Sunday, November 23, 2008

BRILLIANT!

Have you seen Garfield Minus Garfield?

It's brilliant!







check it out!


http://garfieldminusgarfield.net/




It strikes me as very Scott McCloud. By that, I mean the empty panels really convey meaning. it's hard to explain without plagiarizing Scott's book, Understanding Comics. It's a great read that can really broaden your appreciation of ... nearly everything. Yes. I've linked there if you have even a passing interest in sequential art (that's comics and / or graphic literature).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Recipe: Butternut Squash Bisque

Ok, so here's a Real Recipe.
It's perfect for Thanksgiving or all autumn. You can also peel and cut the squash and stick it in the freezer for a couple months. This recipe makes a lot of bisque, and with the butter and cream, it's filling, so you may want to halve it.

Butternut Squash Bisque

1/2 stick butter (4Tb)
1 medium onion, chopped (any will do, but the sweetness of a vidalia onion is nice in this dish)
1 small carrot, chopped or shredded
dash house seasoning
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2 cubes, about 2 pounds.
3 cups apple cider
1 cups water
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 - 1 tsp ground nutmeg
dash - 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Heavy Cream

In a big crock, dutch oven, or soup pot, melt the butter and saute the onion and carrot until the onion is tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Season w/ house seasoning.

Add the cider, water, squash and other seasonings. Cover and simmer about 15-20 minutes until the squash is tender. Blend the soup, either with a stick (immersion) blender or by scooping it in batches into a normal blender. If you do this, be sure to cover the lid with a towel and lean on it hard so it doesn't blow off and paint your ceiling with soup (and scald the shit out of you too!).

Once the bisque is smooth, stir in the cream and adjust the seasoning.
YUMMY!

Joys of Fatherhood

The other day I said something that might have (accidentally) been wise. When asked about parenting, I said, "It's worse than you think, and better than you can imagine." Said with a wry smirk, it was meant to be reassuring. Or something . One of my old karate teachers said something like, "it's the worst nightmare you'll ever love." I've noticed that most people don't say 100% positive things about being a parent (or even 80% positive). It's like a common ground of ... I hesitate to say 'suffering'... but it sure ain't easy. When my wife and I announced we were expecting, all the parents began treating us like we had joined a secret society.

And we know, all too well, this is still the easy part. She's not even walking yet, let alone demanding toys and clothes, dating, driving .... EEKKKK!!!!!!


So our Ten-month old, who until about 4 weeks ago slept soundly through the night (a rare gift!) has started having trouble sleeping if we're not in the room with her. She'll wake, up, see we're not there, and freak out. Usually at around midnight, when our real good deep sleep is starting. So for a few weeks we've been up a lot and we're not used to it.

Not to bitch and moan, but it is irritating. :-) We've tried taking her for drives, and the Italian classic, feeding her.

Recently, say, the past 2 weeks or so, we figured out it's time to Ferberize the baby. Everyone I know agrees, this sucks in the short term, but is better in the long run as the baby learns that you aren't disappearing forever when they don't see you every second of the day and night, and it's the first step for them to learn independence. Or something.
By "everyone" I mean all the other parents I know, and our pediatrician. And all the parenting books and magazines we've read. It's like the album says, 50,000,000 Elivs fans can't be wrong.

But this is small comfort when she's wailing and screaming like she's being boiled at 2 am. We've found it helps to watch TV because it provides real, clear proof that only minutes have elapsed, not hours. It always feels like weeks, not seconds, listening to your baby cry.

edit: What kind of daddy am I? Here's a few pix... in a fun format
http://elfyourself.jibjab.com/view/exKb9OWoMKYvum1Sy193

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Watchmen Movie Trailer

I saw the new Watchmen trailer today, and it looks like this is the trailer that may be trying to attract people who aren’t already Watchmen fans (much like the new Star Trek trailer). The movie as a whole looks very promising IMO, though this trailer does appear to be much like most other superhero movie trailers. It’s an eye candy trailer, but it seems the hardcore comix fans are lukewarm to it and it’s taken the sheen off the apple for them.

Why? It seems like the filmmakers have changed the name of the super-team from The Minutemen to The Watchmen, which really is lame, but in 2008 I think the average moviegoer hearing the word “minutemen” is more likely to think of premature ejaculation than the Revolutionary War, so that might have something to do with it.

That said, I hope this is one of those things where the trailer is different from the final cut and they ‘fix’ it. But if they don’t, it’s not going to ruin it for me. We, as fans, need to allow certain latitudes for these translations to the screen, I think.

I’ve also read fan grumblings that Rorschach’s voice isn’t monotone enough, and that it’s lame that he has generic bad-ass gravely voice. I can’t get behind that. I mean, it’s not like his voice is super expressive, it’s still pretty flat and emotionless. Do you really want him to sound like a 1970s TV robot? [SPOILER ALERT, HIGHLIGHT TO READ] I think it will be cool if when he’s unmasked, if his voice is totally different, it would be a way to demonstrate his insanity and his character arc as he (mentally) transforms from Kovacs into Rorschach.

From what I’ve been able to glean of the plot so far, if the “alien” squid monster Ozymandias creates in the book is NOT in the movie, then what destroys New York, setting off the climax*? Does Ozy convince Dr. Manhattan to blow it up? How do they sell that to the public? The crux of Ozy’s plan was to convince the public that aliens had invaded, and we, as earthlings, need to set aside our differences to deal with this alien menace. World peace ensues (until the truth comes out). So without the fake alien, how will they do this? So that’s a major plot change.

* to me, the real Climax is when the newspaper prints Rorschach’s notes describing how the Alien is a hoax and presumably, this leads to an end in the fragile peace, and presumably, nuclear holocaust ensues for all. I could be wrong I guess, but for me, that’s the climax because Ozy’s plan was working until then.

But anyway, I’m still psyched about the movie. Maybe I’m easily amused. Hey, it’s cheaper this way.
Final thought: Just like when I first read the book in college, I still think the line, “The world will look up and shout, ‘save us,’ and I will whisper ‘no’.” is totally badass and really cool in general (again, easily amused). I think it could take a place on one of those Top 10 (or 100) Cool Movie Lines Ever lists.

BTW: If you don’t have it already, buy the book! NOW! You’ll thank me later.

Recipie: Chicken Salad.

Look, I never said I was the next Bobby Flay, alright? And yes, done right, Chicken salad is totally frickin' sweet! That said, it's basically a way to use up left over chicken. This isn't a bad thing. You could, if so inclined, cook chicken just for Chicken salad if it makes you feel better.

So anywho, this is good for left over or overcooked chicken. The mayonnaise and other ingredients make up for the dry meat if it's overcooked. Another trick is if you get a whole rotisserie chicken, the parts you don't eat can go in the salad. Any little scrap of meat you can scrape off the bones. In fact, this is usually considered juicier and sweeter. Breast- or thigh meat can be diced or chopped as long as it ends up in bite-sized pieces.

So... it's more of a method than a recipe, but here goes. Experimentation leads to inspiration, so go nuts.

Ingredients:
Must haves:
Chicken meat (you saw that coming, didn't you?), diced, at least a handsful*, up to whole chicken
Diced Apple, about 1/3 as much as the meat***
Mayonnaise - a good blob.
House Seasoning (see recipe below)
Ground or rubbed Sage, a generous dash per handful of chicken (I love sage w/ chicken).
Generous dash of Paprika (NOT the hot Hungarian kind)
Salt and pepper to taste

Options:
Diced Celery, about 1/5 the amount of the meat**
Diced or shredded carrot, about 1/5 the meat.
Diced tomato flesh, about 1/5 the amount of meat #
Generous dash of Ginger powder
A squeeze of lemon juice, to taste

Toss everything but the mayo and seasonings in a mixing bowl so all the diced bits are mixed evenly. Squirt or spoon mayo and mix that in to coat everything evenly. You can't take any out, so err on the side of caution at first, add more until you get the consistency you like. Add seaonings, mix, taste. Add Salt, pepper, other seasonings as needed.

* a "Handsful" (notice the "S") is when you cup both hands together into a scoop. Not just one handful, but both handfuls together.
** so if you have 5 handfuls of chicken, use 1 handful of celery.
*** this is the "Secret Weapon" in my recipe. HoneyCrisp apples are best, or another crisp, juicy apple. It's a good textural contrast to the meat, and the juice masks any dryness in the meat. The sweetness also makes a tasty counterpoint to the seasonings.
# Avoid the watery pulp and seeds as these make the salad soggy and the seeds can be bitter.

Ok, here's a less schitzo ingredient list, but the amounts are guesses##:
2 cups diced chicken meat
1/2 cup diced apple
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 T house seasoning
1 t ground sage

mix as above.

## This is the dirty secret of cookbooks. real chefs and cooks don't measure anything, just take handsfuls and cups (drinking cups, not 8 oz liquid measuring cups) and whatnot and a dash of this and a pinch of that... cookbook writers estimate it all. That said, they are experts at making these approximations and the better ones test their recipes before publishing.
My point? Feel free to be fast and loose with recipes, especially if it's something you feel comfortable with. I usually follow a recipe exactly the first time, and see how it goes, make notes and mess with it the second time and see if it gets better (I'm batting about .900). The exception is in baking, which is more science than craft, so the recipe is more important in baking (especially if the baking recipe lists ingredients by weight, when it's most accurate).
See a better discussion of all this in Alton Brown's Beard-Award winning book, I'm Just Here for the Food.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In Which I reveal that I'm a total Star Trek nerd....

[Shatner Impersonation] There’s a …. NEW… Trailer, for…. STAR. TREK!.... availableonlinenow…. [/Shatner]
http://www.startrekmovie.com/

Just to let you know where I'm coming from in my appreciation of All Things Star Trek; I like TOS (The Original Series), usually more in my memories of enjoying the reruns as a kid than when I actually watch it. Sometimes it is SO dated and hokey, but I still love it because at its heart is the buddy story of Kirk, Spock and McCoy and they are always a treat to see together because they are great characters. So I really hope this translates into the remake. I like TOS cast Movies better than the series, overall.

TNG (Star Trek The Next Generation) is my favorite Trek show, though DS9 (Deep Space 9) is probably the ‘best’ one. TNG will always hold a special place in my heart because it was like having a new Star Trek all our own, and it was a point of light in a dark part of my life (middle and high- school). It gave me a common ground with several people with whom I became friends so it’s mixed in with those memories of the few friends I enjoyed in that time. By the time I was in college, DS9 was in full swing and not just a spin-off of TNG and I didn’t watch it religiously, but several episodes stand out as some of the finest TV ever broadcast. And man, what great characters! Plain simple Garak could be his own TV show and be compelling. Gul Dukat, Odo, Quark, O’Brien in his quiet way… how do you not love these characters?

I liked probably 15 episodes of Voyager... mostly it was stupid trash, but I liked Tom Paris and Harry. Janeway was cool, and the Dr. was a good character too. But too much Borg! Between overuse and silly developments they lost their mystique. Sorry, 7 of 9 was not interesting, and showcasing her huge cans does not great television make. And the biological borg, whatever they were called, were silly. And that finale! Poof! We’re home! Roll credits! No emotion! No human event! WTF?!

As for Enterprise (the show), I only watched most of the first season, and I hear the best parts are seasons 3 and 4. Enterprise had real promise to be great, and Scott Bakula was great, so I'll make time for it sometime, though it often disappointed with corny trying-too-hard sexy scenes and too much of the vague pointless and uninteresting Future Guy subplot. Dr. Flox (Phlox?) was a good character too.

Aside: In re-reading the above, I notice a fixation on character. What can I say? It’s the way to capture the human experience which is the essence of all art. But I digress.

In general, I didn't dig how Star Trek became Time Trek as it went on. That just wasn't interesting to me and it made it lose it's sheen of plausibility as a possible future to our real Earth. For me, that's important, because Star Trek has always been about exploring the human condition (which is why it's okay that the aliens are usually "forehead of the week" aliens).

Make no mistake, I love Star Trek, warts and all, and consider myself a “Trekker.” That's why I care about the remake and hope it's great.
So my thinking is that this second trailer (remember the trailer?) is the "Hey Star Wars fans! Things blow up in this too, come see it!!!" trailer. Which is probably good, even Trekkers didn't flock to ST Nemesis. I mean, Trek will die if no tickets sell. We don't want that. Unless they want to bring back Voyager.

Some insight into the filmmaker’s ideas and where they're coming from can be found in this article: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20233502,00.html

While JJ Abrams is not a trekker, many in his crew (pun intended) are, so that bodes well. I think in the broad strokes it's going to be true to the established timeline and cannon, but as you can see in the design of the Enterprise, they've gone and mushed together the NCC-1701A (the refit Enterprise from the movies) and some kind of sex toy. The Warp pylons and tail of the engineering section look cartoonish, but I think the warp pylons still have that spinning aspect to the Bussard collectors (yes, I've read the tech manuals (told you I’m a Trekker)) for that classic TOS look. http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2008/11/star-trek-first.html
In a change from established cannon, the ship is built on earth instead of in orbit... one of a few changes that have purists up in arms. But so far they're not going to ruin it for me like midi-chorlians and Greedo shooting first did (more on that in another entry, but for now I’ll just say, Yes, Virginia, you CAN love them both!).

Warp Pylons notwithstanding, the look works for me, it's true to the original but with realistic updates for today’s tastes, and other than go-go skirts on military uniforms, fairly realistic looking. The look makes a visual continuum with the look of Enterprise, as this fictional future unfolds. I hear (from the article in the first link above) the bridge is a very cool set.

So if this really is a Trek movie, the trailer (remember the trailer?) probably shows most of the explosions in the movie, so I'm not worried about it being a nonstop action orgy with no Trekky cerebral elements that I love. But if that does happen, if it's done well, it will still be good. You know what I mean? Good is good. Good is not necessarily TOS, however. (I'm not saying TOS wasn't good, just that this movie will be different than the TOS that it's based on).

Other thoughts on things in the trailer: The dragon thing is corny. It's very Galaxy Quest. And the gratuitous Uhura undressing scene? Why? And call me conservative, but boobies in the trailer? I don't want my 6 year old seeing this in a trailer (I don't have a 6 year old, but you get my point) ... or even in the movie. One of Trek's strengths has always been that you can watch it with your kids, even if some of the thinky parts are over their heads (but until now (well, maybe in Enterprise too) you never had to cover their eyes).

Did I see the (in)famous orbital skydiving scene that's been rumored to be in the 'next' Star Trek movie since, like, Star Trek 6?

I like the cast. Spock looks and sounds perfect, and for some reason, I totally dig Simon Pegg as Scotty. I think this Kirk looks promising, depending on the script.

As to the characterization, what I can glean from the trailer and rumors, that is: Boy Kirk as insane Adrenaline junky is maybe further than I would have taken it, but it may work. I mean, he's like, 12 when he's stealing that car and still has some growing up to do (but driving it into a canyon just to jump out for thrills, though? WTF? You need MEDS! Not boot camp).

So I think the writers are going with Kirk and Spock bonding over their mutual isolation and misfit status... strangers to their own home worlds... this totally works for me (can you see my emotional scars from high school between the lines here? LOL. COL). It's probably the only thing they have in common and otherwise they are opposites, which makes them perfect foils. This is true to TOS, I think, and basically perfect! We know from TOS they are BFF, but not really why or how it happened, so this makes sense to me and if this is how they do it in the movie, it totally works.

In short, I'm keeping in an open mind until I see it, and see it I will, as I love most of JJ Abrams works, and it looks like fun. This shows promise and I don’t believe it will totally suck, so I’m so there… unless, of course, trailer #3 looks god-awful.

For further Star Trek fun, check out Star Trek Phase II fan-made episodes continuing TOS! Neat-O!
http://www.startreknewvoyages.com/index.html

Friday, November 7, 2008

Recipe the First: House Seasoning.

This is an idea I got from watching Paula Deen.

I make a "House Seasoning" that I use on almost everything, and it makes cooking more tasty and faster.

My mix is this:
4 tablespoons (T) Kosher salt
2 T black pepper
2 T garlic powder
1 teaspoon (t) cayenne pepper powder

Mix, later rinse, repeat.

I keep this in an airtight jar so it doesn't go stale or pick up humidity and melt into a solid block. and it goes in almost everything. One jar, easy.

You can add herbs too, like to the above, 1-2 tbls of italian seasoning, but with too much stuff, you stop tasting it all.
If I add to the above it's usually:
1-2 t ginger powder
1-2 t sage


FYI:
If I recall, Paula's was equal parts Salt, black pepper and garlic powder, but I'm not sure about that. and it's probably copyrighted, so you didn't hear it from me. ;-)

Yeah, I'm good like that

This is why I don't tell anyone I'm blogging... the overwhelming volume of my posts would keep people too busy reading to get anything else done.... NOT.

anywho, if you feel like reading one of the coolest blogs EVER, go here...
http://theoutbreak.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_archive.html