Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Taylor Lautner Says Some Stuff!

I spent yesterday afternoon supervising an eighth grade girl working on a project for her Religious Education class.  She wasn't half as interested in her essay on Representations of Good and Evil In The Media as she was in the new issue of her tween magazine.
            Eventually, I was forced to confiscate. Walking it over to the other side of the classroom, I leafed through it idly, and it fell open to a well-thumbed page - a feature on the new Twilight movie.

Red letters screamed out at me -
            "Taylor Lautner Says Some Stuff That Makes Us Fall In Love With Him Even More!"
            Seriously?  I've read a few snarky criticisms about teen journalism and I though the bloggers were writing parodies.  I had no idea they were quoting!
            I turned the page and saw a sidebar feature on the next-most-upcoming Twilight film Breaking Dawn:
             "FYI & BTW.  Bella and Edward get married, go on their honeymoon and then, well, things start to get a bit ca-razy.   Like, freaky-half-vampire babies crazy.  Some Freaky Shiz goes down - cue scary red eyes and even pastier skin for KStew.   Cool much?"
            Blaaaaaah. Madam Eighth-Grade was typing diligently, and fascinated, I read on - 
            "Tell us a secret from the set.  What do you do when you're not filming?"
            "I catch grapes in my mouth."
            "Sounds like quite a talent you've go there!"
            After this less than stellar kick off, the interviewer dug deep and plumbed the depths of the boy's soul:
            "What's the craziest moment you've ever had with a fan?"
            I think the most difficult thing is when they pass out.  It's broken into levels.  The first level is screaming.  The second level is crying.  When they start crying, you feel really bad for them, so you touch them because you want to make them feel better and then they pass out."
            "That's got to be awkward."
            "Well, when they pass out, you feel really bad."
            Snorting, I flipped back toward the cover and ran into a full page advertisement for pimple cream:  
            "OMG!  Proactiv is my BFF!  Heart, Delta.  XOXO."
            Right after that came a very pink page:  
            "The Art of the Perfect Kiss: A Seven Step Guide.  A perfect first kiss should be less raging thunderstorm than slow sunrise.  Think soft, short, gentle movements, with your mouth open only a little.  You don't want things to get too slobbery…"
            The Taylor Lautner stuff was harmlessly puerile, but this - !  My brain hurt.
            Against all expectations, sandwiched between the garbage the magazine contains some moderately sensible and compassionate advice (tricked out in baby-talk and rotten spelling) on the perils of anonymous chat-rooms, and several advice columns dealing with Defining your Own Self-Worth (ironic, in context) and coping with the emotional ramifications of your divorced Mum dating a new man.  
            But the bulk of the magazine is acres and acres of cosmetics and hair products - surely unaffordable for the 11 year-old target audience - that are absolutely seriously not in any way being peddled by outside advertisers (This is my absolute for real FAVE nail polish! -"the only downer is that I have to commit to one color for a whole two weeks.  Starts from $35.") and other advice columns that while outwardly pushing healthy family relationships, subvert the good intentions with the clear message that normal tweens see any sort of family relationship as just, well, eewwwww:  
            "A study compiled by the Federal Government reveals that teens spend an average of 40 hours a week with their family.   Thinking about spending that much time with your 'rents is enough to make you cry…"
            I say again: blaaaaah.  Even a kissing seminar for the prepubescent set can't be as bad as that.
            "Your first step to makeout magic is to find the actual problem.  Is he a teeth cracker?  Tonsil tackler?  Or maybe he has an unfortunate problem with, um, saliva?  PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!  The boy can't get any better if you screw up your face in disgust every time he comes near! Like all good sports, the only way to ace it is to practice up.  So get onto it!" 
            No diagrams? I confess to feeling disappointment. I was looking forward to seeing how an illustrator could make tongues and tonsils come across all kawaii with hearts and flowers.

In a flash of empathy, I understood my own mother's  blanket and unyielding objection to the YM Magazine I bought so religiously every month the year that  I was thirteen.
            "What are you giggling about over there?"
            "It's the My Most Embarrassing Experience page.  This one - oh, it's soooooo bad - in this one, this one girl was at sports camp and she had her period while she was there and the boy she had a crush banged into her during a basketball game and he noticed that she was wearing a pad."
            "May I see that?"
            I passed the magazine over.
            "Three quarters of these stories are about girls dying of embarrassment because someone saw a pack of tampons in the bottom of their bag!"
            "Well - yeah."
            Mum looked at the magazine rather coldly.  "Why, exactly, is it embarrassing for someone to grasp that the writer is a biologically functioning female?"
            She appeared to have an incredibly loose grasp of the obvious.  I floundered.  
            "Because, well - they're just - well... read the magazine! If it wasn't embarrassing, why would people be writing to the magazine about being embarrassed?" (At thirteen, I accepted everything I read in print as gospel.  I was a very trusting child.)
            "Look at it this way," I said, trying to make her understand. "If you think about it, YM is actually offering a public service.  It's like a support group for all the teenage girls in America - if I can read about how other girls suffer this too, I won't feel so bad if a pad falls out of my locker and someone sees it. "
            Mum's lips thinned.  "Is stress making you fat?"  She read aloud. "Get Lucky in Love: 7 Moves to Make Guys Melt! For the love of-  Tabubilgirl, you're thirteen!"
            "It's important."  I argued.  "If I don't learn it all now, how will I know all this stuff later when I need it?"

Approximately three issues later, and two weeks before my fourteenth birthday, my family moved from California to Northern Chile.
            "What do you want as a birthday present?" My friend Theadora asked me.
            "O.MG."  I said. "What I really really want is a subscription to YM magazine. You can't buy it down there."
            "You can't get YM in Chile?!" Theadora looked suitably horrified.  "Don't you worry, Tabubilgirl. I personally guarantee to keep you supplied.  One subscription, tied up in a ribbon, on your birthday.  I promise."*
            There were no words for my relief. She had taken one major moving worry right off my mind.
            Theadora came round to see me the very next day. "I'm not allowed to give you YM for your birthday."
            "I told my mom about it last night, and she went straight to the phone and called your Mom, and she says that your Mom says I'm not allowed to give it to you. It was absolutely none of their business, but now I'm not allowed-"
            "Can't you just secretly get it anyway?  And give me another little birthday present to hide the real one?"
            Theadora looked glum. "I thought of that too.  But your mom will see the magazine when it gets delivered to your place, and then we'll both be in trouble. And she'll hide it on you anyway."
            We sat silently on my bed, morbidly envisioning a future empty of YM Magazine.

Thank You, O Mothers of California, for insisting that I grow up free of tween journalism and forced to make - or not make - my own opinions about boys, movies, makeup and the subtle sartorial differences between brushed and stretch denim skirts.  I had to figure out kissing all on my own.  In my own time.  And I'm sure I'm not morbidly embarrassed about half the things I ought to be.
            But I don't feel deprived.  I managed to pick up a heart-stopping crush on Jonathan Brandis from SeaQuest all on my own initiative.  I had two posters - one on my wall and one in a crush-proof poster roll, for when I got old and grey and the first one faded. I muddled by.

* Fourteen year old girls talked in italics in 1994.  Things haven't changed much since.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Steel City Drag

Yesterday afternoon we went to the Drag Races to watch the time trials for the June meeting.  The drag strip is about 8 minutes west out of town on the alluvial plain - to the north, east and west, hills rise shadowy and blue in the far distance but between the blue shadows the land is perfect for drag racing.The lineup of cars wasn't huge - only thirty or so vehicles, but there were an awful lot of different types - street cars, sedans, rebuilt hot rods, a couple of fair-dinkum drag racers and about 6 kinds of motorcycle - from a Kawaski Crotch Rocket to something that looked like a homebuilt cross between a dirt bike and a Harley.  There was a category called "Funny Car" -  I was expecting fiberglass hot dogs and fabulous paint jobs and was DEEPLY disappointed to learn that "funny car" is a technical term for a specific sort of car running on a specific sort of non-standard fuel. 
            The cars start their run with a wet-tire burnout to heat up the rear tires.  Particularly noisy smoking burnouts receive warm applause from the connoisseurs in the stands, then the lights go green and the cars go off like rockets.  I don't know how the drivers kept straight lines - in the queue behind the starting line they must have inhaled so much burned rubber its a wonder they could hit the accelerator on cue.
            But most did.  And then they'd come back and do it again.   And again.  Vrroom vroom Blat - Whhhhhaaaaaaaaaahhh POW - out comes the parachute.  The parachute isn't really needed, but it looks good.  Polite applause.  And the next one starts goes Vrrrroooom and then the next one and the next one and….
How many time can you watch a car drive 1/8 of a mile in a straight line?!!  I gave up on the cars and started people watching.             We'd done our best: I'd worn a black T-shirt with the words "kiss me" on the front and Mr Tabubil wore one with a silhouette of a Llama in a crosshair, but we were outshone by the gentleman in the black t-shirt with the words "The Boyfriend" and an arrow pointing to his face, and the words "The Legend" with an arrow pointing rather lower.
            Costume ran to amen beards and hoochie skirts, with Daisy Dukes on the younger women and heavy gold jewellery on the males too young to have cultivated the chest hair to go with it.  One woman was working a small gas fired BBQ.  Turning the chops and sausages with one hand, she dribbled cigarette ash with the other and desultorily hiked at her skirt - the waistband hung so low she showed off more plumbers-butt than most plumbers.             Aside from the fashion parade, it was a family show - small kids with Hotwheels cars climbing all over the fence between the spectators and the return lane and waiting for the big thrill: a wave from a driver puttering back toward the starting line.  The star of the afternoon was a fourteen year old girl from the Junior Drag Club, who clawed 84 mph out of a miniature drag racer so delicate it looked like it was made of matchsticks and was towed back to the pit by a motorized wheelchair.             The sun was hot and the flies were demented and the cars kept roaring, and about when I was bored absolutely rigid, a green saloon came roaring out of the start on one rear tire and the axle snapped clean off.  A pretty little prang!  Hurrah for wild excitement!   And reasonably soon after that the time trials were over and we could GO HOME.   I'm not nearly enough of a car freak to need three hours of it.  Mr Tabubil, at least, had a blast. 


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saturday Matinee

Yesterday afternoon we chanced the new Toy Story movie at the local movie theater. 
            Mr Tabubil wanted to know: "Can we bring in our own snacks?  Only if we can't, I need to wear a larger jacket."  
            Mr Tabubil is the Lord High Acolyte of smuggling food into a movie theater - and his friend Gordon is the Grand High Priest.  Back in Canada, where the weather was cold and the coats were heavy, he would walk into a cinema with a 2L bottle of soda in each pocket, and Gordon would be carrying a whole KFC chicken dinner.

We were the littlest bit trepedatious about taking in a matinee.
            Mr Tabubil wanted to know: "Are we going to be able to see the screen for all the flying popcorn?"
            I took his hand and told him that whatever happened, it couldn't be worse than the time we went to see The Lion King in suburban San Francisco on opening weekend in 1994.  We went together - Mum, Dad, my sister, and me.  The popcorn was flying like a salty white blizzard, babies were screaming like tin whistles, parents ran up and down the aisles chasing hysterical toddlers with voices like piccolo foghorns and then the lights went down and the noise level rose.
            A shaft of light broke the darkness - the door at the back of the theater opened and we could see a father stumbling down the aisle, hugging Jumbo-sized tubs of popcorn and buckets of soda to his chest.   He stopped, blind in the dark, halfway down to the screen.
            "Vera?"  He quavered.  "Vera?!"
            On the far side of the room, across two aisles and a storm of pre-teens, a hand waved vaguely through the popcorn gale.
            "Vera?   I can't see you!!!" His voice cracked and he swung his head desperately back and forth, squinting into the murky, popcorn-scented darkness.  His nerve broke, visibly, and he looked ready to bolt.
            The four of us smiled nastily at each other and settled back in our seats to enjoy the show.

Our matinee was almost an anticlimax- only one shower of popcorn - barely a drizzle, really, and I didn't even notice the comings and goings of the bathroom breaks - possibly because I had napkins from the snack bar jammed into my ears trying to reduce the sound of the film track down to a manageable level.
            I've heard dire stories about our sweet little cinema, but as most of ones about spiders come from the same source that told me Not to Drink the Water or I'd DIE of Red Earth, I tend to discount the more extreme reports. ("And that was when the giant huntsman crawled onto the back of my chair-")
            Nothing chewed its way out of the armrest.   Nothing fell out of the ceiling.  It is simply a pretty little country cinema that specializes in blink-and-you-miss 'em runs of major hollywood blockbusters and midnight marathons of the Twilight movies.  (They know their demographic.)  With the occasional managable hitch in the screening room.
            And the movie was awful sweet.  Do go see it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

He Got Beaten By a Girl

The Most Honorable Rudd is out and Gillard is in.
Swift, short and mostly bloodless.
As the affair unrolled, the conversation at the high school touched only lightly on politics and policy, and focused on the personal.
            "Rudd's out for sure.  Julia's in."
            "She's sensible enough.  Do you reckon she'll step back on the mining tax?"
            "Do you think labor will lose the government in the next election?  THAT'S the question.  D'you reckon it'd shatter the party, having a woman in power now?"
            "Abbott wants more workchoices.  Mean as a cut snake, that man.  Who wouldn't take Julia?"
            "They say in the paper that Julia'll get 10 000 votes just for being a woman."
            "But how many d'you reckon she'll LOSE because she's a woman?"
            "You know what?"  A little science teacher said stoutly.  "I don't care.  Right now, I'm proud.   I'm proud that my daughters will grow up in a country where, even if it's just for a little while, the head of our government is a woman."
A civics teacher snorted.  "She got enough grief when she was his deputy.  Imagine what she'll get now?"
            "Rudd wasn't to impressive himself, you know.  They say he actually reduced a stewardess to tears the other week - she brought him the wrong meal and he just yelled and screamed and jumped up and down on her till she was CRYING."
            "Yes, well… he's been under a lot of stress the last few weeks.  You can imagine what it must have been like for him."
            "Sure - but how often do men start on MALE stewards like that?  Can you even imagine that happening?"
            "Just last week at a press conference a female reporter asked him what he thought about the crisis he was facing and he said, he actually said "it's not as bad as that the crisis you're wearing."  Because she was wearing trousers and a hat and tie.  At some point, it stops being a bad day or funny ha ha and turns into a symptom.  You know?"
            "They say" the science teacher said juicily "he cried like a BABY when he stepped down.  The tears just RAN down his face, all the way through his speech.  Julia was very gracious, I thought.  Said she hadn't planned or expected it- "
There was universal snorting.
            "You can't blame him for crying."  The civics teacher said.  "He'd been through a hell of a time."
            "Yeah… maybe."  The science teacher said reluctantly.   "But I like to think he was upset because he got beaten up by a GIRL."

And that disturbs me.  Okay, I lie.  It makes my chest tight and drives me up the wall.
            "You throw like a girl."
            "You fight like a girl."
            "You write like a girl."
            "You cry like a girl."
Why is being a girl always so darned BAD?
Maybe I'm late to the party, but there's a weird, hypertrophic masculinity sprouting up all over the place - it's all over the TV, all over the radio, all over the pub and the office - and in it, the word "girl" is being broadcast in stereo as inadequate, badly performed, and shameful.
In the western world, in 2010, I am a pejorative.

There's a Czech add for the sport of Rugby that's being broadcast during this world cup. It's funny - people love it. It's all over the net.
A soccer player falls down, rolling in an outrageous pantomime of agony. A medic rushes onto the field. The medic deploys a comb and hairspray. The player smiles coyly and gets back up to his feet.
Words appear on the screen. "Soccer is for GIRLS."

Message received loud and clear. REAL men aren't girls, because the things that girls do are pointless.
And I'm not proud that my daughters - or my sons - will grow up in a world that tells them that.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Lion's Lady

I’m wending my incredulous way through one of my sister’s romance novels.  It's called The Lion's Lady, and was written by a writer with the suitably harlequin-esque name of Julie Garwood.  I like romance novels. They're the only sort of book I feel comfortable reading in the bathtub.  If I drop one in the water, it improves the plot. 
            The book concerns a charming young English lady raised in America among the Dakota, so that she may one day return to England in order to dispatch her father (deposed king of an ambiguous principality) for the crime of torturing his populace, having her mother declared insane and then leaving a bloody trail in his wake as he chased his actually-completely-sane wife all the way to the colonies.
            Naturally, on her return to Fair Albion, our comely heroine is seriously distracted by the most eligible bachelor in England, only he’s not generally regarded as particularly eligible, because his countenance is so steep and stern and cold that he sends debutantes squeaking in fright.  Except that he’s not really cold and cruel, he’s just tormented by the nightmares engraved on his soul by his years in His Majesty’s Service.  Honestly, in almost every single regency romance novel ever written, the aristocratic hero is a double agent posing as a roué to hide his work for the secret service.  It’s a wonder that people didn’t, as a matter of course, address aristos with the words “Ah, my dear Lord _____.  Been rattling off to the continent and topping venal traitors to the crown this week, eh, what?”  
            With the deep spiritual understanding given to her by her years among the Indians, Christine instinctively understands all this and the two of them fall passionately into bed – or a convenient bathtub - every 15 pages all the way through the book. And because he’s eligible she thinks the fuss and bother of marrying him would be a good smokescreen for her real mission in England. It’s not as if she’s actually attracted to him.  Goodness, no.  That passionate grope on the balcony on page 32 was just a once-off. Seriously.
            In the course of their romance, the eligible bachelor foils carriage-loads of ruffians bent on mayhem and ravishment, and she proves how capable she is by foiling even more ruffians, while simultaneously driving him demented by making lots of obscure pronouncements about Great Spirits and Buffaloes (Mr. Eligible needs cease to let himself be sidetracked wondering where a proper English Miss met real live buffaloes, and start being infuriated by the idiocies that she spouts as deep spiritual Indian wisdom.)
            The book is a real bodice-ripper.  I counted three dresses lost to passionate shredding, ditto two dressing gowns, and another dress lost to an amorous encounter with bathwater.  (That’s another thing about Regency romances; the characters bathe so often that they present their calling cards with pruney fingers.  And tread the floorboards of their Inigo Jones townhouses with pruney toes, because the heroines are far too postmodern to wear slippers!)
            Ah yes, the denoument. The His Majesty's Secret Service helps Christine to top her dad (because he turned out to have previously topped an awful lot of the secret service) and they find lots of jewels that he buried under a rosebush (which they send to his destitute nation - to buy bread and powdered milk and disposable diapers, I presume) and Christine and Mr Eligible get married and live happily (but not too happily, because then she wouldn’t have any more excuses to look feisty and coy and trip him onto hearth rugs for passionate make-up sex) ever after.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dreams of Twilight

 I have not read one of the Twilight books, nor seen any of the movies (the wikipedia summaries don't count), but my students are right in the prime demographic and last night the publicity barrage caught up with me and I dreamed about Twilight.
            Edward the Sparkly Son of Darkness lurked around corners looking glum and jaundiced, but this time out the worm turned: the pouty heroine (me) found a glittery emo boy with unexpectedly large incisors skulking about behind her to be rather alarming and called the sheriff to ask for a restraining order.  Two blocks distance, minimum.
            The sheriff picked Edward up and read him the riot act and Edward's stock expression of disdainful ennui deepened until he looked as if he wanted to bite the entire universe in the neck.  Didn't anyone realize that he had a literary imperative to Be With Me?  He didn't think much of it either, thank you very much - what sort of immortal being would enjoy skulking around after a teenager with about as much joie-de-vivre as a melted popsicle?  But did we see HIM going against canon?
            Well, DID we?!?
            The sheriff sighed, and apologized to Edward and told him to get right back to it, and told me to go talk to the author if I thought I had a problem.

When I was in university, vampire stories meant a young woman who stood up for herself, spent most of her life on the OFFENSIVE and took no BS from nobody.  Buffy was a role model.
            Today, vampires mean getting knocked up by your high school sweetheart, who will take care of you for ever and ever and ever and you will never have to worry about a thing.  Even when he hurts you.
            He loves you so VERY much that he crawls through your window at night to watch you sleep because daylight stalking just isn't enough - he just can't BEAR to be away from you for even a little bit. 
            We all know how well that sort of co-dependency works out in the real world. Buffy would have told him to grow up - right before she pitched him off the roof.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Big Hair!

Stellar entertainment in the hair salon this afternoon.
As I was having all my split-ends lopped off, a man strode in and sat himself - with emphasis - on the seat next to mine.
He had a military cut, perhaps half an inch of hair on his head, and his temples were receding. There wasn't much of anything up there. Which was maybe why he had such an impact when he declared (in stentorian tones WITH audible exclamation marks) "I want VOLUME!"
He peered at the mirror, tweezing his diminuitive coiffure skyward, and turned to stare sternly at his stylist, who was biting her lip.
My hairdresser was quivering.

Then he chose the brushes.  His stylist voted for a comb.  He waved it sternly away and demanded a roller brush.  Three inch diameter, the sort you use when you're coiffing Farrah Fawcett or Miss Universe.
Six or seven brushes later, he and the stylist compromised on a one and a half inch roller.
Both stylists were making muffled snorting noises now.
            "Do you have any mousse?"  The man demanded.
            "No no no!  Don't do it like that!  Like THIS!"
He snatched the aerosol from her hand and dabbing dots of foam all over his head, he proceeded to style his OWN hair, looking sternly at his stylist every few seconds to make sure she was paying attention.
Then he left, completely satisfied, looking exactly the same as when he came in.

He tipped, too.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Recipe: Crepe Suzette. Setting Stoves on Fire! (Carefully.)

In our cooking class last night we learned how to make Crepes Suzette. I acquitted myself with honor, but the man next to me did not pay attention and nearly lost his eyebrows. (For the love of heaven, when you're firing off alcohol, don't tip the pan toward you to see what is happening!)
            It was an interesting experience: half the class grasped the nature of the crepe instinctively and the other half just as firmly did not.  At one end of the stove, a sixteen year old coolly tossed golden crepes into the air. At the other end, my cooking partner crouched over the stove muttering "pour it, pour it, swirl it round the pan, more more more - Ooooh. (descending chord.)  That’s yucky.  You think the mixture's still too thick?"
            The mixture was too thick, and it stayed too thick, until we’d stirred in so much more liquid it seemed that we had a bowl of pure milk, with no egg or flour left in it.  But it poured and swirled properly, so we must have achieved a proper homeopathic dilution, full of tight molecular memories of gluten-and-protein.
            And if you boil your goopy rejects in a sufficiently alcoholic sauce for a sufficiently long time, it doesn't matter one jot or tittle what they were like when you started.  Best sort of bread-pudding you ever had – booze and oranges.  Mmmmm!

Crepes Suzette!

Serves  4 people, at 3 crepes/person. 
Note: Crepes can be made ahead of time and stored under glad wrap or wrapped in tinfoil till ready to be used.

Basic Crepe recipe (Saul doubles this because he knows these things):
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp castor sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs.
Zest (and ONLY zest - no bitter white pith whatsoever, thank you!) of one orange
1/4 cup melted butter.
extra milk.
Drop first five ingredients into blender and process till completely smooth!   Scrape down the sides of the blender with a knife or flat-bladed spatula to clear out flour deposits, then with the blender running, add the melted butter in a thin stream.  Pour batter into bowl and allow to rest for half an hour at room temperature.  During this time the flour will swell and hydrate, thickening the batter.  Stir in more milk.  Good crepe batter should be less than the thickness of pouring cream - almost translucent.
To cook crepes:
Over medium-high heat, spray a cheap metal frying pan with aerosol cooking oil (NOT butter!)  Assume that your batter is too thick and add a little more milk.   
Pour 1/3 - 1/2 of a ladle of batter into the pan and swirl to coat the base.  You should have poured a thin, even coating - if the mix goops and runs in patches rather than pouring smoothly, it is probably too thick. In this case, add a little more milk.  
Cook the crepe until the very  edges are golden-brown and beginning to come away from the pan of their own accord.  Flip the crepe with spatula or your fingers, whatever works.  The bottom should be a pale gold - up to a light golden brown is okay.  Cook the other side for just under a minute, then drop the crepe onto a plate or cutting board and fold into quarters (this helps hide holes, irregular edges and gloppy bits.)  Do not re-grease the pan.  Continue till all crepe batter is used up.
Assume that your first time around, you will make lots of thick pancakes and really strange gloppy things until you get the hang of it.  When things aren't working, adjust the consistency of the batter and the temperature of the stove until it clicks!

Five oranges + zest of one orange
2 tablespoons castor sugar
100 g butter
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon cointreau
1 tablespoon brandy
Take the zested orange and section it:  With a paring knife, slice off all of the pith and skin membrane.  Cut the orange into membrane-less segments by slicing very gently between the membranes with a knife - allow the weight of the knife to guide the cut down into the orange flesh.  Remove all seeds.  Place segments onto a plate and set aside.  Eat the rest of the orange - it has lots of fiber and is good for you.
Juice 4 oranges and sieve the pulp.  Push the pulp against the sieve with a spoon to get as much juice as possible.  Add the zest to the juice.
Over a VERY high heat, add 2 tablespoons of castor sugar to a pan.  Toss in a dash of orange juice.  Toss the pan over the heat until it bubbles toffee-colored.  As soon as caramelization is complete, toss in a shot of brandy - and let it flambé!  Toss in a shot of cointreau and let that flambee also!  (Shout Wheee!  And guard your eyebrows.) 
Note: Your window of time between caramelization and carbonization is SMALL - have all your ingredients at your elbow.  
The flambéing will deglaze the pan, so don't worry about the sticky toffee coating.  Add the rest of the orange juice.  If you find weirdly formed lumps of scorched toffee in your pan, do not worry -this is a GOOD thing, and will dissolve back into the sauce.
Reduce the liquid in the pan by half - until it is sticky and syrupy.  As it reduces, toss regularly to stop a skin from forming on the pan, and stir if necessary to break up toffee lumps.  Meanwhile - warm your serving plates.  (Warm plates for a warm dish!)  
Add  the butter.  Toss the pan to melt the butter (real chefs don't stir!)  Add the cream to stabilize the sauce and stop the butter separating out.
Drop 2-4 crepes into the sauce (note:  the starch from the crepes will also help stabilize the sauce).   

Add the orange segments.    

Cook over a low heat until your crepes are all yummy and saucy.  Add another drop of cointreau or grand marnier, so that the sauce is warmly alcoholic.  Place 2-3 crepes in the center of a plate and drop on a couple of cooked orange segments and a dash of extra sauce.  Add a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.  (preferably home-made from an  Anglaise base - see link for recipe.  If you intend to use Dairy Bell vanilla icecream, this whole recipe has been wasted on you.  Go away and order a Pizza.)  

Repeat with more crepes until you run out of crepes and  your dinner guests are lying on the floor in a happy stupor, belts loosened and blissful smiles on their glazed faces!