"At the summit of Whiteface Mountain, a ski area not far from Lake Placid,
it was 33 degrees below zero, with an estimated wind chill of 100 below."
-- The New York Times, January 18, 2000
Yow! After suckering the Northeast with a few fluffy Summer-in-January
days, the weather has turned bah-RU-tal: ice-cold winds are whipping down the
street; little dogs are shivering way more than normal; citizens are disappearing
behind coats and scarves... and more scarves... and earmuffs... and a hat...
and another coat. Some people are so bundled up, they might as well be home
Wait! What did you say?
Now there's an idea! You see, all this ear-chomping cold got us thinking: maybe
it's time to roll out a "Very Special Big To Do," one that focuses not on getting
out of the house (where you could become seriously otter-popular
this week), but rather getting in it. Deeply, warmly, wonderfully INside.
So with that, we bring you...
Cozy Fan Tutti:
Cozy Go They All
by Colin Lingle
Read on and find the component parts of a lazy morning, a rainy afternoon,
that evening in, or a perfect weekend of pure unadulterated coziness. You'll
be snug as a bug in the proverbial rug. Or two bugs, depending. Bear in mind
that these suggestions are equally potent for one or two people (just double
the recipe), as a gift to someone or personal reward to yourself (repeat this
mantra: damn straight I earned it, damn straight I earned it...),
and generally non-gender specific (pretty floral patterns notwithstanding).
Shall we? Yes, lets.
Make Yourself At Home
Science tells us that coziness, as a state, does not arise spontaneously. Nor
can it be manufactured, unlike its overreaching and morally loose relative "atmosphere."
Sports bars have atmosphere. The Gap has atmosphere. Cozy... it comes from the
Coziness must be carefully coaxed into being by the strategic accumulation
of the "right" things. One must create an environment into which coziness can
naturally flow by ordering these things in "just such a way." Once you have
put the right things in just such a way, coziness -- arising zen-like -- becomes
Begin with your environment, the physical friction point between you and the
world. Your home or apartment is obviously where you want to start. Tents, cars,
and elevators may appear "cozy" at first glance, but we all know this doesn't
last. No, the living space is your canvas. NB: The kitchen and bathroom are
ancillary support spaces to the overall coziness, but are not cozy themselves.
Essentially, they contain too much porcelain.
(By the way, at the outset, you may be tempted to try and force the issue.
Do not allow this to happen. One small error in judgement and you'll never get
to the Promised Land.)
you'll want to bring in some rich, creamy -- almost fattening -- lighting. Out
with the desk lamps, bare bulbs, buzzing fluorescents. Out, out, out. The human
retina is a delicate little spot; treat it as such. Candles
are obviously a core element for almost any cozy place; if you have the knack,
you can turn any studio apartment into a mystical and seductive pied-a-terre
with pocket change.
There's no need to be strictly medieval, however. Lamps are fair game, as
long as they have a certain... humility. Eschew
it is braggadocio illuminated (and no, it's not noble). Instead, find a
lamp that will fill the room gently, elegantly. This is not only soothing, but
strategically romantic. The human face is complemented by light of certain warm
hues; moreover, it looks funny when it squints.
With the right lighting in place, it's time to move on to the creature comforts.
Perhaps the most important element of true coziness, there is simply no substitute
for getting rilly, rilly comfy.
Everybody In... Bed
Start at either end; let's pick the one farthest away from your head. We certainly
owe a debt to whatever itchy caveperson it was who first saw a sheep grazing
in a field and thought, "Hm... maybe I could turn that inside out and put it
on my feet." Find yourself some slippers;
no backtalk, just do it.
Now to swath the self itself. Here in the 21st century, there are really only
two options, one classic, one modern. Those of us who harken back to our roots,
who dwell in tradition, in history, will accept no substitute for
pjs. Those, on the other hand, who look bravely toward the future, will
pajamatically embrace perhaps the greatest invention of the space age:
(Some plucky New Zealanders are trying to reinvigorate the union
suit, but that model may -- like the 78
or the villanelle
-- have already plunged off the cliff of obsolescence. No hard feelings.)
Once you've come this far, it's good to have something to climb
or into that's
really up to the job. Don't skimp. You've got important reading and TV watching
to do; you'd hate to be halfway through "Wuthering Heights" or "Dr.
Zhivago" and find your sheets weren't really that cozy after all.
Do remember, however, that you're going to need something to keep you in a
state of mobile
coziness as you go back and forth from the kitchen
and the bathroom for
essential supplies. Again, flannel or fleece, you can't go too far wrong. There
is anecdotal evidence, though, that a fleece-fleece combination is a potentially,
situation. If you're going to get frisky with a friend, be responsible and ground
of course, are coziness brought to life. Why not get involved
Oh, and one last point on the topic of the Cozy Environment. In winter it's
generally too cold to have the windows open. But a really cozy room can, admittedly,
get stuffy, what with the candles, the cat, and all that flannel. Don't worry.
Your living space is well on the way toward deep coziness. But to seal the
deal, to really nail the landing, you have to be ready to commit. It's time
to make soup. Onion soup, pea soup,
chicken soup, asparagus soup, beer cheese soup, or lentil chili, it really doesn't
matter. But you'll need a big, delectable pot of it simmering away on the stove.
This is non-negotiable.
Soup without bread? Let's not even
(Meanwhile, in the course of researching this column, we discovered a whole
new way to tell someone they're not "The One." The Big To Do is proud
to present: bread for
when you can't commit.)
If you are developing an extended, multi-day zone of coziness then you will
need to plan a menu of items that will get you through. Cozy-authorized foods
include family recipes for chicken-and-dumplings, most mashed potato recipes,
and of course cookies. (Would that
we were all lucky enough to live in the Bay Area, where cookiesandmilk.net
speeds supplies to needy citizens.)
But these can all leave your kitchen in a state of wreckage, and god forbid
you get your new flannel pjs wet doing dishes.This is why choosy cozeurs
adore lasagna. Make it once (say, Friday night), and you can eat until Monday.
It's lunch; it's dinner; it's a balanced meal and a bedtime snack.
"But it's such a production," you lament. "Who has time? I have three back
episodes of Buffy to get through before I can even start on 'Groundhog Day!'"
Ah, but you'll be relieved to know that, in these modern times, an expansive
and provocatively conceived lasagna needn't
be an all day affair. If fact, it's downright quick. Furthermore, if your
taste doesn't run to the traditional Italian style, remember that the dish itself
is only a Platonic ideal; there as many
as can be imagined. As you cook, so shall you be fed.
desert at your peril. Three words: challah...
Cozy etiquette also demands vast quantities of tea,
which should of course be no problem for you. Tea,
Always plenty of tea
to be had.
And of course, now that we're doing cozy in (dramatic pause) the Year 2000,
the truth is you don't even really need to leave your house. Any number of considerate
companies will gladly bring your groceries
to the very threshold of your fortress of cozitude. Depending on where
you live, you can get varying levels of
service and freshness. Other folks will be happy to hook you up with straight
up delivery... and some even want to do dinner
and a movie.
Tell Me a Story
Which brings us to the last -- but oh so essential -- element you need to be
truly, madly, deeply cozy: a good read, a great flick, the right tunes. With
all the other elements for an exquisite escape in place, you'll finally make
it over the rainbow with your favorite author, actor, or musician whispering
sweet somethings at you. This may be the most highly subjective realm of all,
for as they say, every time a different person picks up a novel, it is new all
over again. That, and there's no accounting
for taste. The Big To Do, not so vain as to force it's views on anyone (oh,
wait), solicited opinions from around the country as to the "talent" whose art
is innately cozifying. This is what we found...
The jazz singer leads the pack of cozy artistes, and there are so very
many to choose from. Diana Krall's album "Love
Scenes" was mentioned among contemporary singers. Chet Baker's
Of..." collection was a classic from the past. Experts agree, however, that
Holiday and Ella
Fitzgerald are at the very top of this particular game. How wonderful that
we don't need to choose between them.
Cozy rock-n-roll is a robust oxymoron, but music is as broad as the world.
A new album from a little-known New Orleans combo,
Chain, is rich, sweet, bluesy collection that works just fine on a cozy
day. From the classical section, the soundtrack to the film,
Short Films About Glenn Gould," collects dozens of easy-to-enjoy piano pieces
(primarily those of the masterful and melodious Bach) while at the same time
remaining a serious consideration of Gould as a musician. And a surprise suggestion,
but one worth looking into, is Danny Elfman's score for the film
Scissorhands." Every cut is excellent.
Suggestions from the FOBTD (friends of... ) include Mark Helprin's
Winter's Tale" and Nicole Mones' "Lost
in Translation," which an esteemed colleague describe as "a totally absorbing
chronicle of an American translator living in China. She is hired to work on
an archeological dig, in search of the missing remnants of 'Peking Man,' and,
of course, love and adventure ensue. Totally groovy magic carpet ride to China,
if you're into that sort of thing." And so we are.
Country Life" by Rachel Cusk is reportedly "fantastic. A strange and cerebral
tale of, big surprise, a city girl's trip to the English countryside." And,
if you've already made your way through the continuing
Potter series (which, notably, is perfectly acceptable subway reading in
New York), then you might try a lost treasure called "
of Birds," by Barry Hughart. It's the most extraordinary adventure, a "tale
of an ancient China that never was."
Which brings us finally to the movies you'll watch as you settle under your
chenille blanket in your fleece pjs all filled up with soup and cookies. The
cozy film must be crisp enough to keep you awake (hey!) but not too demanding.
Strangely, John Hughes (in
general) appeared again and again in our informal survey results, so there's
a whole genre you can go to in a pinch.
is popping out of the VCR? "The Philadelphia
Story," with Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart is a timeless
classic (and how could you go wrong with that cast?). "Anne
of Green Gables" gets a sentimental nod, as does "The
Little Princess." (The 1939 version, that is; but the 1995
remake was well done, too.)
Ah, but what is a cozy night in front of the flickering screen with out a foreign
film? Try Bill Forsyth's comedy "Local
Hero," which is a riot; a subdued, Scottish one, but a riot nonetheless.
Or, for a lovely movie about how we love the movies, take home Giuseppe Tornatore's
Cozy Is as Cozy Does
Warm? Comfy? Sleepy? Happy? By now, everybody should be making plans to ride
out this cold front in style. Just apply the techniques above, sample from our
suggestions, indulge yourselves, and invent your own perfect escape... without
ever leaving the comfort of your own house!
The Big To Do will be back next week with more extroverted extra-curriculars.
But in the meantime, have a cozy weekend!
By the time you read this, Colin
Lingle will be on the sofa with a big piece of lasagna.
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