiang Kai-Shek — that’s where he’s lowered from the flies on ropes onto the stage.
    One thing — I read somewhere where there’s a new translation of the libretto. There’s sort of a craze for those old revolutionary operas going on in China just now, there was a film about it or something. Anyway, the new trans. seems to be titled “Baking Orange Cake By Strategy”, so that might be a clue to finding the text somewhere.
    Maggie — that’s a great photo. They must have gotten to the refrain “Don’t eat like this, it’s counterrevolutionary.”

  40. Maggie Jochild says:

    Hey, Jana C.H. — got a proposition for you. Write me at my just-created disposable blog email addy

    P.S. Nice to finally learn who Floss Forbes was/is.

  41. Jana C.H. says:

    And E.G. Forbes, my grandfather, is the one about whom I am attempting to research a book.

    When I was a member of Savoynet (for G&S fans), I frequently used the Floss Forbes tagline. Someone there once told me this story: He went to a concert of barbershop quartet music, and for an encore the quartet decided to sing a new song. But since the lead (who normally sings the melody) had not yet learned his part, the tenor, who knew the tune, took over the lead part, and the lead sang tenor. My correspondent said that he leaned over to his neighbor and whispered, “Floss Forbes was right.”

    Jana C. H.
    Saith E.G. Forbes: Never spoil a good story with too much truth.

  42. Maggie Jochild says:

    The wonders of Google —

    An old (1953) radio broadcast from CBC titled “Stalin, Mao and Your Mother’s Fruitcake” — (this is NOT made up) — at

  43. --MC says:

    Ah, God, I messed up the code somehow. Let me see if I can fix it:
    Did that work? Are we still shouting?

  44. Silvio Soprani says:

    Lunatics of the Blog:
    Accept my undying devotion for making me laugh this hard!
    Maggie–the WALLFLOWER ORDER! Amazing how events of the past are right in synch with the future! Now I understand my befuddlement all these years–I had not yet glimpsed the clarity of the Maoist Orange Cake!

  45. Josiah says:

    Although I have the greatest respect for the revolutionary fervor associated with the Little Orange Cake, I feel that I have to speak up for more downtrodden citrus fruit, such as limes. It shouldn’t take the token straight boy on the blog to point out that oranges are not the only fruit, should it? 😉

    Therefore, on behalf of the Fourth International, I hereby demand a recipie for Trotskyist Key Lime Pie!

    Oh, and Jana — “They sing choruses in public. That’s mad enough, I think.” —W.S.G.

  46. Jana C.H. says:

    Josiah– As far as I know, the only surviving recipe for Trotskyist Key Lime Pie is a Spanish translation found in a second-hand bookstore in Acapulco in 1972. It was between the pages of a paperback edition of “The Collected Love Poems of Nikita Khrushchev”. There was a hole punched through the recipe that appeared to have been made by an ice pick, although no ice pick is needed to make the pie.

    One sometimes hears rumors of a copy of the original Russian recipe showing up in either Siberia or Mongolia (including an extremely circumstantial tale from Tuva involving a pair of young lovers, an angry father, and a felt horse blanket), but none has stood up to close investigation. No credence should be given to Kim Jong-Il’s claim to have a copy hidden in a secret vault under a mountain a couple of hours outside Pyongyang. It’s well known to everyone outside North Korea that the only Korean copy was destroyed in a bombing raid in 1952.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle, Soviet of Washington
    Saith WSG: What’s the use in being half a fairy? My body can creep through a keyhole, but what’s the good of that when my legs are left kicking behind?

  47. Maggie Jochild says:

    Rumor has it that the chef at La Palapa Cocina Mexicana (on St. Mark’s Place in NYC) has a recipe for the pie. Perhaps this is because Leon Trotsky once lived in the building. Or perhaps it is because one of the two women who opened the restaurant had an affair, long ago, with Frida Kahlo and got the recipe from her — in exchange for what, we can only surmise. (She does wear Black Pants…)

    Yes, Josiah, the astringency of citrus in general has many Political Implications. It is especially good for cleansing off the rotten fish taint of the petit-bourgeois from one’s skin.

    But there is also a particular association of Trotsky with limes, is there not? For instance, it is generally assumed that in Pablo Nerudo’s poem “Drunk as Drunk”, the stanza which goes
    Pinned by the sun between solstice
    And equinox, drowsy and tangled together
    We drifted for months and woke
    With the bitter taste of land on our lips,
    Eyelids all sticky, and we longed for lime

    Neruda is speaking allegorically of the seduction of Capitalism, equating it here with sleep and drifting (although in other poems he refers to it appropriately as chocolate), and the “lime” he/we long for is the True Catharsis of Trotskyism.

    Interestingly, the FCC Phnom Penh Bar (yes, in the infamous Phnom Penh Hotel ) sells a cocktail called the Trotsky for $4.50, consisting of gin, Cointreau, pineapple and of course lime. (see here at ) I wonder if the hotel restaurant sells the pie?

  48. Silvio Soprani says:

    I am reminded of something Harriet Vane said to Lord Peter Wimsey as she fended off yet another of his marriage proposals:

    “Peter, if anybody does marry you, it will be for the pleasure of hearing you talk piffle.”

  49. Josiah says:

    Of course, we all know that it was the inclusion of a slice of Trotskyist Key Lime Pie in the mural Man at the Crossroads that caused Nelson Rockefeller to fire Diego Rivera, but I wonder whether the imagery of the pie in the work of Picasso has been sufficiently analyzed. It is known that Rivera and Picasso once came to blows, and the official story is that Picasso leafed through a stack of Rivera’s paintings too quickly, but one letter from Picasso to Françoise Gilot makes reference to “ce Mexicain damné et son tarte de chaux”. Could the argument have actually been about the famed Trotskyist Key Lime Pie? It would certainly have been in character for Rivera to refuse to share such a recipie with a rival artist, particularly one he felt was lacking in revolutionary fervor. Whatever the truth of the dispute may be, it is worth remembering Juan-Eduardo Chicot’s comment on Picasso’s Women of Algiers: “[It] poignantly expresses the duality of longing for both justice and dessert.”

    “We venture to expect
    That what we recollect,
    Though but a part of true High Art, will have its due effect.” —W.S.G.

  50. Jana C.H. says:

    It took me a couple of days to find this. I was misled because I thought it was by Ogden Nash, my second-favorite poet. It is, in fact, by Clarence Day.


    There was a gifted Mexican who came up here to paint,
    And he very kindly did so for a while with no complaint.
    He merely took some jobs away from all the local boys,
    And he merely made some speeches full of sweaty talk and noise.

    He frequently was heard to say he didn’t like the rich.
    He said they all had Little Souls and hearts as black as pitch.
    He thought HIS soul was good and true and also very large.
    Well, maybe that explained the price he felt he had to charge.

    He said he was a Worker, but he asked for kingly pay.
    He got it, too. He painted for a hundred bucks a day.
    He grew as fat as Henry Eighth, his wife looked like a queen.
    He was the Wealthiest Worker New York has ever seen.

    The other day some nervous men, who owned a spacious wall,
    Requested him to let it be and paint some other hall.
    They gave him—and he promptly took—a very handsome check,
    But when they tried to say goodby they got it in the neck.

    He said he wouldn’t say goodby, he wished to paint the wall;
    It was a moral issue and they had so souls at all.
    And now he says unless they let him open up his heart
    Upon their wall, they plainly will assassinate his art.

    Well, someone’s art’s assassinated almost every day,
    It happens every time that any painter’s turned away.
    So that even this pure spirit must have killed, without a sob,
    The art of his competitors the day he got the job.

  51. Silvio Soprani says:


    Pithy! Sort of reminds me of that Kevin Spacey/Kate Winslett movie, “The Life of David Gale.” It left me scratching my head trying to figure out which side I thought I was on.

    If “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” then if you bilk capitalists of their money in the cause of socialism, wasn’t that a good day’s work?

    or, as Dolly Parton once remarked in an interview on NPR years ago, “If I can make a lot of money by making a lot of people think I’m dumb, that’s pretty smart, don’t you think?” (that’s not the exact quote; I couldn’t locate it but it’s out there somewhere…)