Friday, January 30, 2009

I Have Nightmares
I have this recurring nightmare where I'm trapped in a sausage skin. Of course that's the wurst case scenario.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

EM's inspiration corner....does size matter?
"Never come between a mother and her baby."
Squirrel maternal instinct photo sequence.

You have got to admire this squirrel. I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.
Oh... I will be proud to lead this wonderful squirrel into battle anytime, anywhere.
That's all.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dis GUSTing!
I just knocked the space bar off my keyboard as I was cleaning the surface of the keys. E-yuk! Now I think I'm going to have to take off all the keys (picture first!) and clean the spooge that adheres under the keys themselves.
I urge all of you to clean your keyboards as well. The world will be a better place for it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'll Be a Son Of A Cross-Eyed Snake
I went shopping at the Co of Cost today to lay in some supplies (BAYcon! cheese! [smoked gouda & gorgonzola], porkchops with the delicious coupon discount) including the best buy in eggs going: a two pack of dozen and a halfsies. I did the calc, including the tax. Just a shade less than 13¢ per egg. 13¢! Two eggs for, essentially, a quarter! Is there any better deal for that much nutrition in this hullabolutin' world?
In the US, I should say. And the unsell by date on these is March 8. I don't even have to eat eggs every day to use them by then. And, as Peg Bundy said, "It says 'best if used by,' Al!"
And my new desire is the massive DVD pack of Alton Brown's "Good Eats" at Amazon.

The Stupid Joke Of The Day
Diet-aiding drugs are girth control pills.

UPDATE: Here's one I hadn't heard before...
A wealthy old lady decides to go on a photo safari in Africa, taking
her faithful aged poodle named Cuddles, along for the company. One day the poodle starts chasing butterflies and before long, Cuddles discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch.
The old poodle thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep doo-doo now!" Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap the old poodle exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder if there are any more around here?"
Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!", says the leopard, "That was close! That old poodle nearly had me!"
Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So off he goes, but the old poodle sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up. The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.
The young leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!
Now, the old poodle sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?" but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old poodle says."Where's that damn monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!
Moral of this story....
Don't mess with old farts...age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill! Bullshit and brilliance only come with age and experience.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Misanthrope Productions Presents

"The Best Panhandler in New Orleans"

*turn your volume up

Today's Must Read
Victor Davis Hanson at Pajamas Media. Less dyspeptic than I (below), certainly more reasoned and very well put. Trifecta. RTWT. Now. Please.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Day After
Just a couple of minor key thoughts after the great Obamagasm on the Mall. First, "Rev." Lowery can go to hell for insulting only whites in his idiotic little rhyme at the end of the benediction. I have no animus toward anyone who does not share my ethnic heritage but he obviously sees only whites as those who do not "do right." Screw you. You just showed me a black man who did very, very wrong.
Then again, what Lowery said rhymed. The inaugural "poem" was crap on a stick. Earlier I railed against Maya Angelou's craptastic poem for Clinton inauguration but I now have to give her credit: at least it was a poem. That nonsense we were subjected to yesterday was a laundry list read by someone who has absolutely no idea how poetry should be read out loud. William Carlos Williams was once accused of writing a "grocery list" but it was a grocery list arranged so that the "poetic rhythym (could) emerge." Here there was no rythym, no music, just the dull plodding of someone writing words down on paper.
This woman, this alleged poet, makes me think she has never read Shakespeare, even Poe in "The Bells" or "The Raven" shows that cadence matters as much as rhyme. Does anyone actually study poetry in this country any more?
In any event, I'll not take anything as augury. And in answer to the question of "Do you support the president?" No. Absolutely not. I support my country. I believe in freedom. The new regime wants my allegiance but that is reserved for America, not Barack. And I will use the lessons I've learned from the opponents of Presidents Bush: oppose everything on the basis of politics, only call the President "Mr." instead of "President," and never govern - only campaign, campaign, campaign.
Also, read Billy Beck - scroll through the January 20 posts on Two--Four - he gets it. The loss of real freedom we suffered under Bush is going to look like a walk in park compared to what the left will do in the next four years.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Posting from my end will be non-existent this week as I am suffering from something carpal-tunnel-ish in my right hand. A couple of days ago my right elbow hurt like I'd whacked it against something. The elbow is now Ok but from the wrist to the fingers there is pain and numbness. I am currently unable to close my fingers into a fist. I believe this is an extreme expression of a nerve in my wrist that gets pinched. If I can pop it loose, I'll be fine.
Still, typing and even moreso using the mouse is not something I want to do for a while. Y'all enjoy the dawning of a new era, mmK?
UPDATE: Well. That didn't last as long as I'd expected. Looks as though the damn hand is loosening up already. It still hurts but I can see it being only a minor annoyance by tomorrow (The Day When All Ills Will Be Forgotten PBUO!) As long as it doesn't keep me awake tonight as it did last night.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What could be cuter than the SS, a kitten and a hand grenade?..aahh

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs - Effortless
I got this one watching the great Alton Brown. If you have an electric kettle, put in four eggs, cover with water and click the kettle on. It will automatically shut off after boiling. Leave the eggs in the hot kettle for 15 minutes after the kettle clicks off.
Remove. Peel. The yolks are not hard hard boiled but since that's exactly how I prefer them, I'm certainly not complaining. And they peel perfectly too.

EM has an epiphany...

...On earth as it is in heaven

Give us this day our daily bread...


oh..hmmm..forget it!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I Don't Know What This Means
File under "coincidence" I suppose.
The wife of my good friend the Guitar Nazi, she also is a friend but I think I've made the GN a character here so it bears referral, has a cousin who lives in Florida, the same county actually as Lycurgus. She has become my very dear friend in one of those rare situations wherein two people just fall in from minute one. A couple of months ago she visited me for a couple of days as she was traveling along the East Coast. In the course of reminiscing and hashing over life, I dug into my stock of Stuff Which I Inherited Including Women's Jewelry. I gave her a strange little piece to pass along to another friend of hers and mine down in the Sunshine State.
So, sometime in the new year I called down to leave a message saying "happy new year" and asking if the recipient of the piece liked it. A couple of days ago I got a call from the one who ended up with it on the one who took it's phone. At the same time, I got a call from the Guitar Nazi. I had, then, a message on my home machine and a message on Verizon's voice mail.
I was expecting neither call and yet they came from people with a strong relationship at the same time. It's not 6º of separation but I find the happenstance intriguing nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

That's The Big "Aha!"
So I start by quoting the GEICO gecko. There worse things in life. Which avoids the question what is the big "Aha!" It's the revelation that my kitchen is actually a cunningly constructed Rubik's Cube. I concede that the colors have been scrambled now for a while (i.e. the kitchen got way too messy). But in order to get all the colors to face up (i.e. really organize the place) I have to further scramble the colors.
I'm working on two kitchen surfaces that have been accumulating stuff for at least three years with little rhyme or reason save that said surfaces were convenient places to put things. Now that I'm putting things to right, I have off-loaded a lot of stuff onto the previously clean surfaces making the kitchen look, for now, even more messy that it did last night. But tomorrow will see the snick-snick-snicking of those surfaces back to unichrome again. And possibly the relocation of cookbooks. Possibly.

Light Posting
Please feel free to stop by PoW but it's a sure bet my posting will be light this week. There is a muchness of things to do and getting them done is sapping my energy and time.
Last night a great dumpling feast was had with two of the three bloggers hereon (EM - you shoulda been here!) and Irving whose site is linked in the sidebar. I got to pass along the Tao of the Bao to another couple of people and we ate a huge pile of delicious pork dumplings. I know I had fun and hope the others did as well.
If something requires posting, I'll jump right on it but I've not got anything in mind of the next few days. Have fun y'all!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Going All Digital On The TV
I now have the converter box up an running (ring! ring! "Is your refrigerator running?"). In point of fact, I'm watching "24" via the box now. The local Fox affiliate provides a lousy analog signal in my (choose a body part) of the woods but its digisig is pure and clear. Another fun thing is that the remote for the converter has been trained to turn on the TV. Which means I can put the TV's remote away, or will be able to when the Most Holy And Anointed One (we'll call him "O" for short) deigns to allow the completion of the conversion.
Yet old habits are hard to break. I muted the sound on the box during an ad. When the show came back on, I pointed the remote at the TV and hit mute again. Nada. I now have to train myself to point the remote at the box when I'm doing anything other than turning the screen on and off. I think I'll manage.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wasting The Weekend
There is not much of blogging as The Great Kitchen Rationalization is ongoing these two days. Much has been done (the fridge is neater than it's been since move in and a a couple of decisions about throwing out of things remain) and tomorrow should see the finish. I have been so ad hoc about allowing things to accumulate that I was running short on counter space. Not good. Now, however, there are horizontal surfaces. The kitchen table has space to seat more than one person without having to rearrange detritus.
And my fancy-dancy fire extinguisher will be mounted on a cabinet side tomorrow.
It's not perfect (of course) since I need to figure out what to do with a couple of things. But I'm encouraged. Next weekend, the dining table will be returned to horizontality. Oh yes. It will.

Friday, January 09, 2009

One heads into some things with great expectations only to have them dashed as if a balsa raft against the reef of disappointment. To wit: Ginger ice cream. One of my resolutions this New Year is that I get one "serving" of ice cream per month. And one extra on my birthday. Serving is loosely defined as a purchased pint (even if said pint yields a couple of bowls) or any other smaller (e.g. a Frosty at Wendy's) purchase.
I learned through an accidental e-mail that a local creamery sells ginger ice cream made with freeze-dried ginger which is described (at the link) thusly:
By retaining all of the natural oils and aromatics through the freeze drying process, this ingredient provides the intense, bright flavor of fresh ginger. Freeze dried ginger hydrates rapidly in water or oil and is excellent for use in dry seasoning blends, beverages, baked goods, instant soups, sauces, ice cream, confectionery, chocolate and nutraceutical products.
My first inclination was to want to get my hands on the powder straight-up. Loving ginger as much as I do, I'd probably lay out lines and snort it ... naaahhh. But it's sold in bulk, the "small" size being 5 pounds. Likely a more-than-lifetime supply even for me. But since an ice cream shop in my old home town was featured as using the product, I thought that I might see if I could buy a smaller amount directly from them.
And, of course, score myself the monthly hit of the cold stuff.
Well, the powder wasn't readily available, though the owner said she'll call me with a price for, say four ounces or so. But the ice cream was there. So away with a pint I went to a fellow ginger nut's house. We divided the booty (that sounds vaguely obscene doesn't it?) and slipped a lip to it.
Meh. (insert sound of splintering balsa raft here)
It was good but it was no where near as ginger-fied as I'd want it. In short, I wouldn't go to the trouble to go there to buy it again. Yet I hold out high hopes (is that a reef I see in the distance?) for the freeze-dried stuff.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Your Fast Food Daily Brief
All January, the good Christian folks at Chik-Fil-A are handing out a free full-sized breakfast item on Thursday mornings. CFA does not do the best brekkies but their sausage burrito is in the boundary of acceptable and the free stuff makes it worth a trip.

And in the not fast food section of your briefing: Trader Joe's is selling house-branded "Reserve" cabernet sauvignon. There may be other varietals too but I saw only a big display of the cab. It's not Two (Three, really) Buck Chuck - it's a sawbuck a bottle. And it's good. Very good. Low tannin, fruity and a pleasure to drink. It's difficult to imagine a better buy in an easily available quality wine.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Your Proctologist Called...
What I Did On Christmas Eve
I helped make gingerbread cookies! The cutting of shapes and the icing thereof. My specific contributions after the pics.
(as always, click to embigggen)

So Blogger has fixed
the problem. Good for them. My contribution to the cookie fest were the silo, the Obama O (we hadn't made the blue icing or it would have been all blued up), both Christmas trees, the wreath, the heart, the angel, the deer's butt (hey - we had a deer head) and the original design from which the tractor was created. I'm creative but kinda suck at free-form cookie making.
I believe the next foray into holiday gingerbread cookies will be for the Fourth of July. I'm going to work on my icing skillz in the meantime.
The Promised "Dark Knight" Assessment
I have to start with a caveat that this is not a review of the movie. A review should get into, at some point, a description of the narrative flow of the movie and I don't think there's much need for that. If you need to read a traditional review, go the IMDB page for the movie and click on the "external reviews" link in the nav bar on the left.
So, what is it about the flick that makes it worthy of any special attention here at PoW which, as anyone with eyes to see can tell, is a general interest blog? I think it starts with a moment of consideration of the "reboot" of the Batman franchise with "Batman Begins." Despite the slightly cartoonish aspect of Liam Neeson's "Ra's al Ghul" character, there was a seriousness of purpose that was basically absent in all the highly stylistic but cotton-candyish previous incarnation of the movies since Tim Burton's dark and Gothic first booting up thereof. (Yes, I will wring the last drop of juice from a convenient metaphor.) Bruce Wayne went through a Campbellian (Joseph) "hero's journey" to emerge as the force for good that protects an entire city against forces that would ruin it for some distorted idea of redemptive emergence. Characters were introduced such as Morgan Freeman's "Q"-like Lucius Fox that, while secondary, were like pillars of the movie: brutally strong (i.e. well acted) and necessary to support the edifice.
Now to subvert that metaphor, "Batman Begins" becomes the foundation that supports the construction of an even grander edifice. The chosen villain is, arguably, the quintessential villain of the Batman series - The Joker. And he is given life by an absolute tour-de-force job of acting by the late Heath Ledger. Before I saw the movie, I tended to think that the Oscar buzz about the performance might have been overblown by his unfortunate demise. But I was wrong.
The Joker has gone through some incarnations on video: Ceasar Romero on the campy TV show, Jack Nicholson in the previous incarnation. Romero established a paradigm of sorts playing the grinning fiend with a high-pitched almost silly sort of laugh. Nicholson brought more grounded menace to the role with lines like (pre actual Joker) "Did you ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?" and the anger in the funny line "Where does he get those wonderful toys!?" But there was still a kind of camp silliness to the role. Ledger's Joker, unlike Nicholson's who had a long backstory, comes out of nowhere, fully formed as a demon from the moment we meet him. His conflicting stories of how he got his facial scars only serve to let us know that we are
not being told his backstory, we have no idea of how this beast came to be. Only Alfred's explanation that there are some people who have no rationality, who only want to see the world burn give us an indication of what this thing really is. And Ledger does not play his part with the maniacal cackling of Romero. His voice is, if anything, lower and quieter throughout which only adds to the menace. Rather brilliantly done actually. I think he only used the line "Why so serious?" twice (three times?) but it absolutely crackles with insane menace. In point of fact, the only choice he made that I didn't care for was his wiggling of the "ripcord" on a coat full of grenades when he had his big meet with the Gotham mafia. A waste of movement from a villain who seems not to waste an atom of himself.
In short, were I voting for the Academy Awards, I would vote For Heath Ledger not only without hesitation but with brio. I hope his work is so recognized.

As for the movie itself, exceedingly good. My problems lie in certain areas that don't add up to much against the quality of the movie. Maggie Gyllenhaal (for whom I've had an unnatural affection since "Secretary") is a poor replacement for Katie Holmes as the assistant district attorney. Katie is not a great actress but she is a good one and she carried more gravitas and is a more conventional beauty. Maggie is the object of both Bruce Wayne and Aaron Eckhat's (DA Harvey Dent as if you didn't know) affections. Sorry. She's not believable in that role. Katie was. Who would I have cast? I keep thinking of Morena Baccarin. She's essentially the same age as Katie Holmes, proved her acting ability in "Serenity" and she's insanely gorgeous. Not a bad combination that.
My philosophical problem with the movie relates to the springing of The Joker fully formed on the movie. I don't object to its being done but I do have reservations. I call this "diabolus ex machina." Just as deus ex machina was used for magical resolution in Greek drama, here we have the "devil from the machine" appear on stage with all sorts of magical powers.
(spoiler alert) From the very start the Joker organizes a very complex bank robbery which would have cost him a significant amount of money to pull off even if he does kill nearly all his accomplices. And the instances of massive diesel powered bombings in the movie would have required the mobilization of resources that would 911 "troothers" pause. We are supposed to believe the Gotham mafia is on his side but as "The Sopranos" demonstrated, there is no honor among thieves which make coöperation such a massive scale unlikely. Yet we accept the possibilities, and the Rube Goldberg-like series of events required for the diabolical plans to work because, well, we kind of have to. Which is a pity as the rest of the movie so well plotted, the actions are so well motivated, the dialogue so well written. We suspend disbelief in the instance because we are made to believe in the whole. At least that's the way it seems to me.
The bottom line on this movie has several parts. Christian Bale now owns the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne. Best Actor - Heath Ledger. Best Movie - "The Dark Knight." And let's throw in best screenplay too. But save best special effects for "Iron Man." What a year. We had the pleasure of two superb movies made from comic book characters. Every one's inner geek should be doing a little happy dance. Mine is.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Your Fast Food Daily Brief
Yeah, I know - fast food, not what I should I be eating, blah, blah, blah. I was out, I hadn't eaten, I used the drive-through.
Burger King. New "Angry" Whopper. Supposed to be spicy. It isn't. Don't bother. It seems only Wendy's can do a real spicy burger. Here's a hint: use jalapenos. Lots and lots and lots of 'em. And don't sleep on Wendy's 99¢ DoubleStack while it lasts - best bargain in burgers.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Just A Joke Before Reviewing
Three friends from the local congregation were asked, "When you're in your casket, and friends and congregation members are mourning over you, what would you like them to say?"
Artie said, "I would like them to say I was a wonderful husband, a fine spiritual leader, and a great family man."
Eugene commented, "I would like them to say I was a wonderful teacher and servant of God who made a huge difference in people's lives."
Al said, "I'd like them to say, 'Look, he's moving!'"

UPDATE:Another one is a similarly jocular vein.

John was on his deathbed and gasped pitifully.
"Give me one last request dear." he said.
"Of course, John." his wife said softly.
"Six months after I die," he said, "I want you to marry Bob."
"But I thought you hated Bob." she said.
With his last breath John said, "I do!"

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Recent Netflixery
Finished watching "The Dark Knight." Unquestionably a great film. Definite Oscar bait. Full review shortly.

Friday, January 02, 2009

3 Hopes for 2009

To maintain a blog one has to be an optimist. You have to be comfortable with the idea that something you might write could inform or inspire, and that people might be drawn to you again after just one such moment of clarity. The more pessimistic blogs may well be correct in their outlook but who wants to read them on a regular basis?

My three hopes for 2009 are these:

1. Be optimistic. This is easier said than done but one which pays off in terms of your health and I believe your pocketbook, too. A negative attitude grinds people down and repels people from you. It is hard for a decision maker to give a raise or a promotion to somebody they don't want to be near, to name one example.

2. Consider all the various forms of social networking, no matter how immature they are at the present. By this I mean, look at how you use your phone, computer, and television set to see how they are converging and how they might help you to stay in touch with friends, family, and the community at large. Look at how children are using their cell phones and their MySpace pages to interact and wonder if there might be some way you could do the same, to either make money or to further the efforts of a church or school organization.

3. Let me know if I can be of help. Again, this is easier said than done but don't let it stop you from reaching out to me or some other optimistic soul. This could be as simple as searching on LinkedIn or picking up the phone and calling. In this Internet age it's easier than you know to find people. What's more, once you find someone you both might be pleasantly surprised by the responses.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year to one and all.
I entered the last year with hopes but an unwillingness to confront difficult issues. This year I enter with resolve to do the things I did not do in the past. Despite the troubles we face, there is much in the world to be had if we are willing to gasp the handle and open the door.