Today's episode features writing about food and writing about space, objectively the two best kinds of writing. Marian Bull reads "In the Morning Kitchen," which was originally published in Lucky Peach, and Anthony Michael Morena reads from his book, The Voyager Record: A Transmission


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00:00:30hello welcome to the Catapult this is episode 53 in a collector series I'm Jamie green I'm really excited about the episode that I have for you today both of the readings you're going to hear and topics that are really special to me as a writer and as a person there was a while a few years ago when all of the writing that I was doing was food writing I was writing about recipes as writing about vegetables I wrote a lot about vegetables I'm really excited to have on the show for you today Marion bull who writes about food in a lyrical thoughtful really beautiful way absolutely adore her works I'm really really happy to have her on the show and then after food right in my next great love with science writing specifically about space and even more specifically about the ways that we imagine life elsewhere in the universe the possibility of contact with it so when I heard about our second
00:01:30it felt like a dream come true that writer is Anthony Michael Mirena and that book is called the Voyager record a transmission it comes out in May it's sort of a book laying the lyric essay or collection of prose poems maybe about the golden record which is the collection of sounds and images of humanity and Earth strap to the Voyager probes they are flown to the far reaches of the solar system and beyond the golden record is one of my favorite things in the world actually have a tattoo of part of its schematic captures the romance the science the imagination of the project it's a really beautiful and funny and wonderful book and so excited to have Anthony along with Mary Ann on the show today they're both writers who write things that when I read them I wish I'd written them but there's something about it that instead of being jealous I'm just really glad that their work is in the world
00:02:30I'm very excited to be bringing that to you today is going to be at first reading an essay that was originally published in Lucky Peach it's called in the morning kitchen here's Marionville Chapel Hill is a greeting card sort of college town flooded with son and smiles and wood patio bars and family friendly restaurants here residents will tell you the sky is always Carolina blue clear evidence that God is a tarheel school spirit and Hometown Pride bleed together and course through every street and vein and campus hallway everyone is nice everyone cares about the basketball team and if they don't they pretend
00:03:10on Franklin Street the main drag that cuts through town and borders the northern edge of Campus there is a McDonald's the modernist renovated kind drive by and you'll assume that there's a drive-through try to drive through and you'll fail the town band drive-thru restaurants in the 90s but Sunrise biscuit kitchen was grandfathered in and stand as one of two exceptions in town and so on weekend mornings you will find a line of cars backed up down Franklin Street waiting to commune with a tiny white hot that radiates the promise of breakfast biscuits and kindness the line moves quickly the operation is a spectacle of efficiency when you pull up to the window your bag of food is already reaching out to you attach to a hand attached to an arm attached to a smile
00:03:55in the age of fast food vilification and standing desks in car eating become de Clase but there was a quiet sort of Salvation that comes while eating in a car alone or otherwise and in-car breakfast is particularly sacred nothing is ever so urgent or so Redemptive whether it saves us from ourselves and the disgusting aftermath of a bad decision or gives us something to do with the person we've woken up with or put an extra beat between getting out of the house and reporting to the salt mines
00:04:25the original Sunrise was born from a pizza place in the seventies David Allen and his fraternity brother worked at the now-defunct pizza to go which started selling biscuits in the morning to make use of its Pizza Oven Allen and his friends saw an opportunity sound of space in Henderson 50 miles Northeast of Chapel Hill where they attended college and opened in 1977 a second location 20 miles away came eight months later Chapel Hill opened in 1983
00:04:56the original menu with simple buttered biscuits with an option of bacon ham or sausage now the chicken cheddar biscuit freshly Fried Chicken Glenview Farms cheddar is the go-to and they've added eggs hash browns and even tail because it's 2015 they now turn excess biscuit dough into cinnamon rolls the size of an aggressive bear claw but the biscuits in the service haven't changed being fast is always been a part of the business Alan says we kept the menu simple for that reason some other place is pre wrap orders but that's hard to customize all of our orders are made when they are ordered there's no pre-wrapped biscuit we have a hot biscuit and a hot protein and any vegetable gets added at that point from the beginning we've made everything to order
00:05:40I don't let me hang around the Chapel Hill kitchen for a few hours when recent Friday morning I got there just as the dark was getting less dark and found a corner between the biscuit station and the biscuit oven that felt police obtrusive Linda was making the biscuits she stood at a square of counter jutting out from the bottom edge of a large window being able to see her at work through the window gives customers a first-hand and very comforting look at the biscuit making process freshly made by a real human or image of sure is us
00:06:09the biscuits begin in a large metal bowl that gets two scoops of snowflake self-rising flour from a plastic gallon container that's caked with it then a pound and a half of shortening with room-temperature soft added in pieces a whole quart of Buttermilk and a half a cup of water that Linda eyeballs in an extra large Styrofoam cup she mixes everything by gloved hand until it's combined in the wet dough sort of looks like Jabba the Hutt she flowers the surface or further flowers at since the station is always covered in flour always in process then dumps out the dough and performs The Gentle process of padding it down adding a few more cups of flour how to get down padding in its sides together it up without overworking it then more padding down folding it over itself sprinkling on more flower padding and folding a few more times until the lumpy sticky mouse become smooth and free of cracks pillowy and inviting she rolls the dough out that's the biscuits with a round cutter and loads them onto baking sheets and slides them in
00:07:09speedrack and finally into a convection oven then the next batch and over and over until early afternoon on weekdays Sunrise biscuit kitchen sells about 2,000 biscuits on weekends they had around 3,000 on game days during football season Tailgaters come calling and that number multiplies yet again
00:07:28other fresh and well-executed things come from the Sunrise Kitchen nicely seasoned pork chops a solid egg and cheese combo a greasy crispy hash brown best nibbled straight from its paper sleeve but it's biscuits that carry the team they're fluffy not cakey big but not monstrous and well salted their tops brushed with margarine for a good glisson they don't so much melt-in-your-mouth is Reba kumdo they're the perfect boiled for fried chicken slapped with orange cheese Allen refuses to share the recipe with me it was his grandmother is adapted to scale the keys are not overworking the dough he says and using fresh buttermilk his grandmother use lard but he's found shortening to be more consistent and the absence of Butters flavor and richness the buttermilks time stands out
00:08:12Rush Hour approaches in the line of cars grows a few people stop in there's a not advertised door and cash register that allow in-the-know patrons to park and walk in I remember discovering it during my junior year at UNC among the walk-in customers Isley the application support engineer who likes Sunrise because of its excellent value of chicken and cheddar biscuit is 474 Leon and accountant tells me he comes in every day for the same order a chicken biscuit and sweet tea there are sloppy guys and sweaters who walk in women in hospital scrubs who drive through SUVs driven by Pepe moms someone looks like a grad student Matt the Scottish man who works the window wearing a red and black striped collared shirt and black hat that make him look like a referee wishes everyone a great day it's the most honest cross-section of Chapel Hill population when can see breakfast is the universal need and if not breakfast coffee and if not coffee sweetness just a bit before that stretch of silence in a car before the rest of the day
00:09:13Marion bowl is a writer editor an amateur cook living in Brooklyn her writing has appeared in Lucky Peach server Cherry Bomb Bon Appetit cozmo the new Republican eater among others you can find her on Twitter at marienville and she writes an Exquisite tiny letter called mess hall
00:09:32this episode of the Catapult is brought to you in part by spine magazine spine is a printed magazine published quarterly about book cover design they feature new and noteworthy designs along articles and interviews that Explorer cover design as both a profession and a service reading and desiigner inextricably linked whether you consciously notice it or not the way text is formatted and the placement of text on a page contribute hugely Torah reading experiences with books you're reading Journey starts with the cover it's the first thing you see so a bad cover design can make or break the way you're reading experience starts or whether it starts at all and that is why I spy magazine promotes high standards and book designs and love to spread the word about books with great covers if you want to learn more about cover design and it's important visit spine magazine. Co. Uk
00:10:23this episode is also brought to you by Kari fry and black cardigan edit if you're stuck on a writing project pay a visit to black cardigan edit.com black cardigan offers freelance editing services to help writers are there essays menu scripts and stories there's also a fun newsletter on writing and creativity that you can sign up for it at tiny letter. Com c a a f f as in Frank I read that newsletter and when I wrote for the all I got to work with Carrie as an editor and so I can highly highly recommend both that is black cardigan edit.com
00:11:00our last reader today is Anthony Michael Morena he's reading from his book The Voyager record a transmission here's Anthony
00:11:08the golden record is what Carl Sagan and his collaborators call the collection of sounds greetings images and music that they sent it to space mounted on the Voyager spacecraft in August and September of 1977
00:11:22the record itself is made out of gold plated copper and is covered by an aluminum seal electroplated with uranium 238
00:11:31Basile has coded visual information instructions on how to play the record and where to find the planet Earth
00:11:39the bulk of the record it's made up of music and pictures 118 images and audio collage of Earth sounds and 27 musical tracks but it opens up with words spoken greetings in different languages all of which roughly translate to hello out there from here
00:11:59launch from Earth on Titan 3E Centaur rockets and slingshot through space by the intense gravitational pulls of the giant planets are they passed the voyagers are moving at more than 35,000 miles per hour that's fast fast enough for the voyagers overtake the Pioneers which are no slouches either all for space probes have enough speed to break free of the sun's influence and eventually leave the solar system hence the messages
00:12:31the sounds of Earth portion of the record is the sound collage ever recorded noises of life on the planet Earth the solar system the guttural planets volcanoes earthquakes Thunder and mud
00:12:44animals in the jungle a person walking tools at work Morse code you think it will end with the sounds of cars and jets and rocket ships but it doesn't a crying newborn is kissed by its mother which is followed by a strange pulsing sound these are EEG patterns brain wave activity sounds made by thoughts specifically and reinstall it's about Carl Sagan which one she had fallen in love
00:13:14those sounds blend almost indistinguishable e into the sounds of a pulsar flashing at Earth from 600 light years away
00:13:26the message is recorded by the 15 un delegates on the outer space committee turned out to be so long-winded and self-important they only appear on the record as a mash-up sentences that don't start I never ends
00:13:39the 55 greetings were created to correct this mistake the speakers who recorded them were chosen only for their language fluency they were given just one very explicit instruction debrief
00:13:55say hello to Hamas David markson after I told him I was moving to Israel
00:14:03I like being different greetings the most that hasn't it once the register on E greeting says we are happy here and you be happy there
00:14:12the Arabic greeting is lesson different but still worried it says greetings to our friends in the Stars May time bring us together which doesn't kill the aliens not to come but maybe not to come over just yet
00:14:30the alien to discover the Voyager record are confused by the 55 greetings they have difficulty with Linguistics is each word a separate meaning where does one word end and where is the next weekend
00:14:46what is one word have to do with the next does each word represent the sounds of a different language does each phone mean what is one word and then the next word began
00:14:57is this one language with many facets to it expressing with sound and mood a face to each feeling so many chambered heart like the aliens heart which has 14
00:15:09y 55 times do these people say the same thing over and over did they think that we would not get the point
00:15:19in the West Wing episode The Warfare of Genghis Khan Josh Lyman the president's Deputy Chief of Staff meets with a bunch of NASA scientist about funding request just kind of dismissive NASA as a bunch of Geeks and career fuck ups and shows them the door but later in his office one of the NASA scientist who just happens to be a sexy brunette asked him to reconsider she tells him about a lot of cool stuff that NASA is done then they go on a date and look through a telescope in Josh's car she pitches wouldn't answer once they want to send people to Mars
00:15:55the next day Josh causes assistant Donna into his office so we can tell her that Voyager just passed the termination shock making it the first human-made object to leave the solar system. It is kind of jealous of the hot scientist so she's all like whatever then Josh says he wants to run a scenario by her Donna sit down everyone hates America he says because we're so rich and powerful and such a bully but America has a chance to do something special for Humanity we could send the first humans to walk on another planet Donna still like nah not doing it for me
00:16:32so Josh is like okay listen to this Voyager has a collection of pictures and greetings and music on it in case aliens ever find it the 1920s Blues Man Blind Willie Johnson Josh tell Donna was 7 years old when his stepmother through lie in his face and blinded him because her husband had beat her up for sleeping with another man Blind Willie died says Josh after he got pneumonia from sleeping in a wet newspaper blanket after his house burned down
00:17:02one of his songs Dark was the night cold was the ground just left the solar system
00:17:09okay Donna says that got her the main plot of the episode is about the buildup of an Israeli airstrike on possible nuclear facilities in or on there is a scene where the prime minister of Israel tells President Martin Sheen that around will have weapons-grade uranium in Rich within a year
00:17:28in an episode that aired in 2004
00:17:31it's a pretty good episode even though Aaron Sorkin didn't write it
00:17:36the essential difference between a robotic Mission like Voyager and a crewed mission is the difference between a linear narrative and a cyclical one we want people to come back to the circling world like a record so we can start again from scratch
00:17:53a cyclist humanity is it's going to find ality it has to end somewhere and has to Begin Again Voyager on the other hand may never stop
00:18:07the aliens who discover Voyager are always on fire
00:18:11they have bodies somewhere beneath all those flames
00:18:16you can tell because of the smell
00:18:19and because sometimes pieces fall off
00:18:22this is how they reproduce when they reach out to retrieve the record from Voyager it melts
00:18:30Anthony Michael Miranda is a writer from New York who lives in Tel Aviv his poetry and prose have appeared in or will soon the normal school ninth letter flapper house and queen mobs Teahouse the Voyager record of transmission is his first book and that's it for this episode of the Catapult thank you so much for listening and mentioned at the top of the show that with Marion and Anthony's pieces and the way that they connect to my favorite kinds of writing this feels like a special episode it's also special because it's going to be the last episode of the show at least for a while basically for the last 2 years I've been teaching and cuddling together freelance work but now I'm starting a full-time job I'm well that's going to make life a lot less hectic it's also going to make time a lot less free I don't know if this is a Hiatus or a retirement or a cryogenic freezing or a podcast getting locked in Amber
00:19:27I guess you can think of this as the conclusion of volume one of the Catapult I don't really know what the future will hold for the podcast but keep it in your podcast app keep following on Twitter if you are you can also follow me on Twitter at Jamie at least that's j a i m e a l y s e and the email address letters at catapult podcast will always be there if you want to get in touch
00:19:51I want to thank the blow for a theme music and arms for a closing credits music both bands are really great and you should check them out but most of all I want to thank you for listening I say that on every episode but I really really mean it the show would not exist without people listening to it otherwise it would be a tree falling in the forest with no one here but instead it's been a podcast with 53 episodes and lots of listeners and I'm really really grateful for that so thank you
00:20:25and I guess that's it my usual sign off doesn't really work here so this is the Catapult I'm Jamie Greene thank you for listening stay in touch bye for now

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