Sunday, May 31, 2009

Seven Word Sunday: Braised Short Ribs

Braised short ribs with tricolor egg noodles.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blogger's Little Helper

As anyone who pays attention to this blog has noticed (yes, both of you), I haven't had anything to write about lately. I've spent two weeks writing cheat entries like posting (bad) pictures of (good) food.

I've gone nearly four days without an entry of any kind, and this must stop. I've decided that my blog needs performance enhancing drugs. Not steroids...I can't really see how those would improve my creativity unless my outlet was sculpting giant blocks of wood with an axe. But something.

I couldn't decide on the right drug for me, so I evaluated several possibilities.

For writers, alcoholism has always just been a part of the job description. Rappers are misogynists, movie directors are coke fiends, and writers drink themselves to death. It's just what's done. Who am I to ignore the example set by Hemingway, Joyce, Capote or any of the multitude of others?

Pros: Gets you drunk. Makes you happy (for a while.)

Cons: Gets you drunk. Makes you happy (for a while.)

Conclusion: Writing is not fun, even for writers. Drinking makes you want to have fun. Not a good fit.

There is no great history of dope-smoking writers, the Beat generation excepted. And their output leads one to conclude that there is also no history of great dope-smoking writers. Furthermore, marijuana does not seem to inspire creativity aside from inventing a bushel of legitimate uses for hemp in the hope of fooling people into thinking the legalization movement is really about durable pants and strong rope. So why did I include marijuana in this evaluation? Because words...words...words... was bestowed with a generous honorarium from Woody Harrelson, Snoop Dogg, and a preponderance of Black Crowes.

Pros: Generous honorarium. Easily obtainable, especially in California.

Cons: Inspires nothing but the fortitude to sit through an entire Sanford And Son marathon on TV Land.

Conclusion: I would have to be high to think pot is the answer.

Crystal meth is the current darling of joke writers, probably because most of its enthusiasts are rather comical in ways that have nothing to do with drugs. Meth flourishes in dusty, dry small towns that offer no better entertainment than driving around and playing mailbox baseball or trying to score with your best friend's fifteen-year-old cousin. In other words, Nebraska, Texas and California. Meth makes you rob your family, makes your teeth fall out, and turns your skin into saddlebags. So while it has no direct link to creativity, meth cultivates the kind of rock-bottom despondence that often inspires great art.

Pros: Drags you from the middle class to the life of a toothless streetwalking junkie, thus attracting the attention of Hollywood producers.

Cons: Limited wardrobe consists mainly of wifebeaters, Lee jeans, and John Deere caps.

Conclusion: Crystal meth addiction represents a one-in-a-million shot to be the guy who finally becomes the Bukowski of trailer park drugs. In other words, even if you win, you lose.

After reviewing the available options, I have yet to find the right performance enhancing drug for my blog. I'll have to just keep slogging away like I'm walking in thigh high mud. In the meantime, dear readers, drug suggestions are more than welcome.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Seven Word Sunday: Chilaquiles

Tortillas, chicken, onions, eggs, taco sauce, cheddar.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Maybe The Buddhists Are Right.

Sometimes a bad thing happens and it ends up being good. Sometimes a good thing happens and it ends up being bad. And then sometimes a bad thing happens, gets better, and then gets even worse than before.

One of my duties at work is videotaping dance routines that will be used as a guide for animators to create CGI characters who dance. So I frequently use my personal camera for work stuff. The other day my camera got knocked off a desk while the zoom lens was extended. Naturally, the camera hit the ground lens-first and drove the lens housing a little bit into the camera body. The lens wouldn't retract, and the camera wouldn't take any pictures. Crap. I tried to wiggle the lens to no avail. That thing was STUCK. Camera repairs are not cost effective, so that was that for my poor Sony.

We have a bit of loss/damage money in our budget, so I took a chance and asked my boss if my camera could be replaced. "Sure," he said, to my surprise. "Just write up a little report and give me the camera and it should be no problem." Elated, I did just that and took the camera and report to my boss. He picked up the camera and fiddled with it for a minute before handing it back. "There you go!" he said. The lens was back in alignment and operating properly. Noting my astonishment, he said "I have kids. I can fix almost anything."

Great? Great. Right? Um, no. See, I'd had two days to fantasize about a new camera. I did all my research and had a new one picked out and ready to go. My Amazon trigger finger was itchy. I was perfectly happy with my camera until I allowed myself to shop for a new one. And now, my camera might as well have been one of those old timey deals with the accordion thing and the big black hood. I had my expectations raised and then dashed. The lens is still acting slightly wonky, so I may try to get it replaced anyway. Or I might throw it against a brick wall and say "Sorry, still not fixed."

So you see, sometimes a bad thing happens and then gets a lot better before getting all kinds of awful. Perspective is a bitch.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Attack Of The 50 Foot Pancakes

This morning I had breakfast with my old friend Cassie at The Griddle Cafe, where you can often spot hungover D-list celebrities soaking up the previous night's excesses with greasy hash browns and pancakes the size of Frisbees.

I had brown sugar banana pancakes. As delicious as they were, I was no match for them. I am a big eater, but I trembled in the presence of these powdered sugar-dusted manhole covers. I was not able to eat even half of my breakfast. I could not help but agree when Cassie pronounced herself "thoroughly unimpressed". Of course, that's easy to say for someone who ordered oatmeal with strawberries. But still, she had a point, as you can see below.

The reason you can't see the plate is that they are bigger than the plate. All THREE of them. Honestly, I cannot be expected to finish that. The waiter noticed that I was slowing down and asked if I wanted to take them home. "Hell yes, I do!" I replied. "I'm not letting these pancakes beat me. They've won the battle, but I will win the war." And tonight for dinner, I did!*

*I did not.

I swear, they're almost gone. These pancakes and I are having the longest relationship I've had in some time, and I respect them enough to finish them. Dearest brown sugar banana pancakes...tomorrow morning is going to be the end for us, as I taste you for the last time. Our parting will be bittersweet, especially if I run out of syrup. But fear not. If today is any indication I will feel your presence in my body for a long time to come.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

5,000 WWW Fans Can't Be Wrong

This morning at 10:39 AM local time, some poor bastard in Kearny, New Jersey became the 5,000th visitor to this here blog! I grew up in New Jersey (the good part), which makes this rather appropria...well, not really. Maybe poeti...well, not that either. Let's go with "a total coincidence". Nevertheless, I salute you, unknown visitor! Even if you did only stay zero seconds.

5,000 visitors is not a milestone that should go unexamined and un-garishly celebrated. So I've endeavored to help give you an idea of just how large a number 5,000 is.

Did you know that 5,000 is... many hours per week the ladies at Gingers Is The Watchword spend watching BBC America? They don't even show baseball on that channel! many marriage proposals comments Girl Interrupted gets on every entry? many followers Dr. Zibbs has? And that he still bitches about it? many miles Beckeye must stay away from Michael Johns, according to his restraining order? many times Soda & Candy has kicked an American (with one of her 5,000 shoes) for asking if the dingo ate her baby? many more places Gwen's monkey has traveled than I have? many PSIs one of MJenks' farts produces? many days it's been since Falwless wrote a real entry? many telephone books Cora has to stand on to kiss Scope? many times Kimmie has made me drool? (TWSS!) many entries Poobomber writes on an average Tuesday? many grandmothers ~E has? many times per week I'd like to have dinner at the Diva on a Diet's house? many times The Vegetable Assassin has been told that "a lady doesn't say such things"? many dirty (and probably wrong) ideas I've had for what Splunkerdink means? many boys Prunella Jones has made cry? many photos by 180/360 that have made me want to beat up my camera? many of The Imaginary Reviewer's subjects I wish were real? many stories recounted by Mr. London Street that I have passed off as my own in order to look cool? many people I will shortly realize I have forgotten?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More People Who Steal My Good Ideas

Ben & Jerry's, purveyors of the best ice cream on the planet, are holding a contest to invent their next flavor. This news reminded me of a time when I thought that Ben & Jerry represented all that could be great about corporate America. A time when I entered a similar contest with high hopes. A time before they totally cornholed me.

Several years ago, Ben & Jerry's held a contest to invent a new holiday ice cream flavor. I'm always up for a creative challenge, especially one I get to eat. I submitted what I thought...nay, what I knew was a superb flavor. Brown sugar cinnamon ice cream with tiny gingerbread men and a caramel swirl. I dubbed it Gingerbread Man. Time passed, and a winner (not me) was declared. The inferior flavor that tasted victory has been lost to the mists of time, but it wasn't as good as Gingerbread Man. And that's not just my opinion. Do you know who else thought so? Ben & Jerry.

That's right. The next Christmas season, Ben & Jerry introduced a new holiday flavor. They called it Festivus, after the fictional holiday created by Frank Costanza on Seinfeld. "What kind of ice cream was Festivus?", I can hear you asking. Festivus, dear reader, was brown sugar cinnamon ice cream with gingerbread pieces and a ginger caramel swirl. They used gingerbread pieces instead of gingerbread men and added ginger to the caramel swirl. That makes it totally different, right? I actually wrote them to complain, but never heard back. I'm not sure, but I think that might have had something to do with the slightly irritated tone of my letter:

Dear Thieving Pigfuckers,

I was dismayed to see that your new flavor Festivus bears a striking similarity to a flavor I submitted last year for your holiday flavor contest. Festivus is, with two minor changes, the exact same flavor I submitted as Gingerbread Man. I thought that Ben & Jerry's was a shining beacon for those who thought you could make a lot of money and still be a good corporate citizen. Now I see that you are just one more group of baby-eating wraiths that enjoy wearing heavy cloaks and masturbating to organ music.

Please send coupons for free ice cream.

Yours in Christ,
Words Words Words

Too much?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Brain On Drugs

Dream posts are sweeping Blogworld even faster than Baby Fishmouth is sweeping the nation. I frequently have elaborate, epic dreams right before I wake up and this one was no exception. Allow me to offer up one of my strangest dreams for public consumption and ridicule...

I was in college, and the college looked like this giant medieval castle, almost like Hogwarts from Harry Potter. I was attending a huge pep rally or celebration at night on a big field at the college. Thousands of people, brightly lit, electric atmosphere. I was with this girl who is an amalgam of a lot of women I've been attracted to. A girl-next-door brunette that kind of looked like Kelly Clarkson. There were cheerleaders performing on the field at this event, and one of them, a cherubic blonde, had trouble keeping her bloomers on. When they did somersaults, her lady parts were on full display. No, I have no idea what this means, but faux Kelly Clarkson and I giggled about it.

Suddenly we were back in what I guess was my dorm room, and we were making out. (Ohhhh yeah.) It was hot, but it was also very sweet, and definitely PG rated. Then her underwear and bra came off, and I guess my brain was embarrassed, because I got up to leave. She grabbed my foot and pulled me back on the bed and said "Let's get out of here." We walked to some crumbling building in a bad part of town and found ourselves on the roof. The roof of this building was grass and dirt, like a park. We laid down on one of the grassy parts and we had gifts for each other. By some coincidence, we had the same gift for each other...identical expensive boxes of chocolate. Because they were exactly the same, we each kept the one we had brought for the other. We made out a little more and then got up to leave. I kissed her goodbye, because for some reason even though it was a bad neighborhood and we were both headed back to the college, we were leaving separately.

I exited the building and encountered some guys that looked like gangbangers. I tried to sneak past them, but they started walking along with me. As it turns out, they were really friendly guys and we talked for a minute before their path went a different way. When I got home, I sat on the bed alone, staring out the window and eating chocolates. They were the most delicious food I'd ever eaten in my life.

At this point I woke up, and for once I didn't wake up until the dream had come to a natural conclusion. When I realized it was a dream I missed that girl desperately, even though she didn't even exist. It was sweet and romantic and epic. And a complete mystery.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An Inspirational Thought

I don't often wax inspirational, but I thought of something simple we can all do to improve the world around us. I urge you to join me.

I plan to watch a few episodes of MacGyver and then contaminate the world's supplies of vodka and Red Bull with chemicals that when mixed, synthesize a deadly poison. I'm sure that simply poisoning Red Bull would achieve nearly the same desired effect. But it wouldn't be quite as diabolical, and thus not as fun.

Drink up, D-bags. Your uppance is coming.

Stop sitting around being part of the problem. Be part of the solution. Won't you join me?

Monday, May 11, 2009

TV Networks Are Stealing My Brain

First of all, despite what I am about to tell you, I am not crazy. I am convinced that there is a chip implanted in my brain that relays all my thoughts to executives at the TV networks. First there was the episode of South Park that was identical to one I'd written. Now this.

I've lived alone for almost two years, but before that I had a roommate for a long time. As roommates who are also friends tend to do, we had a million inside jokes that cracked us up but would have left others scratching their heads. She went through a period where she ate ridiculous and unhealthy things, and one night announced plans to eat chocolate pudding for dinner. I am not making this up. I tried to talk her out of it, but my convincing and lawyerly arguments were falling on deaf ears. To be fair, most of my argument consisted of me yelling "What? Get the fuck out of here!" But to be more fair, that should have been enough.

Finally, she'd had it and said, "Enough! I'm going to eat the aforementioned pudding and you can't stop me!" We both thought that was about the funniest thing we'd ever heard and started laughing. "The aforementioned pudding" became one of our inside jokes. For years, it was used any time we wanted to refer to something from the past, whether it was pudding-related or not. We also thought it sounded like a good indie band name or Agatha Christie novel. "The aforementioned pudding" was one of those phrases I love because you are sure it has never been uttered by humankind before in all of recorded history. That's part of why it was so funny to us.

Then THIS happened. I was watching TV and one of those Hulu commercials came on, this one starring Denis Leary. He made mention of TV turning people's brains to pudding, and then near the end of the commercial referred to "the aforementioned pudding". Had I been sitting in a chair instead of lounging horizontally, I would likely have fallen off. I immediately texted my friend. "SOMEBODY ON TV JUST SAID 'THE AFOREMENTIONED PUDDING'!" She shot back "SHUT UP!" and immediately consulted YouTube to confirm.

Clearly, TV networks are stealing my brain. And more importantly, not compensating me appropriately. Behold the evidence:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Actual Conversations With Real People, Vol. 6

Today's Actual Conversation is a email conversation. The participants are myself and a tech support representative from Roxio, which is now my most hated of all companies. To set the stage, I am writing about their Back On Track 3 software, which is meant to back up your hard drive in case it crashes. Enjoy!

I am having trouble creating a Disaster Recovery backup with Back On Track 3. When I begin the Disaster Recovery backup, the program begins to work, and then freezes up partway through. Not only does the program stop working, but my entire computer locks up and I have to restart. I am running Windows XP Home and I am selecting my external HDD as the destination drive. Do you have any suggestions? I am at my wit's end.

Thank you for contacting Roxio Technical Support. You will not be able to use a [sic] external drive. You will need to use the computer harddrive [sic] for the destination drive.

Regards, Roxio Technical Support

I'm sorry, but I don't understand your answer. I think I must be missing something. If I use the computer's hard drive as the destination drive, I am simply backing it up to does that protect me from disk failure?

Right now this product is useless to me and I am very frustrated. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for contacting Roxio Technical Support.

Issue: How to backup your files using Easy Media Creator 10

Resolution: (Describes laborious procedure that is completely unrelated to my issue.)

I'm sorry, but I have Back On Track 3, not Easy Media Creator 10. I also am not trying to do a routine backup, I am trying to create a Disaster Recovery file. I sense however that this is not in the cards because you don't have a pre-written script that fits my particular problem. Instead, I shall be requesting a prompt refund.


Ed. Note: I found out later through internet sleuthing that Roxio has halted sales of Back On Track 3 in light of a scathing review by PC Magazine that discovered the software is riddled with bugs.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The G-Chat Diaries, Vol. 5

Today on The G-Chat Diaries, we have an historic first...the addition of Chatter Y! Enjoy our inanity.

WWW: Simple Minds takes me back to high school more than any band.

Chatter X: Why do they do that?

WWW: Because of their John Hughes thing I think.

Chatter X: Don't they know you're not in high school anymore?

WWW: Yes, but they also know I cheated on my math final.

Chatter X: Well, it's nice of them to come all the way from Scotland to take you back to school.

WWW: Well, they were coming to visit Chrissie Hynde anyway.

Chatter X: They're divorced!

WWW: They are? Hey, Depeche Mode is playing the one song of theirs I actually like.

Chatter X: Personal Jesus?

WWW: YES. How did you know?

Chatter X: That's everyone's "only song by Depeche Mode I like"

Chatter X: They've been divorced for a long time. Oh, you can invite Chatter Y back.


Chatter Y: Well that sucked.

WWW: Like anyone else even knows they were married.

Chatter X: Everyone knows they were married.

Chatter Y: Who were married?

Chatter X: Okay, we'll see if you know. Chrissie Hynde and...

Chatter Y: I have absolutely no idea who Chrissie Hynde is married to or was married to. Nor do I even know who the hell Chrissie Hynde is. Though I think she is in the music business and you now will laugh at me for not knowing.

Chatter X: HA HA HA

WWW: HAHAHAHAHA. She's Googling it!

Chatter X: I'm laughing so hard I'm choking. I just loved the way you stated that.

WWW: And how you knew we would point and laugh.

Chatter X: Like you're so ashamed and angry that you don't know something that you think you should know.

Chatter Y: She's some sort of rocker chick I think.

Chatter X: Chrissie Hynde is the lead singer from The Pretenders.

Chatter Y: Yep, see?

WWW: I guess that's a no on who she was married to then?

Chatter X: And she was married to the dude from Simple Minds.

Chatter Y: I had no idea.

Chatter X: You're so lucky I'm not a hipster asshole.

Chatter Y: No shit.

WWW: I am.

Chatter Y: I used to pretend I knew shit with people, now I'm just honest. They can kiss my ass.

Chatter X: Oh, that reminds me. I found a new blog today.

Chatter Y: Hahahaha. I love the title.

Chatter X: Me too. It's kind of like Fuck You Penguin, only for hipsters and with not as many words. And probably not as funny. WWW and I were talking about starting a blog in the vein of FUP...Fuck You, Illegal Alien. Or maybe Fuck You, Immigrant.

Chatter Y: Hahahahaha. That would be so inflammatory.

Chatter X: But then my mind went blank. I couldn't think of any funny entries.

WWW: Yeah, I had to do all the work.

Chatter X: Of course he came up with something funny right off the bat.

WWW: As usual.

Chatter Y: I just wish I had thought of FUP first. I kicked myself when I saw it.

Chatter X: I's so simple.

Chatter Y: So easy. So brilliant.

Chatter X: Like, why didn't i invent the Snuggie? I kick myself every day over that.

WWW: That's how I felt when I saw the Imaginary Reviewer. Because I wanted to do reviews of mundane things like doorknobs and gravity. It's not the same, but it's close enough. And he's too good at it.

Chatter Y: I know - and you know those guys who sell that thing DIDN'T EVEN INVENT IT...The Slanket and others were first.

WWW: The Slanket sounds dirty.

Chatter X: Well, Slanket is just an awful name. it deserves to lose its market share.

Chatter X: It sounds like a Russian prostitute.

WWW: "Did you see his new girlfriend? She is a total dirty slanket."

Chatter X: Svetlana the Slanket.

Chatter Y: It totally sounds like that!

Chatter X: slut/strumpet/skank

WWW: Russian names are hot.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Seven Word Sunday: Bitter Vegetables

You'll all be very pleased, I'm sure.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

An Obvious Attempt To Post For Posting's Sake

As usual, I can't think of anything to write. So I'm doing something I rarely do...stealing a meme. Hmm, "stealing a meme" sounds like a euphemism. For what, I don't know. This meme is nicked from the delightful Girl Interrupted over at A World So Small. If you haven't read her blog, stop reading this dog and pony show and go there. Actually, finish mine first and then go to hers. I don't want to follow that. She's terribly funny and also English, so even when she's being silly she sounds classy.

Random Questionnaire Without A Title That Has Too Many Questions About Fashion For My Taste

What is your current obsession?
A band called The Hold Steady. I first discovered them last fall and now have all the albums and listen to them constantly. I get obsessive and listen to nothing but one band for weeks at a time.

What is your weirdest obsession?
Plane crashes. I'm fascinated by the idea of planes dropping out of the sky, and any time I see an article or a TV show about a plane crash, I read or watch it. I also frequently have nightmares about plane crashes.

What are you wearing today?
Well, I'm still not dressed, but you don't really want to hear about that, especially if you're still having breakfast.

What's for dinner today?
I don't think I'll be having dinner, because I plan to eat my weight in hot dogs and soft pretzels at a baseball game today.

Why is today special?
Because every day is precious, blah blah zzz.

What would you like to learn to do?
Play guitar like Jack White.

What languages can you speak?
English and enough Spanish to not be embarrassed at the sketchy taco carts or la biblioteca.

What are you listening to right now?
My upstairs neighbors, who have apparently taken up bowling.

What is your favourite weather?
That time after it snows when everything is completely quiet and still, and the sky is an unbroken sheet of slate gray. I also like crisp fall days that are chilly but not cold.

What is your most challenging goal right now?
To complete my script. I've written many TV scripts but never completed a movie script. 100 pages is hard!

What do you think about the person who tagged you?
You already read that up there at the top. But she's aces except that she doesn't like peppers of any kind. Which is completely ridiculous.

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished, anywhere in the world, where would you like it be?
I want to say Rome, but since I haven't actually been there yet I will take the safe route and say Vancouver.

What would you like to have in your hands right now?
A check for eleventy billion dollars.

What would you like to get rid of?
About 50 pounds.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
Macchu Picchu. I suspect it's the kind of place you can go for just an hour and not feel cheated. You just sit quietly and drink it in.

Which language do you want to learn?
Italian. When I do finally get to go, I want to try to confound the expectations people have for a fat, casually dressed American with a camera.

What do you look for in a friend?
I'm extremely introverted, so I value friends that won't be angry and think I don't like them anymore if we don't talk or see each other for weeks or months at a time.

Who do you want to meet in person?
Martin Scorsese, Bono, Chuck Klosterman, Brad Bird, Malcolm Gladwell, James L. Brooks, and you. Yes, you.

What's your favourite type of music?
No frills bar-band rock, blues, 60s soul, hair metal. (Shut up, I was in high school when it was popular, it's not my fault.)

What's the favourite piece of clothing in your own closet?
My well-worn pair of camoflauge cargo shorts. I discovered a tear in them last week and I was legitimately distraught.

What is your dream job?
Screenwriter or writer on a comedy sketch show. I'd love either, but I think I'd prefer screenwriter because I can live wherever I want.

Any favourite models?
When I was little I had a model of the Apollo command module and LEM. It was awesome.

If you had £100 now, what would you spend it on?
I'd go to the airport and spend it on dollars, because I can't buy shit with pounds.

Favourite designer?
Bo Welch. (He designs movies, not clothes.)

Fashion pet peeve?
Yes. Oh wait, you mean an individual one. Flared pants.

Do you admire anyone's style?
George Clooney. I think he wakes up looking like he's on his way to a cocktail party at James Bond's house.

Describe your personal style:
Comfortable. I have no dress code at work so I wear lots of jeans, hoodies and Cuban shirts. But I do think it's fun to dress up since I don't get to do it all the time. I like my tweed jacket because it makes me look smart.