Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year's Resolutions
It's not too early to start work on that list. And it is so beyond cliché to ask what you are resolving that I am emphatically not going to do so. But I will ask you about your process. When do you start thinking about what to resolve? New Year's Day itself? The week after Christmas? Do you write them down? If so, where do you keep them? Someplace where they stand as a stark reminder or some dark place that rarely sees the light of day?
I'm also not going to bother you with all that I'm resolved to but there are a couple I'll post. First - no more wasting time with web-based games. I had an entire folder of "Games" in my bookmarks and it has been dumped already. I played my last games of the "Asteroid"-style game "Belter" today as well as my last round of online "Bejeweled."
PoW will given more attention in '08 as well. It has lacked focus and posting has been sparse. I'd like to have at least something for you every day though such a thing is not always do-able. Instead, I will steal a page from the estimable Joe Sherlock's book and post on certain days on a weekly schedule. Call that a 'to-be-determined' schedule for the nonce. I also hope (not resolve) that I can make some upgrades to the blog. Adding blogads might make a couple of bucks here and there. That can't be too bad. And the template is in dire need of a new look. Call that TK (in magazine-speak a "to kum" - something to be filled in later).
I resolve to be an early riser. I don't get going these days until mid morning. I'm going to start getting up at 6am so I can have the paper read and breakfast finished by 9am in nought eight.
And no more fast food. I will be cooking more from the basic ingredients. This will allow me to do even more food blogging as well so we all win (he says tongue in cheek).
Happy New Year to ye. I hope it's your Best. Year. Evar.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tasty
One last recipe post for '07. I haven't tried any variation on this so I can in no way claim it as my own so I have to pass along the credit to "the folks at Butterball" as the the source (from a Scripps Howard piece in my local paper).
New England Cran-Maple Chutney
1 bag (12 oz) of cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup (2.5 oz) chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 table spoon honey Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil on medium heat, stirring frequently.
Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 1o to 15 minutes or until cranberries begin to pop and mixture thickens. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours to chill and allow flavors to blend.
This may have come from the turkey pimps at Butterball but I think this would work just exceedingly well with big slabs of ham, lamb chops or roast lamb. I don't quite see eating it with roast beef since that takes nothing more than a good Dijon-style mustard to be perfect. But I suppose you could, if you wanted to.
I think the recipe might be improved if you used a Vidalia type (sweeter) onion and chopped it a bit larger. It would give a nice snap to the texture.
A Little Late
But quite enjoyable nonetheless.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

There's Got To Be A Morning After
December 26 and I start with a call-out to a disaster movie. Ignore that. I haven't had any coffee yet. Christmas proper is over even if "the season" lasts through new year's day. And should I capitalize New Year's Day? Just a little window on things that trouble me.
In any event, I hope Christmas for you was great. Of course I hope you got the gifties you sought but more than that I hope you had moments of joy in the midst of all the hubbub and brouhaha. I had a pleasant lunch with a friend and his parents at a retirement community no too far away. The food was not bad. Not exactly overwhelming but good for institutionally produced grub. And then we sat and talked. We ended up talking about cloning and abortion. Not exclusively of course but those topics seemed to lead. The talk will probably lead to a blog post before long.
My wish for you today is for calmness, relaxation and rest. Nothing about an upside-down cruise ship.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

So This Is Christmas
I have neglected, to this point, to wish you all a very merry Christmas but that does not mean the wish has not been in my heart for you. I have worked toward the outward expressions of Christmas this year perhaps hoping to make Pascal's wager to hold on a smaller level. I'm not sure it has fully worked.
I am enjoying this Christmas a bit more than last but not as much as I know I can. I will work in the new year to bring myself to a higher level of health which will allow me to better enjoy the season - decorate more, do something new like bake Christmas cookies. How sad is that? I don't recall the last time I made Christmas cookies. Somewhere I have a recipe for hermits (I have no idea how that name attaches to cookies) which are devastatingly good. Next year, baby, next year!
Today I made a batch of "New England Maple-Cran Chutney" which is rather good. Much more chutney than cranberry sauce despite having more sweet in it than in my cranberry sauce. I'll post the recipe after I've done another couple of batches. It has crystallized ginger in it. And I like it. Are you surprised?

So this is Christmas. May your day be filled with fun, family, gifts and grub. My wish for you is joy and enjoyment, blessings, cheer, full bellies and long, warm naps.

And I hope yule log onto Pugs of War in the new year.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Brief Meditation On The Use Of Knives
Kitchen knives that is. If you want advice on edged-weapon combat, you'll have to go elsewhere. This is occasioned by my latest batch of dumplings last night when I was chopping kim chi. Previously I had used my santoku knife to do the chopping and it was unsatisfactory. My santoku (from the Cuisinart set I have blogged long ago about buying from Amazon) is a very light knife. A large blade but not a heavy blade. The nappa cabbage kim chi is a pretty fibrous sort of vegetable and it took a lot of pressing to chop it with the santoku.
But I have a really lovely large-bladed stainless steel vegetable cleaver which I have tended not to use. Mistake that. I got it out for last night chopping and it was a wizard at reducing the veg to the size I wanted. The sharp heavy blade took no pressing to cut through a good pile of cabbage. And the width of the blade made taking the chopped product off the cutting board simple.
So once again the wisdom of using the right tool for the job is rammed home. Of course it helps to have the right tool. Not that you're going to find me getting a Tomato Shark any time soon.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sa-weet!
I've been meaning to post my congrats to Joe Sherlock on his acquisition of new automotivity - a Lexus LS460. Just. Gorgeous. Looks like molded raspberry syrup. As we say in the Serenity 'verse: Shiny. I hope it turns out to be everything the good gentleman from the opposite cost (and his lovely missus) expect in a vehicle. I look forward to reading its adventures on the blog in the coming months.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another Sure Sign Of The Apocalypse
The Hello Kitty AK-47.
Hmm. A title longer than the post.
Until I made that comment. Oh well.
Another perfectly reasonable observation shot to hell.
Latest Netflixing
Watched "Shrek the Third." Not bad. Technologically superior to the first two but the story was lacking. However, the ogre and dragon-donkey babies were just adorable. Overall, very cute. Definitely worth a rental if you haven't seen it. Not worth owning though.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wherein I Force A Collective Regurgitation
A woman was advertising one size of battery that she was selling after buying an imported lot that was taken by customs. In other words:
She shills C cells by the seizure.
UPDATE: I have been one-upped by a logophile friend who suggests the following (superior) wording:
She shills C cells. Buy the seizure!
Go Visit
IML8 over at the "And Another Thing...." blog has a great story up today. Go, read, clap your hand to your forehead, wish her well.
Listening To Christmas
Once again, I have had trouble getting myself in the Christmas mood. I do believe it's better this year than last what with the smell of the tree in the house and the noble intention to get cards out the door today.
And my ECB has sent me a wonderful gift:
La Répertoire de La Cuisine by Louis Saulnier. I will be digging into this petite treasure in the new year. Thanks Paul!
Of course I have to gripe before I get to the reason for the post. A couple of years ago, (maybe a few, does anyone really care?) I bought a set of battery-powered LED lights which I considered to be for the wreath. This year, I put the batteries in and powered it up and only four of the bulbs burned at a decent level of brightness. I thought LEDs were marked by their ability to last for donkey's years.Wazzup wid dis? So now I have to find a new set which may or may not be easy. On the other hand, the technology of small LED light strings has probably improved so that they're running off AA batteries instead of C cells. Oh well...
So we get to the point of my post, the nub of my gist, the (crunch!) chocolaty center of my Tootsie Pop. If there's any one thing I did to make this season seem more festive, more Christmas-y, it is to have made an iTunes mix of all my Christmas music and set it to shuffle. I have nearly seven hours of music in the mix and I can listen for a couple of hours to songs I love (the new Trans-Siberian Orchestra disc is really good) and let the spirit creep into me even if my tattered soul wants to resist. I hope y'all have something similar. It's a good thing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wherein I Watch Television I Normally Don't
I had the misfortune to watch about ten minutes of the ABC home-makeover-cum-queen-for-a -day show that's broadcast on Sunday night. What a wretched excrescence on the face of humanity. First the faux concern for the wounded people who seek the prize of a quickly (and we hope not shoddily) constructed home. Hollywood is never more false than when people whose reason for being is screen time pretend to care for those among us who have suffered tragedy. Awful, awful people.
And then the "design" of rooms. I don't recall seeing any more narcissistic exercise on television since watching Bob Villa on "This Old House."
Horrible, awful people. The only reason I can fathom for this show to stay on the air is that people who have suffered the slings and arrows are getting new homes. And that I don't disparage.
Mixed Emotions
The old joke about the definition of mixed emotions is watching your mother-in-law go over a cliff in your new Mercedes. Here is an update on that. My tears for the loss of such magnificent autofleisch are lost in my you-rich-sonuvabitch laughter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In Light Of The Ice Storms
It's an old joke fable but its' worth repeating:
Late one autumn a songbird decided it was tired of migrating and thought it would just hang around over the winter to see what it had been missing. Well, it soon found out that what it had been missing was intense cold and lack of tasty insects. So, as an ice storm began to blow in, the songbird figured better late than never and flew off toward the south. But the storm was just too much and in no time at all, the songbird's wings began to get coated with ice and he fell out of the sky, a itty bitty ball of ice as the storm abated.
But as it turned out, the songbird fell into a cow pasture and a cold, cold cow ambled over and dropped a massive pattie right onto the bird. Greatly relieved at not being frozen anymore, the songbird began trilling a song of relief. At which point, the local cat heard him, stalked over, pulled him out of the cowpat and, wiping carefully, consumed him with undisguised pleasure.
This is, of course, a fable so it has to have a moral. Actually it has two. First, just because somebody poos on you doesn't mean he's your enemy. And secondly, just because somebody pulls you out of the poo doesn't mean he's your friend.
Fuzzy And Muzzy
Expect no blogging here today folks. I had one of those night where I just could nt reach sleep. Out of the whole night I probably got three, perhaps fours in a couple of fits and starts. It was so bad that I watched some of the Affleck's movie "Paycheck" which is one of the few things I can think of that is worse than not sleeping.
I hope you have a good today. I'll be lucky to make it through the day's sudoku with brain cells still sparking. Bugger.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Unfortunate
My attention was just called to, and I so wish I'd realized this myself, that Brangelina's child Shiloh Pitt's name is subject to a really, really bad spoonerism. Don't make me write it out!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Differentiation
I was thinking about the Democratic front runners and realized that were one to win, it would be an Obama-nation. If the other were to win it would be an abomination.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Since I Mentioned It...

A Christmas Gift From Jake
The superbly talented Jake Armerding has a section of his website called "Bootlegs." Freely downloadable mp3 files of several songs, mostly his own. But he has put up an instrumental version of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" that is quite lovely. A great addition to your seasonal music collection. And at the right price.
Thanks, man. May you get whatsoever you want for Christmas especially since you serve up a gift to us.
Why Does This Make Me Think Of Michael Vick?
If you have a battle dog, or a dog that's really, really into Ren Faires, I think you need to invest in dog armor. And please no one tell Gradual Dazzle that they're making skwerl armor too! Evil needs no help.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christmas Dog
I'm working on a new dog breed for Christmas. It's a cross between a setter and a pointer and it'll be called a "pointsetta."
The Christmas Thing Starts Again
Yesterday I acquired my little table-top tree and a wreath. Today, as the snow falls, I will lay the wreath out on the table and add the big red bow and the clever battery-powered LED lights. The table for the tree will be cleared and the leaves and scruff which the tree accumulated out in nature will be picked out. Then, after going out into the snow (snow! in December!), I'll do a couple rounds of cranberry sauce tests and gather the Christmas cards out of their hidey hole.
I have been quite slack in the card sending of late but I have a stack of delightfully retro cards which I'll be chewing through this year even if I do nought but sign my name and say "God bless." Really, more is not required. I hope your proto-Christmas is developing well.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Again With The Finarglin' Cranberry Sauce?
Yep. More experimentation. Having killed my orange-flavored brandy-ish stuff on my last batch, I went to the alky store today to purchase Grand Mariner, Cointreau and Triple Sec. A batch will be made with each to see if there is any appreciable difference. I'm hoping there won't be since Triple Sec costs about an eighth of the 'spensive stuff. I'll not be posting results however as I'm making batches of the stuff to give at Christmas and I want everyone to assume that they got the good stuff. But join me later for a snifter of Cointreau, or Grand Mariner....
"Tin Man" Again
I was planning to get more into the ideas animating the story this time around but I find I'm growing against the show as it goes on. In point of fact, last night as I watched part the second, I was so tired that I fell asleep while watching. I'm definitely going to watch it tonight when part two is broadcast again though. I want to like it. It's just getting more difficult.
sigh

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Very Brief List Of Some Things I Love
The last minute of Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick"
The jalapeno corn chips at Trader Joe's
Brown-eyed blondes and green-eyed brunettes
The delicious bite of gingerroot
Apple computers
Paul Reed Smith guitars
The curious synergy and differences between Japanese and Chinese aesthetics
Caller ID
There will be more. Please feel free to add things you love in the comments.

Info Bleg
I came upon this indoor/outdoor smoker on the 'Zon today and am highly intrigued. But I'd like to know if anyone has any experience with it or something similar. Smoking things is a very good thing in the Martha Stewart place of my foodie-ness but does this thing actually work? The price and free shipping is not bad.
Drop me a comment, please.
"Tin Man"
I watched the first episode of Sci-Fi channel's new mini series "Tin Man" last night. If you're not a Sci-Fi watcher, it's a re-imagining of "The Wizard of Oz" that's more "Zardoz" than Judy Garland. In brief - I liked it. Sci-Fi does a remarkably good job in original production for a basic cable channel. But I want to go into detail on this show if it doesn't bore anyone. And in that regard, I want to consider the casting.
First, Zooey Deschanel as Dorothy, or in a change that's just a bit too precious her character is called "DG." I suppose they had to make a change of some kind but "DG" just doesn't flow. I've known several people who go by 'DJ" and those initials do feel easy on the tongue. "DG" on the other hand, just doesn't work. But that's minor, really. I loved Ms. Deschanel in "Hitchhiker's Guide..." but I am not enamored of her here. She has no presence. She's supposed to be all spunky and whatnot but her character doesn't act consistently. She's shown wading into fights where she'd be at enormous risk with a stick in her hand yet she doesn't fight back when, for example, the flying monkeys come after her.
And yet I don't want to be too negative about her. As I watched the show, I kept trying to think of actresses I'd prefer to see in her place and no one in particular came to mind. So I may just accept the casting decision of the producers and leave it at that. If any reader can suggest alternate casting, please leave a comment. It doesn't help that Kathleen Robertson who plays the evil Azkedellia (the wicked witch character) is a drop-dead gorgeous brunette. And she plays the evil lead just fantastically like a black snake: glossy, beautiful and pure menace. I hope, speaking strictly in my "guy" mode, that we get to see a lot of her work in the future. And she plays her part better than the female lead.
Neal McDonough plays, strangely, the title character. He is discovered in a very steampunk-y (in fact, the production design is very steampunk which is just fine by me) metal "box" where he has been forced to watch a holographic loop on his "arrest" and the torture of his family by Azkedellia's "Longcoats" (the Winkies of the original movie) for many years. He was a policeman (a badge-carrying "tin man") who was part of the resistance against the evil regime and his punishment was the box from which he is rescued by DG and the scarecrow character (called "Glitch" here). McDonough is perfectly cast. He is angry, with a strong dose of capable menace. He is utterly believable in a fantasy which says something about his acting ability. I don't think it was made explicit but I take his "no heart" as having his family, those he loves, torn away from him.
Glitch is played by Alan Cumming who in real life is just too gay for me. I don't care if someone is gay but don't shove it in my face, please (oh, unfortunate metaphor!). He's like Andy Dick without the full-on insane behavior. His character's "lack of a brain" is due to Azkedellia who physically removed a good portion of it and left a zipper in his head. He had been an adviser to the previous queen (and Azkedellia's mother) and his intelligence must have represented a threat so ... no brain. My complaint about the actor aside, he plays his part very well. As he usually does. He may annoy me but he's a very good actor.
And the "cowardly lion" is called "Raw" (a bit clever that) and played by Raoul Trujillo who was last seen as "Zero Wolf" in "Apocalypto." That's a switch. The makeup is excellent and he does as good a job as can be expected swathed in a man/lion suit. I can't fault this casting at all.
Finally, for today, Richard Dreyfuss plays the "Wizard" character who is here called the Mystic Man. No one can doubt his acting chops after having seen him in what seems like a couple of hundred roles since he broke into the biz. And his greying gravitas makes his character come across extremely well. He's not "the great and powerful OZ" in the least. He's a stage magician and has been addicted to a drug by Azkedellia since he had been the source of opposition to her in the past. Shaking that off to help DG and pals is the main action of his role in the first night. I expect that we'll see more of him upcoming which would be good.

It's not perfect but this is another strong entry in Sci-Fi channel's lineup. When they bring back the Battlestar, I'll be happier still.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

OMFG!
There are things that I want on my next new car (iPod integration, an automatic rear lift gate would be nice) but never in my life have I wanted anything on a new car more than a disappearing door. Gimme.
Gimme gimme gimme!
Oy Gestalt!
At some point in the past I've made mention of getting begging letters that include return address labels in a futile attempt to guilt me into coughing up some dough. Not gonna happen. In this regard I am 100% guilt-proof. The latest effort was by the US Olympic Committee. In adding the latest sheets to my expanding collection, I wondered how many labels I had. And the idea of counting them was daunting. Plus time consuming. I don't mind wasting time but not this way, surely.
So I figured I'd weigh the sheets. Keep in mind that what I was weighing was exclusive of the Christmas themed labels that some send. 7.8 ounces. Just a whisker shy of half a pound of address labels. I will either die or move before I ever get through that many li'l stickers. Betting on those options opens at even money.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

And So It Begins - Again
After posting about Christmas music, I went into my iTunes and re-activated my Christmas playlist which is shut off as of the end of December as a matter of principle. And I've had my first song shuffle up: John Fahey's "Medley: Deck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly-We Wish You A Merry Christmas" from his "Popular Songs of Christmas and New Year's" disc. It is, in reality a bit early to hear it but it's a gorgeous guitar solo. Wonderful. His loss was a significant one for folk music.
Also, if you've never heard Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas," you're missing something. It's a great contemporary Christmas song. It was used to good effect in the movie "Love Actually." I usually detest Ms. Carey as a waste of considerable talent but the song is wonderful.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Recent Netflixery
Oh how it pains me to admit the depth of my shallowness some times. To wit, the last two movies I rented were "Next," the Nicolas Cage fantasy adventure and the Transformers movie. Let me deal with the former first. Actually better than I expected. Nic Cage is nothing -ever- but Nic Cage but he makes passing fair action adventure movies so I took a chance. If you have an hour and a half to spare and haven't seen it, you could do worse. Skip the extras though. Total waste of synaptic electrons. I have one serious beef. At one point Cage tells the old joke about the Zen Master at the hot dog stand ("make me one with everything"). And he utterly screws the pooch on it: "I'll have one with everything." That ... makes ... no ... sense!
Let me preface my remarks about "Transformers" by saying that I hate Michael Bay. "Armageddon" was the biggest colonic product I have seen in forever. Massive poopage. And I like just about all the actors in that show. As much as I love Kate Beckinsale, I couldn't even bring myself to watch "Pearl Harbor" because of my antipathy to the Bay person. But Lileks posted a brief rave about the robot movie and I am in an action adventure mood so, all right already. Damn. I could not have enjoyed it more. Thank goodness I have the new speakers with the subwoofer! Loud and thumping (a problem in "Armageddon") was just what the non-stop slam-bang of this flick needed. It could easily lose fifteen minutes of Shia LaBeouf's family, Anthony Anderson and his family but once this ramps up, it just doesn't stop. The robot transformations are nothing short of amazing but they're actually too complex. The fights are massive but, again, too complex. There's to much debris flying around to make sense of what's going on. It's the opening space battle from the last and most craptacular of the Star Wars movies all over again. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
But then there are FX shots like two massive robots crashing through a building shown from the outside of the structure with offices full of scurrying people in full view. That was a 'wow' shot no question.
So as much as I hate myself for saying this, I loved "Transformers." And I resent that. I still hate Michael Bay though. I can't let that go.
Pre-Christmas Bleg
As I have noted in the past, every year I add one CD of Christmas music to my collection. Last year I finally got the great Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas disc. But this year I'm out of ideas. I only have one CD each from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller so there are great possibilities there. But perhaps readers could make suggestions in comments that might direct me to something unusual and excellent. Don't worry about suggesting anything Christmas-y from John Fahey. I have all his holiday albums already.
UPDATE: Thanks for the suggestions. I took advantage of the rift in space time to add Tom Waits to my collection. Not the song - Tom Waits himself. I altered history so that slavery was never outlawed and made sure that my family owned his family. If you think slavery is outlawed, please wait for the ripples in the continuum to work their way through the universe.
OK, kidding aside, I bought the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "The Lost Christmas Eve." But I'm keeping my notes of the suggestions for next year. I also added a couple of Jethro Tull CDs to my collection so as to qualify for free shipping. Gotta love free shipping.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Best Use Of A Christmas Carol In Advertising
Goes to Garmin for its use of "Carol of the Bells:" give a, give a, give a, give a, give a Garmin. Nicely done.
And the embed that surely condemns me to perdition:

The Foxborough Juggernaut
Earlier on the blog I made a comment on the risible attempt by the Washington Redskins to take on the New England Patriots. After laughing my way through that game, I've been trying to make it a point to watch the Pats play this year since this team will go down in Niffle history as one of the greatest teams ever. Tom Brady will be spoken of with Elway-like reverence when he is finished winning Super Bowls.
Which means I have to say that last night's Eagles-Patriots game rather surprised me. The Pats' mere three-point win was as shocking as the confident, muscular play of the Iggles. I was of the opinion that having gotten past the Colts earlier, New England was ready to roll through the rest of their schedule. But I forget sometimes that there are games that sneak up on a team. The Eagles had every reason to be sky-high for the game having just taken a game flat away from the Redskins (that sound you hear is my distant laughter) and really, nothing to lose in laying every drop of testosterone and every cc of steroids on the line for the game. And they did a helluva job. The Patriots, on the other hand, really had no reason to be jacked up for the game. They have been just crushing opponents and the Eagles haven't shown themselves to be terribly fearsome competition.
The fact that the Pats didn't let a game slip that easily could have been stolen from them shows just what a gutty team they are. I think once Tom Brady realized that the game was at risk, there was no way he was going to let it go.
And, I think, therein lies the story of the New England Patriots this year. Any team that goes up against them had better be prepared to bring it hard. Because the Pats and their almost pathologically truculent coach are setting out to make this team a team that will be talked about with awe in the history of the game. They've won Super Bowls; that's not a goal to energize a championship team, strange to say. But to go undefeated, to set scoring records by multiple dozens of points (possibly even a hundred give or take), to set touchdown records for Brady and possibly for Randy Moss as well - now there's something to make the team leap onto the gridiron and batter their opponents into submission.
They only scored 31 points against the Eagles. Expect scores in the 50s against any team that can't gut it up like Philly did. Let's see if other teams can raise their level to meet the Pats because the Pats are not about to play down their opponents. They may go undefeated into the next season if injuries to key players don't take them down. It's beautiful and almost scary to watch.
And by the way, Red Sox win the World Series, Pats look to run away with the NFL crown and the Celtics have put together the best team they've had in years. Boston should be a happy, happy sports town these days.
Late Thoughts On Cranberry Sauce
Having not made a test batch of maple syrup sweetened cranberry sauce - Hey, I made five different variations on the recipe with one of those being a double batch - I will say first that I am well pleased with my recipe. Secondly, the orange blossom honey variation is better than the sugar-sweetened type. But I don't think it's necessary to use a scant cup as I did. 3/4 of a cup, an equal measure of the sugar in the original, is all that's needed. However, I once again add that the better the quality of orange blossom honey you can find, the better it will work with the sauce.
On Saturday night I had dinner with friends who served a ham and I'm not being modest in telling you that the cranberry sauce works as well with ham as it does with turkey.
My one note on the cranberries themselves is that the Ocean Spray bags that are sold in supermarkets everywhere are great to use. I wash them and pick over the berries as I don't want to use mushy, going-bad berries in the sauce. I only had to toss about 8 berries per bag.
Finally, as Christmas nears, I am going to make a batch with maple syrup and I will post a note on how it turns out. And it's likely that with that batch I'll use up the orange flavored sorta-brandy so next year's change will be the use of Cointreau, as I noted below. As is my wont, I'll post about that when the time rolls around.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Cranberry Sauce Post
I have always loved cranberry sauce. My late mother made an uncooked cranberry sauce that was, in essence, raw cranberries, honey, orange juice and orange peel all blitzed together in a blender. One of the beauties of her sauce was that you could adjust the ingredients on the fly. Too tart? Add more honey. Soften the cranberry flavor? Add more OJ. I like it a lot. But I like a more jell-ified sauce even better.
Heck, I even like the tradition ridged cylinder of canned cranberry "sauce" but that doesn't mean I'd actually like to have it on my table. But don't let my culinary elitism deter you if you want to slice a disc of that to put beside your slice of turkey.
With all as prelude, this year I decided that I wanted to make "my" cranberry sauce. And, as is my wont these intarwebnet days, I first went to epicurious.com and searched on (you can see it coming, right?) "cranberry sauce." And what came up almost first in line was Cranberry Sauce with Port and Tangerine. Here is the nub of the gist of the recipe:
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup ruby Port
3 (3- by 1/2-inch) strips tangerine zest
1/3 cup tangerine juice (from about 2 tangerines)

Bring cranberries, sugar, Port, and zest to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cranberries burst, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in juice. Cool completely.
Please do click the link though for some more information and to give the good folks at Epicurious another page view.

I made one batch of this recipe as written. And it was good. Very good. Very, very good. Port really (I mean really) works well with cranberries. But as I said, I wanted to make this my own. My first thought was, "wouldn't chopped walnuts be nice in this?" So I added a half cup just as I removed the mix from the heat. I wanted the nuts to be touched by the heat enough to be softened but still with some crunch. And I was right. It worked. worked for me at any rate.
I'm not sure that the amount of zest I use is particularly what the recipe calls for but I zest one entire tangerine. And I keep the zest pieces small as taking a spoonful of cranberry sauce with a five-inch long piece of citrus zest dragging behind is just wrong. And the zest is cooked enough that its easily edible.
For my next batch I added a half cup of an orange-flavored brandy-ish thing I was given too many years ago to count. In my first try, I added it with the tangerine juice which meant the alcohol didn't have a chance to burn off. It was good but I thought the alcohol gave it a bit of an unnecessary edge. So in future batches I added the "brandy" (orange-flavored I jump to point out again - I would not have used plain brandy) at the same time as the port. And with those changes, I have arrived at "my" cranberry sauce.
I have made another batch in which I substituted a scant cup of orange blossom honey for the sugar. It's cooling in the fridge so I can't say that it's a radical improvement but I think a really nice orange-blossom honey is a superior sweetener to cane sugar. And when I finally kill the orange fake brandy, I would probably use Cointreau instead. Cointreau is so wonderfully complex a liqueur that it might be a superior choice.
One other variation that I'll probably try, though I'm not sure it would be a superior change, is to sweeten the sauce with maple syrup instead of the sugar or the honey. It's a change that cries out for empirical testing nonetheless.
PoW Thanks You For Your Patience
Happy belated Thanksgiving to one and all. I will shortly be putting up a post about the cranberry sauce which I will now consider my "signature" cranberry sauce, although there is one variation yet to try. Let's just say that I brought a batch to friends for the turkey dinner and it was snarfed up in short order.
And good luck with your shopping.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sound Baby! Sound!
For the longest time I've been running off the built-in speakers on my iMac to play iTunes music. They're very good speakers for their size and their built-inedness. But they're not exactly earth-shaking when, say, I've tried to play someone a song while I was on the phone. I have now entered a whole new realm of sonic bliss.
I bought these Altec Lansing speakers which were on sale at good old Amazon for $25 less than they're selling for now (Gold Box deal - some real bargains there). I haven't run the puter masheen with a sub-woofer before. Oh glory! I can feel the music in my diaphragm. And the satellite speakers are compact yet crisp and clean. If they were articulate, they'd be Barack Obama.
Well, actually, you could say that they're articulate. But I'd vote for these speakers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wyzit?
I so want a tuna sub today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If You Want To See What Paul Reed Smith Is All About...

By the way, "GAS" is "Guitar Acquisition Syndrome." All PRS owners suffer from GAS.
Sketch Comedy
File this under "things I'd like to see that no one is ever going to do:" A bit that takes off on the old "Johnny Quest" cartoon with just about everything the old series had in situ but with one significant difference. "Hadji" in the original is Indian and, though it's not made explicit, I say a Sikh inasmuch as his last name is "Singh" and he wears a turban. However in my version, he's some stripe of Middle Easterner and is a committed jihadi. His entire purpose in being withe Quests is to steal technology, information and otherwise promote Jihad against the infidel.
Hilarity ensues. I think my good friend the Enigmatic Misanthrope could write a few chapters of that book....

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Promised To Be Discrete
I read the Consumerist blog regularly and, despite their anti-capitalist inclination (which explains the lack of linkage), one thing that really matters to them is customer service. And it matters to me too, even though I consider myself to be a very even-tempered and moderate customer. So when something extraordinary happens, being a blogger I want to blog it.
Something extraordinary happened but I promised that I would not reveal the specifics. Let me see if I can figure out a way to explain without providing any identifying details....
I have been patronizing a local business for a number of years. Said business has a timing restriction at times due to huge demand. Orders have to be in by a specific date in order to have the service performed in a timely fashion. This year I was blithely going along and not thinking of deadlines and the advancing of the calendar. When I shook off the unconsciousness, I found that I was two days past the deadline for orders. Drat, Hosed myself. But I have great affection for the business and the proprietors so I dropped an e-mail saying, "My mistake- sorry to have missed the timing, hope your busy season doesn't swamp you, best, Me." And much to my delight, I got a return e-mail saying, "We expected you to order and have you down for a few units anyway. How many do you want?"
Wow. I was down for three and asked if I could get five. And I could. There are good, no, great folks in the wider world and finding how great they are can be a real blessing.
And do not ask me for the business because I gave my word that I would not admit that the rules were bent. They can't do that for everyone.

Friday, November 09, 2007

LOLbug #3

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Almost Live From The Snack Shack
Oof-ah! I am stuffed (stuffed! I tell you) with steamed dumplings. I made a new batch and must report on a couple of tweaks to the recipe (which I have never posted here mwah-haha!) which worked rather well if I do say so myself. First, I left the shiitake mushrooms out because they have a somewhat delicate flavor that I didn't expect to come through in htis mix. Then, instead of using blanched bok choy, I chopped up about a cup and a half of napa cabbage kim chi. I love kim chi. I've even had tofu and kim chi for breakfast. And loved it.
Finally, I had to address a problem I've had with my dumplings. When they steamed, the meat filling would shrink leaving the cooked dumpling a sort of baggy sack. Tasty but not a nice, plump dumple. The fix turns out to be very simple - egg whites. One egg white per batch. I suppose you could use two egg whites. I may try that next time.
The result: in a word - superb. Best dumplings I've yet made. My dinner was a heaping plate of dumplings dipped in sauce of sesame oil, soy sauce and Chinese black vinegar. I need to resupply my rice wine vinegar and get some mirin too.
Tomorrow there will be ginger custard made. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Latest Netflixing
I've just dropped "Spider-Man 3" in the mail to return to the warm bosom of the secret Netflix "processing facility" nearest me. Stick a fork in the franchise. It's done. I have nothing against Tobey Maguire save for the fact that he looks sort of younger and goofier in this flick than in the previous iterations. Not too fond of Topher Grace. But it's Kirsten Dunst who really lights up the screen. Like a flaming bag of poo lights up a door on Halloween night.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Guilty Pleasures
C'mon ... fess up.
I'll start. This is actually about TV guilty pleasures. I am loathe to admit the joy I take in watching "Scrubs." But I sure do. It is unredeemedly stupid and Zach Braff's character acts in such a way that no even approaching normal human being would. But it is still laugh-out-loud funny. Dr. Cox's rants, the occasional instances of decent human behavior, the absurdities, the relationship of Turk and Carla. It's a much better show than i want to admit. And Sarah Chalke can look stunning at times - knockout blonde when they tart her up. So there you have it. My guilty pleasure.
What is it you watch that you're not proud of? C'mon. Use an alias, post a reply. Let the world in on your secret shame. You'll feel better.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Jake Alert! Jake Alert!
The superbly talented Jake Armerding is going to be at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage on Sunday evening. You should be there. You'd better be there! You're really going to miss something if you're not there.
Just go dammit! Listen to me now and hear me later. If you miss his show I'll be mad at you. And you'll regret it.
He'll be in Richmond on Thursday but DC is closer.
Hollywood "Writers" Strike
Wizbang Pop has a pic of the "writers" milling around on a sidewalk in what I suppose is supposed to be one those expressions of the working man that's supposed to make the little Monopoly guy with the top hat howl as he were being violated by a sharpened MontBlanc Starwalker. Tcha! Yeah, right. Look at the signs. What's on the signs? "On Strike." How (sarcasm) original! (/sarcasm)
Yeah, you need writers like that Hollywood. Then again, if the writers really did write their signs, they'd probably be worse than "On Strike."
The Wonder Of The Intarwebnet
Yesterday afternoon I had the distinct pleasure of having lunch with a long-time friend whom I'd never met. We have been in e-mail contact for something like ten years, back to the days when I used to post on a Usenet newsgroup for a local radio show. We both have (I say with great humility and self-effacing modesty) great senses of humor and became, long ago, as fast friends as this electronic age allows.
She is a Murrliner but had reason to swing out to the wider environs of NoVa this weekend and, as luck would have it, was coming pretty much in my direction. So we had lunch at my favorite local place. And I got to meet her son who was a pleasure to have in the (nominally) adult conversation. It's actually rather nice to see the affection between mother and son expressed so easily when teenagers these days can be so sullen and anti-parental. Good kid. Speaks well of the family.
Marisa, darling, I had a great time. Love ya.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

If This Doesn't Make you Laugh...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Detail - The Grill
Aluminum foil and craft store crystals. A daub on the upper left of undried Elmers glue. The learning process continues.
Magazines Are So Specialized These Days!
The late Spikerman makes Pug of the Year. Of course it helps to have an "in" with the magazine editorial staff.
If you want to be an editorial staff, make your own magazine.
Hat tip to XMBD and the NMSE for the image.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Grillzilla!
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting this year's Dent-O-Lantern™ viewable through today in the office of the great dentist Dr. Steve LeBeau. He's so great we don't even hold the fact that he went to Notre Dame against him!

That's a fresh carve so you may see a drop of Elmers on the grill. Or is it "grille?" Ah, who cares. It's a fad that'll out last spinning rims by about a year.

I'll post a couple of detail shots tomorrow. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Blazing Pumpkin Bisque
(singing)What do you do with the pumpkin carvings, what do you do with the pumpkin carvings earl-eye in the morning?(/singing)
OK, so now you know I can't sing. But the question remains. You have ... a pumpkin. You cut it open. You scoop out the innards. You cut a picture into it. You put a candle in it. You put it on the stoop. The neighborhood kids smash it. But I digress.
I made another Dent-O-Lantern™ for my dentist this year (I'll post the pic tomorrow). And in making the D-O-Ls, I don't cut the top out of the gourd, I cut off the bottom and use the stem as the nose. So I have a fairly decent-sized chunk of pumpkin cut off the bottom. I hate to waste things. So after separating out the seeds (gonna toast 'em after giving 'em a sprink of Old Bay - mmmm), I have about two cups of raw pumpkin. And this is what I did.
Pumpkin chunks in chicken stock, boiled until soft. About half of a red bell pepper, cut into a large dice and three, count 'em, three of my Biker Billy Jalapenos. The peppers go into the pumpkin and stock and given enough heat to bring the boil back. A teaspoon of sugar, a preliminary (i.e. light) salt and ground black pepper. Hit it hard with the stick blender to make a nice, smooth soup. Hmm. Looks good. But it's not done. It would be better as a cream soup. But I have no heavy cream. But I do have some sour cream. In fact, i have about 2/3 of a cup of "lite" sour cream.
A bit more of blending and it is done. Delicious and with three of the peppers - wonderfully hot. There you go: Blazin' Pumpkin Bisque. Throwing in a nice splat of butter would be nice but not really necessary if you don't want the extra calories.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Think Back
Do you remember all those years ago when Teri Hatcher was, say, Lois on the TV show "Lois and Clark?" Or the woman with the "they're real ... and they're spectacular" sweater stretchers on "Seinfeld?" She was pretty hot.
Now, not so much.
Odds 'n' Ends
First, congratulations go out to the Beantown Boyz. It looked dicey (or should I say "Dice K" hahahahah!) there when the Harp Seal Pups notched some runs but as is the pattern in this series, it was too late and just short. I considered going back and editing my previous posts to reflect my fake prescience (change "could be over in four" to "will be over in four") but really, why bother.
I was falling over laughing at the Washington Redskins episode of fresh hell at the hands of the New England Patriots this weekend (weakened?). I admire Joe Gibbs but I hate Li'l Danny Snyder and his team of economic benefit. I heard a sportscaster refer to a "classless" fourth quarter touchdown and, I suppose, if you're a homer, it would look that way. But I don't think the Pats meant anything against the 'Skins by scoring needlessly. I think the Pats are setting out to go undefeated and set offensive records that will never be broken. Well, as much as records can "never" be broken. Brady will finish the year with a new record for touchdown passes, the team will have all sorts of new records for points scored and I would put good money that they will go undefeated barring significant injury. I guess next week will tell the tale.
And, last and least, apple cider. Friends recently brought me a gallon of freshly pressed cider. I mean freshly. As in done minutes before they came to my door. And it was a small fragment of pure delight. Heaven in a glass. So I bought some commercial cider at my local Safeway the other day. Oh momma - not even close. Not bad, mind you but not in the same league. The commercial cider was to the pressed cider as the Washington Redskins are to the New England Patriots. (See how it all ties together?)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Visualize Whirled Series
I said the Boston Guys With Clubs might take this series in four. Well, the Coloradio Harp Seal Pups (as I will forever call them now) tried to scratch back last night by closing to within a run but the Red Smacks showed them who's on first (and second, and third and then home) another four times and hammered out another big win. I think the Mile High Guys can win one but they've not shown the pitching chops to get it done. And Beckett is waiting to close this one out.
My sympathies go out to my Janqui-loving friends but I know Jake's probably pretty doggone happy right now.
The Fire This Time
My thanks to the Enigmatic Misanthrope for mentioning the new King of Peppers in his comment on my post below. It is the Bhut Jolokia which clocks in at a blistering 1 million Scoville Heat Units. That's hot baby. And, when the season comes around again, you can get the plants here. Am I going to grow them? Oh hail no. I'm concentrating on some fleshier, medium hot peppers next year and a handful of the wonderful Biker Billy jalapenos again.
Until Further Notice
The domicile which has been called "Chez BlogDog" will now go by the name "The Snack Shack." I am feeling the urge to experiment in the kitchen again and that's just downright dangerous.
Today, for example, I made "Schlong's Famous Canned Corn Casserole" with a couple of additions (about a strip and a half of bacon crumbled into the mix and two diced jalapeno peppers) and, as good as it was (and it was good), I want to change it. I'm thinking at least four peppers, a quarter teaspoon of baking powder to fluff it up and cottage cheese instead of the sour cream with maybe half the whole corn kernels.
Then there's gathering the ingredients for the perfect pear sorbet recipe and the first faltering attempts at nutmeg-persimmon sorbet. I'll let you know.
Oh, the other thing that's being flipped in my mind like Greg Louganis off a high board in a San Francisco bathhouse is an ice cream: custard-based persimmon ice cream with a swirl of reduced ruby port. It will either be magic or suck out loud. Actually, it would probably be better if I just made a port and persimmon custard and skipped the frozen bit. Anyone care to weigh in on these ideers?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Anybody Got A Cookie?
I'd really like a cookie right now. Something on the soft and chewy side. White chocloate and macadamia nut. That sounds about right.
Oreos, Milanos, oatmeal & raisin ... there are so many.
Tell me about the cookies that make you go all buttery like Elvis did for the ladies.
Da Wurld Series
I haven't paid too much attention to the beisoboru playoffs but I did watch the first game of the World Series with the Colorado Harp Seal Pups and the Boston Guys With Clubs. This could be over in four.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And One More For Good Measure
(hate)Fargin' weather this time. It's October - late October - and I put the AC on today because the temp still stays up in the low 70s (which by itself is not bad) but the humidity, due to the overcast-skies-but-not-sufficient-to-make-up-the-deficit rain, is lousy. Rain is fine if the cold weather comes behind it. It's just too damnably hot and muggy for late October.(/hate)
I promise I will not bitch about the cold weather when it comes. I promise.
30 More Seconds
(hate)Dear gahdam Blogger, when I check the box to "remember me on this computer" I actually MEAN IT! Don't make me log in every time I sign on to make a post when I have explicitly TOLD YOU not to make me do so. You are so pissing me off right now.(/hate)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

30 Seconds Hate
Things are moving faster in this work-a-day world than George Orwell ever would have thought. We don't hate the time to spare for a 20 Minutes Hate. No, we are efficient. We have it down to a zippy 30 Seconds now.
(hate)And what do I Hate for 30 Seconds? The AT&T ads were people need to use their phones in several different places the names of which they concatenate at the end into "one" place. Best argument against the iPhone is that it bundles with AT&T. (/hate)
I'm freakin' hopeless. Even when I'm venting I use words like "concatenate." Sesquipedalian SOB.
Pugs Of War, Peabody Winner
I'm proud to announce that I am the recipient of a Peabody this year. Not the Peabody award for journalism, a Mr. Peabody award for pointless, home-based time travel. The actual award is a small, Bakelite statue of his boy Sherman.
The actual time travel resulted in a really quite amusing paradox but I have to do something now so I'll post more about it earlier.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another Great Song And Video
Gary Jules cover of Tears For Fears "Mad World." It was used in the movie "Donnie Darko" which I Netflixed no too long ago. Wonderful movie. Jake Gyllenhaal can be forgiven much of his cinematic idiocy when allowance is made for "Donnie Darko." Yes, it's that good. Of course it also stars Mary McDonnell who is a continuing crush of mine. But that's neither here nor there. Here, is the song:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Simple Questions
Apart from certain requirements, such as a plain gold band when a man has been suitably altared, what constitutes acceptable jewelry for men?
Many years ago I said that if I ever found a man's opal ring, I would wear it. Well, I did and I did. I still have it. I have a ring that served as my engagement ring as well. These things sit in a box in my dresser along with such vanities as my high school ring.
I like watches. I think a chunky, high-quality expensive watch looks very masculine and when I wear other than my everyday Times Ironman watch, I wear a Breitling. If I were loaded to the point I could indulge myself, I'd have a Rolex and maybe another insanely high-end watch.
And I do wear a simple gold chain around my neck which has on it my parents' wedding bands. That, I never take off and never will. I think something as freighted with personal meaning is fair game for a man.
But, say, bracelets for men? Pinky rings? "Gold nugget" jewelry? Oh HAIL no. Just flat no.
So I repeat my question: what constitutes acceptable male jewelry for you?

Friday, October 12, 2007

There Are Blessings To Count
Brother Lycurgus was returning home after a stay on a beautiful Georgia sea island and, late at night on the Interstate, he was hit by an idiot who fell asleep at the wheel. His Outback is toast. But he and his passenger are both all right.
For this we give thanks. And we offer our hopes that the quest for a new car is not too onerous.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

300
The cat remix (meow mix?) with maybe a couple of skwerls and the "dramatic hamster" too.
More Halloween
I again call your attention to the wonderful, wonderful RavensBlight. I particularly like the "Haunted Paper Toys" section. I'm in the process of making The Face Plate mask. Last year I made Bela the bat. Bela was a pain to make but instructive in the process of making paper toys. There is some wonderful free (well, paper & printer ink aside) spooky holiday stuff at this site. Especially if you've got kids - projects with which you can spend quality crafty time with the younguns.
Boo Again!
Spiderpug, spiderpug, does whatever a spiderpug does.

(It would seem that a spiderpug has at least ten legs though. How does that work?)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

This Is How Self Absorption Works
I bought mushrooms at Costco today - chanterelles. I didn't know Costco did chanterelles. This is all about my not knowing. Good fungus. Tasty. Not cheap. But affordable at Costco.
Noob!
Congratulations to the Enigmatic Misanthrope and Missusanthrope as newly minted grandparents to a tiny little girl child. Yes, yes, the parents congratulations, blah, blah. But this bebe is the one the grandparents get to treat like ... well, like grandparents treat grandbebes.
Boo Too 2!
Poo or poo not. There is no 'try.'

Monday, October 08, 2007

Don't Ask
Don't tellovich.
Boo Too!
I find your lack of snacks ... disturbing.
On Sickness
Yesterday I posted about sick blogging. I asked questions. I asked the questions, really, because I don't think they have universal answers.
Sickness, illness, is intensely personal. Even in the instances where there is an epidemic or a pandemic or a family afflicted with something malign, the sickness is a sickness of one individual. Others can be of comfort. Others can sympathize. Others can, as I said, even have the same illness. But if you are sick, you don't usually much care what's happening to anyone else. A flu that makes both ends projectile active will put you off caring about much of anything else. Except death - there are times you'll really, really want that.
Of course, that are those who have acquired some affliction which comes to give a kind of definition to their lives. Lance Armstrong, for all his success in the saddle, has devoted himself to battling cancer. And that's a good thing. Worth blogging about even. And there are those who blog about health issues they pursue - losing weight for example (congrats to Brian Tiemann on his success, in fact). And that's well and good too. But such pursuits are not transient events. Sickness is.
So I am disinclined to post about illness, now that I have actively considered the idea of sick blogging. I posted the first post simply as a point of information. And, in point of information, I'm mostly over what I had. And thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for that. So, what say you, reader, about the idea of sickness blogging? Is it worth venting about how gawd-awful one feels? Is mankind benefited in any way when someone gives chapter and verse about the frailty of the house of the soul?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sickness Blogging
Is it worth it? Is there any other form of blogging more self absorbed?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Just
So sick today.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Fun With Stocks
I was just reviewing some info and saw that I bought shares of Halliburton three years ago this month. I paid $34.88 per share. Today the price of a share is (right now) $39.61. Three years and a $5 increase in share price? Not too great a buy. Ha. Not so. The stock has split since I bought it. I have more than doubled my money on it. And my oil services play, bought at the same time, is trading at over triple the price at which I first bought it. I wish I'd had the confidence to buy more.
I am sorry that I bought Microsoft though. I thought the introduction of the Vista OS would pay big. Lesson for the future: never underestimate the capability of Microsoft to suck. But the intro of Halo 3 seems to be working for them these last few weeks. Give me two more points and I'll sell it off.
Stuff I Bought Today
The Paul Reed Smith Dragons CD "Jenna's Eyes"
A PRS 513 T shirt (had to bring the order up to the $25 level)
Tools to sculpt punkins.

See. I really am out of things to post about.
Boo!
Lite Postings
I'm taking the time off to enjoy my new haircut. There's plenty going on (going to try to make Mojito Sorbet today for example) but I'm not going on about it. So there.
My friend the Enigmatic Misanthrope sent me some pugs in costume pics and, since it's the Halloween month, I'll be posting them. Come back later for awwwww-some cuteness.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

One Thing You Have To Say For China
You used to be asked "Regular or unleaded?" at the gas pump. Now it's at the toy store.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Paul Reed Smith Himself At Experience 2007
Thank goodness for others' initiative and uToob. I love this song and it gives me a chance to show PRSH playing one of his instruments. I hasten to point out that this performance was on Friday evening and so I didn't hear it live. But I sure wish I had. The song is "Jenna's Eyes."
In his talk on Saturday afternoon, he said that the guitar he played was made from a reject neck and a reject body. The wood PRS buys sometimes has wormholes and what he called "bird peck" which show as flaws and PRS doesn't sell guitars with flaws. So very often PRS makes guitars which are provided to PRS artists but which they wouldn't sell. Seems a little backward but it actually makes hella sense.
I Am So Remiss!
I've been reading, and commenting on the lovely and talented Rachel Lucas's site for a while now and I haven't added the Blue-Eyed Infidel to my blogroll! She was there before she took a break and she back in fine form - how can you not love dressing dogs as long as they are rewarded for their indignity by pieces of tasty pork? So she's there. And there she'll stay. Until I add a few more links and start categorizing the blogroll.
Because I'm sooooo good at organization.
Also, Curmudgeonly & Skeptical is back and has been for a while. Rodger didn't manage to stay away long thank Gawdness.
Last Footy Post Of The Year
Congratulations go to the Geelong Cats who laid waste to the Port Adelaide Power (who do wear cool looking guernseys) by a score of 163 (24, 19) to 44 (6.8). Yow. First Premiership for Geelong in 44 years and a record-breaking winning margin. Geelong has had a magical season. I thought Port Adelaide would be serious competition as they took their previous match against the Kangaroos by a score of 133 to 46. Collingwood gave Geelong a real fight compared to the Power. I hope I get to watch the grand final. That must have been a helluva game.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Guitar Madness
My friend the Guitar Nazi and I went over to the Eastern Shore of Mryland yesterday to join in the "Experience PRS" fest at the Paul Reed Smith factory. We arrived too late to sign on for any of the factory tours but we got a sweet swag bag (high quality cotton tee and a hat) and heard some kick-ass music from Johnny Hiland, Gary Grainger, Dave Grissom and Mark Tremonti. Great artists who couldn't have been nicer to the fans.
And I managed to get a laugh out of the crowd at one of Paul Reed Smith's (often shortened to PRSH for "Paul Reed Smith Himself") talks. He was telling jokes toward the end of speaking and asked "Why do drummers leave their sticks on their dashboards? ... So they can park in handicapped spot." I said, "I resent that!" PRSH Said, "Are you a drummer?" And I said, "No, I'm handicapped!" There was much laughter.
And, quite frankly, I don't get the drummer joke to begin with.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dateline: Cripple Creek, CO
Headline: Portly burros put on diet
Subhed: Veterinarian cracks down on Gold Rush icons
Nut graf: "In an ironic twist of fate, this city's historic herd of wild burros, the only live reminders of the Gold Rush that swept the Rocky Mountains a century and a half ago, have been rounded up and quarantined because of the onset of ... obesity."

Feel free to read the whole story, though I don't know how long the link will last. Why is this post-worthy? Because of exercise. As we all know, exercise is good for the overweight. So, given all the facts above, this is the one instance when you can turn to a teamster and say, "Move your fat ass!" And it's just good advice.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Since I'm Running Dry
I have nothing of interest to post. So I will resort to linkage. Go see Dark Roasted Blend. Lotsa, lotsa links to viddys, pics and all kinds of cool stuff. Go see the Icelandic Northern Lights photos. Oooooh! Ahhhhh!
I may have to add DRB to the blogroll.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!
Yesterday afternoon I was cleaning my kitchen, which has a view of my li'l townhouse driveway. I had neglected to go out and get the noisepaper which was lying in its orange baggie down at the end of said driveway. That being as it was, I look out to see the school children walking up the road from the bus stop down the way. And one of the girls stops, looks at my newspaper, picks it up, dumps it out of the bag, leaves the bag and starts to walk away with it. Excuse me? You're stealing my newspaper. So I open the window and say "Please don't steal my newspaper. I paid for it. Just leave it." And she drops it in situ.
But holy hell. Bloody little thief. I'll know better from now on.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Don't Usually Do Gibsons
I leave that to Billy Beck. And, in point of fact, the link I'm putting up to this 2007 Firebird V is stolen (unnnhhhh borrowed I mean) directly from him. I'm not a particular fan of the Firebird series as it tends to lack style. Not this one though. Real beauty - flame maple wings on a mahogany body. So far, reasonably priced as well. It's no PRS, but you could do worse with a 'lectrified git-box than this one.
Recent Netflixing
I rented "Black Snake Moan" the other day. I can't say that anyone should waste money on this poor movie. It does feature the surprisingly luscious Christina Ricci and her amazing boobs. If they were more prominently featured it might actually be worth renting. But ... no. Actually, it's not bad per se, just not actively good. The same guy who wrote "Hustle & Flow" (which I haven't seen and won't be seeing - ever) wrote this one and it just drips with pretension. I will say one other thing for the movie though. Skinny whigger Justin Timberlake is a decent actor. I could buy him in the role he was playing. Which surprised me. I'm going to have to accept the fact that he'll keep getting acting work because of his musical "career" and he'll end being a good actor. He should be thinking God every day for the on-the-job training that Hollywood gives almost no one.
I Don't Dream Much
However, last night I had horrible nightmares. Nothing resolved, of course, but in my capsule hell of an overnight, Islamofascists detonated nukes in most of the West's major cities - Washington, London, Madrid, Paris, Buenos Aries (How did I know that? It was part of a news report.), Tokyo, Singapore, Los Angeles, Chicago and one in the Panama Canal for good measure. In my dream, the nuke destined for Jerusalem was found by the Mossad and delivered to Damascus in time for its detonation. It was the only success of defenders of civilization in the whole damned thing.
I'm willing to give up pleasant dreams if I don't have to live through the kind I had last night.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Have The Book Title
Now, I just have to write a book about computer humor. It will be called "Quotations from Chairman LMAO."
LOLbugs #2
Not the best caption. You make one. In comments plz!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

LOLbugs #1

Alternate captions: "Mr. Miyagi, I'm ready for my closeup."
"My name might by Kwai Chang Caine but do NOT call me 'grasshopper!'"
Please feel free to add more in comments.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bugger!
The Collingwood Magpies dropped the preliminary final match to the Geelong Cats 87 (13.9) to 92 (13.14). That scores refer to goals (six points) and "behinds" (one point). It was, on the whole an up year for the Pies though. Finishing in a tie for fifth place in the regualr season with 52 points (although nominally behind Hawthorn), Collingwood put together a rousing post season to come within five points of regular season champion Geelong which finished well clear of the pack with 72 points.
And the detested Brisbane Lions finished in 10th place, out of the post-season play. Tahellwidcha!

PoW PSA: Help Homeless Animals

The Animal Rescue League of NH is holding their 4th Annual PetStep fundraising walk on September 22nd. The League is a no-kill shelter that is dedicated to saving the lives of pets and improving the lives of people. In addition to rescuing and re-homing 1,600 animals a year, the League intervenes in cases of animal cruelty and neglect, actively promotes spay/neuter, and provides free Humane Eduction to over 6,000 children a year.

One of the most recent cases handled by the League is Moxie. When Moxie got pregnant, her owner dumped her in a culvert where she was later found - starving - trying to protect her nine brand new puppies. These perfectly healthy and beautiful pups were taken to a shelter in their native Mississippi where they likely would have been euthanized due to overcrowding. The League's transport effort arranged for Moxie and the puppies to travel to New Hampshire, which has a low dog population. In NH they were all vaccinated, spayed, and neutered, one little pup with a bad knee got orthopedic treatment, and they will now all go to loving homes and have very happy endings.

To help save Moxie and hundreds of animals like her, please consider making a donation to the League's PetStep through their website at www.rescueleague.org. Please designate your donation as "PetStep - Moxie."
(Editor's note: This post will be bumped to the top of the page until Sept. 22.)


Thursday, September 20, 2007

What I Made Today
A Maple-Pecan Upside Down Cake which recipe I got from Relish magazine. Or "magazine." It's one of those weekly newsprint insert thingies that comes with my noisepaper. I would provide a link to the instructions but it seems the site has hidden it by now. God thing I printed it out while it was "fresh." And how was it you ask? Well, it could have been better. I find that I use flour so infrequently that what I had in the pantry has lost its freshness. So now I have to dump the old stuff, buy new and try it again. And I used pecan halves. They are a bit unwieldy. I'd use no more than nut quarters in the future.
When I make it right, I'll post the recipe. If anyone wants it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

LOLcats Doesn't Always Get It Right
I saw the picture to the right posted with the caption I put a line through. My caption is better. More topical. Brilliant!

Why Support Animal Rescue?
Billy Beck points to the story of Roger van Bakel whose application for adoption of Baxter, a Saint Bernard, was turned down. RTWT but the nub of the gist is that despite a history of dog rescue care, van Bakel's family was not allowed to care for Baxter because there were children under the age of 12 in the household. And they couldn't guarantee the background of the dog. So Baxter was euthanized. I'm going to guess that liability concerns were the driving factor in this. This makes me very sad.
Please note that the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire (below) is a no-kill shelter. That is the kind of animal rescue I do support.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Songs Of PRaiSe
Here's a Brazilian rosewood-necked 513 on eBay. The BIN price is basically the retail price of one when the Brazzy was the only model offered. Actually, with the artist pack upgrades, the price is even better. This beauty is in Mateo Blue which would make it, essentially the twin of mine. If you want a really, I mean really sweet guitar, here it is. Oh, and if you watched "American Idol," you saw this same guitar being played by the band's lead guitarist.
Maple Bacon Morning Coffee
In a word: Meh. In many more words: There is definitely a flavor of maple but it is subtle. I really get no bacon out of it at all, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It's OK but not any more than that. The blueberry was vastly better. Clear evidence that Boca Java doesn't hit every one out of the park. Than again, El Rushbo says the Maple Bacon Morning is his favorite so kissed the cow, YMMV, non disputandum, etc. etc.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Whadda Ya Think?
Tomorrow brings another trip to Costco and I do believe I'm going to bring home a watermelon for another sorbet experiment. I'm thinking green apple vodka in a watermelon base with just a hint of balsamic vinegar for spice. Any one care to argue me out of it? Or suggest another direction for the 'bet?