Tuesday, May 31, 2005

If You Weren’t Fat, You Wouldn’t Be An Asshole.


Protective Layer Of Blubber Saves Roman Youth From Juvie.

Judge Orders Teen Bully To Slim Down

I'm Henry the 8th I am, I am!Unrelated Photo Of Football Hooligan



The 17 year old kid has been charged with vandalism, slander, and disturbing the peace. Apparently, the judge feels that the boy’s weight (220lbs) has caused him to be “naughty”. A diet would “reinforce his self-esteem”.

A diet could . reinforce his self-esteem. Or it could cause him to eat . the other children when he has a bout of low blood sugar. I'm not sure I'd want to take that risk.

On the other hand, maybe the judge did him a favor. When he finally demonstrates he's an asshole because it's just who he is, by the time he goes back to court as an adult, he'll be all pretty for his future cellmates. After all, nobody wants to put it to a fat bottom.



For Lance:

Mmmm! Marmite!

Marmite Hate Club

Marmite: Not as much fun as pants weasels; Not quite as disgusting as natto.

Natto!



Shout Out

To Roundelay , who has seen fit to link me to her blog. Greetings!

Friday, May 27, 2005

If I String Them Up And Hit Them With Sticks…

…will they break open and spill like piƱatas?

Korean Government Puts Kids on Candy Diet



From the report: "The candy report comes on the same day a top U.N. agency official said the food shortage crisis in North Korea is growing more severe by the day and the communist state is dispensing 'starvation rations' to its population."

Next, they'll be trying to reduce the surplus population by using the candy to lure the kids into vans.

It eats the candy or it gets the hose again.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Lesson in Cause and Effect

I came in to my classroom this morning to find this scrawled on my chalkboard:



We had a half day yesterday. Because of the monsoon-like conditions from the late May Nor'Easter, the boiler room flooded and power to the building had to be cut in order to get to and fix the leak safely.

No power = No lunch. No lunch = No school.

My kids interpreted it this way:



Close enough. A's all around for sorting out "cause and effect".

Now leave my chalkboard alone when I'm not there.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It's Come To This



This is a new club some enterprising high school student has started. If you're too lazy to participate in an activity, but need extracurriculars for your college application - then this club is for you.

I'd like more duties and credits to pad my resume, but I'm too lazy to take on additional responsibilites. Why didn't they ask me to be advisor? Dammit...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Port and Beer = Accurate TV Reviews. Really.

This is a big TV week.

Which is good, because TV goes down well with beer and, tonight, it went down well with Taylor Fladgate 20 year old tawny port and beer.

The things I do not to have to leave my house to buy more booze, especially on a big TV night.

What Is The Sound Of Two Contestants Sucking: “American Idol”

I do not normally watch “American Idol”. Tonight I did. And I made Mr. Scoop watch. I figure, if it’s going to cause my ears or eyeballs to bleed I should have someone standing by who can call dial 911. And it’s on right before “House”.

Excellent Mr. Scoop quote of the evening: [When trying to hit the high notes] Carrie makes “that weird Jenny McCarthy ‘dick-in-the-ass’ face”:



Don't Believe The Hype

I have heard tales that this “Simon” fellow is a complete hardass. I don’t think I have been more disappointed about the hype surrounding an individual. I thought he was all about straight talk to the hapless, talent-challenged contestants.

Lies.

I have never heard a more tonally challenged, uncharismatic pair of individuals.

But, I don’t know if it’s Idol’s fault entirely. Let’s look at the raw material that made up these finals.

Bo Bice v. Carrie Underwood

First of all, “Bo Bice” – Um, failed porn star name? Or awful parasitic infection to one’s genitals: “I have to get some salve for the Bice on my Bo.”
And then, beyond that, the kid is clearly trying to channel Scott Stapp (Eeek! Creed!). And, of course, Scott Stapp wishes he were Eddie Vedder.

So, that means that Bo Bice is the cubed root of pathos. Or pathos cubed. I’m not a math major.

Then we have Miss Carrie Underwood.

First of all, when I hear the name “Carrie”, I have certain expectations – for example, if you suck out loud and you’re named Carrie, someone should dump a bucket of pig’s blood on you if you’re in the public eye. Sure, I blame Stephen King, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic.

And this chiquita, she did suck out loud. With bells on.

Look, everyone is well aware that Shania Twain got into country music because she was reasonably hot and could carry a tune (and married that Mutt guy), but in terms of marketing would never be able to go head to head (at the time) with Britney and Christina in the straight pop market.

Twang it up all you want, it won’t cover the inability to hit the damn high notes.

I’d like to make a pithy Chris Gaines joke here, but I’ve been drinking.

What We Should Learn From This

Amercan Idol serves a purpose. It makes a bunch of otherwise aimless, sedentary, apathetic (but easily led) US citizens fall into a fervid, nay rabid, voting frenzy.

(gosh, missed you campers in November...just saying...)


"Dial (string of numbers) with the text message of 'vote' if you want Bo (or Carrie)"

But they both suck.

?!?!?!??????

What if I dial one of the numbers with the word "Suck" in my message? Does that count? Does it count as a vote?

Probably not. It won't fit.

So, here's what you learn kids: American Idol is important because it makes you mobilize your asses to vote about things that are apparently important to you. But, sometimes, you are forced to vote on what appears to be the lesser of two evils. Kind of like the real election. I can tell you who I would've sent my text message about, just like I could've told you who I would've voted for.

But, don't you wish (deep down), there was a third choice that didn't involve having to move to Canada?

Yeah.

Me too.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Jack Bauer, Renegade



Still recovering from the season finale of "24". Can't find the damn cool shot of him in the aviator sunglasses, as he abandons his identity and the people he cares about to flee from the wrath of those damn Commies. Oh, but he'll return.

He. Will. Return.

At least that's what the teaser at the end promises me.

I can't say enough abut how much I love this show. I even ended up not hating Chloe by the end of the season.

New season starts January 2006.






Is it January yet?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

"The Punisher", Stair Diving, and Other Tales

God bless Garth Ennis.

I think I’m the only 33 year old female, that I know, who spent the morning reading his one-off “The Punisher: The Cell” while painting her nails purple-blue with glitter in an attempt to recover from a particularly craptacular hangover.

If you aren’t reading “The Punisher”, why aren’t you? Go buy “The Cell” now. Go. By hitting the site, you’ve already inflated the sitecounter. I’m satisfied. I’ll forgive you if you go. But only if you buy this book.



This story details Frank Castle turning himself in for the express purpose of getting prison access to the Mob guys who were responsible for gunning down his wife and children during the botched hit on Don Francesco Drago in Central Park. It is tense. It is moving. It is beautifully violent. It is Ennis at his best. Go buy this comic now.

Why Am I Hungover?

Because I drink.

Duh.

I've mentioned these fine folks before: Dogfish Head Brewery.

I was hung over this morning because I spent last night drinking this: Immort Ale .

From the site:

"Brewed with peat-smoked barley, this strong ale is brewed with organic juniper berry, vanilla, and maple syrup. It is then aged on oak and fermented with a blend of English & Belgian yeasts. 11% ABV 40 IBU "

And when I ran out I kept drinking, other, lesser beers. For my sins, I woke up with a hangover that was truly an artistic work of Satan.

As far as Immort Ale goes, you really need to like Barley Wine to enjoy this. A number of folks who I handed this to, at the party we happened to be at, felt that it was on the sweet side. One individual described it this way : "It could be an ice cream topping, but, smokey." Of course, Mr. Scoop has gotten this guy to almost (almost!) go stair diving at least once. It was not as cool as: .
I can't make the link work, but if you go here and scroll down to "Surfing Stairs" you'll understand what I mean.

Mr. Scoop has the power to make other people do that. That's all I'm saying.

But, back to the beer, I liked it. It was malty as all hell, but the oak and the maple were damn addictive. This is not a beer you chill heavily. This is a beer you savor, as though it is a scotch - and save for a special occasion, like having to interact with co-workers outside of work.

Christ, I'm so looking forward to Monday.

Other Tales

I've seen "Revenge Of The Sith". Never have I wanted it to be July and the debut of of the second season of "Battlestar Gallactica" more quickly. Goddamn you, George Lucas.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Great Wine Experiment

...or "Too Much Time On My Hands"

The very nice man at the wine store talked me into spending entirely too much on wine this afternoon. Since I’d spent no money on food this week, I figured I was breaking even.

Among the bottles he talked me into was one called “Las Rocas”. It was $10. The grape it is made from is called Garnacha (which, apparently is just Grenache and would explain why the guy kept pronouncing it that way). Normally, it is used to blend with Tempranillo in Rioja. He told me it would taste unremarkable at first and would require a lot of time to breathe. In fact, it would even be better then next day. I don’t have that kind of time. My buzz will wait for no man (or woman or properly aerated bottle of wine for that matter).

As an experiment, I’ve opened the bottle. I will take a sip (or 2 or 3) from the glass every half hour until 8 o’clock and my phone date with Mr. Scoop. Then all bets are off and I’m finishing this sucker. Let’s see how oxygen affects the wine’s flavor over the next 3 ½ hours.

4:30 – The wine is a deep red-purple. Swirling it around the glass, it has ok legs. Not too syrupy, not too runny. Taking a sniff, I’m not getting much other than alcohol. That could be because I’ve poured a tiny amount into a huge balloon glass. Tasting the wine, I note that the flavor is pretty gentle. If I drank this right now, it’d go down easy but unremarkably. However, it’s a very soft flavor. I’m curious what will happen with more oxygen to open it up.

5:00 – A fruit fly is trying to commit suicide in my wine. I fish him out with some difficulty. He clearly has a death wish and is groggy from the fumes. Once clear, I take a big whiff of the wine again. Getting more grape now. A little raspberry. I wonder if I’m imagining things. Nope. Raspberry. I take a sip. The wine has become more spicy, a bit deeper. I hope that’s not a result of the fly. If I didn’t know better I’d say there’s some other stuff in there waiting to open up. Or maybe I’m a mildly buzzed poser. Maybe I should eat something.

5:30 – My wine appears to be clear of morbidly inclined insects. I’ve had an English muffin and a water cracker. The water cracker appears to have gone stale and tastes oddly of laundry detergent. I rinse my mouth out and take the final swig from this pour of wine. The pepper flavor is still present, but has mellowed slightly. The wine has taken on a more velvety mouth feel and has become rounder in flavor. The nice man at the store said this would be a good cook-out wine. I wonder what this would be like with a burger. I contemplate walking to Wendy’s, but discard that idea when I realize that would mean having to get dressed or at least find pants. Again. If I get desperate I’ll thaw a Boca Burger.

6:00 – The wine seems to have plateaued. It still maintains the attributes it’d developed by 5:30, but does not appear to have opened any further. And if it did, where would it go?

6:05 – Mr. Scoop has reminded me that I was supposed to pick up Coors Light on the way home. Chastened, I resume my search for my pants. And car keys. And breath mints.

6:07 – Operation “Pants Recovery” is a failure. Must buy a bureau. Opt for pajama bottoms, without feet, and sunglasses. I walk to the liquor store on the corner. That guy sells to homeless guys who pay in nickels. He won’t care that I seem to have forgotten that I’ve left the house in a shirt embellished with the remnants of toothpaste drool.

6:30 – Home. 30 Pack of Coors successfully achieved. Watching “30 Minute Meals…With Rachel Ray” with the sound off. Because of this, I notice that she talks entirely out of the left side of her mouth – like a stroke victim. I ponder that she always seems to have her veggies ready prepped and her cans from the pantry conveniently placed at the front of her shelves. The pots and pans have already been placed on the stovetop. All before the 30 minutes have started. I think if I had a show like that I’d give it truth in advertising: “30 Minute Meals…After I Get My Shit Together”. I become so engrossed in my fantasy that I forget that I could be watching Martin Yan, his lightning fast cleaver and his big Botoxed forehead instead. I also forget to have another sip of the wine.

7:00 – Another alcoholic fruit fly is trying to stage his own personal “Leaving Las Vegas” with my wine. I get him to stagger off my glass and into the Great Beyond. I take a healthy swig (to make up for the 6:30 tasting). The wine remains spicy on the foretaste, mellows and rounds out, and finishes with a bit of cherry.

7:30 – Not a lot of change on the flavor front. However, the nose has started to develop the same peppery tones as the flavor. Of course, I’m only one woman and I could be hallucinating.

I desire cheese.

8:00 – Discovery! This wine goes really well with Romano cheese (which was the first one I came across when foraging in my fridge). It really brings into sharp focus the salty, tangy, earthy flavors in the cheese. This wine really should be enjoyed with food. I should probably buy some.

And here our experiment comes to an end. The wine did appear to benefit from up to an hour’s worth of “breathing”. After that the effects of continued aeration seemed negligible, but I was getting buzzed and had no control to compare it to.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I Know I Was Curious

This. This is how Skynet starts:

It's 2 AM, Do You Know Where Your Icons Are?

Oh, sure it's all cute animated desktop icons beating the living shit out of each other now. But, it'll turn to searchlights, barking dogs and Terminators soon enough. Then the fate of the world will be left in the hands of the govenor of California and Edward Furlong before he gets his hands on the really good drugs. How're you supposed to save the world if you can't manage your high? Well, that's just it. You can't. You get replaced by Nick Stahl. And those animated desktop icons are just going to point and laugh, no matter how much you try to medicate the pain away. And by "medicate", I, of course, mean shoot heroin into whatever obscure orifice is in fashion these days. I hear between the toes is lovely this time of year.


Speaking of really bad movies...

Here's what I decided not to watch before I went to bed: The Breed .

Movie. So. Bad. Must. Warn. Others.

It stars Adrian Paul of "Highlander: The Series" fame as the vampire cop with a heart of gold paired up with a human cop on the hunt for a bad guy murderer vampire, in a weird nazi influenced world in the future. Like "Vampire: The Masquerade" meets "Brazil" meets "Equilibrium" all gone horribly, horribly wrong.

There is not enough beer in the world to watch this movie without doing something heinous and violent to my television.


Must go to bed. MCAS tomorrow. Joy.

Monday, May 16, 2005

This Man Will Die For All Our Sins...

...of food poisoning:

Steve, Don't Eat It!

This man was willing to see if his wife's breast milk and chocolate syrup could be a new taste sensation.

Apparently, it tastes like Yoo-Hoo.

I feel dirty.

But, he helpfully provides pictures:



Thanks to Achillesmama at Cassandra Crossing for the link. Registration for the site is through email only. If you want to join, drop me a line and I'll reference you.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

If you kill them it's bad luck...



Canadian Spider Sculpture


Me, personally? I'm not keen on spiders. But they should stay out of Mr. Scoop's way. A Bic Lighter and a can of AquaNet can entertain him for hours. And, if you throw an aerosol can of Raid into the mix? Oh... oh...Nirvana...

Friday, May 13, 2005

Because Barbie is intended to represent all women...

I submit, for your viewing pleasure, this:



It's from this site. I'm pretty sure if you look up "too much free time" in the internet dictionary you get a screen capture of this site.

I like "V" as much as the next geek with an unrequited love of the '80s and a desire to watch Marc Singer in something that isn't "Beastmaster" (although Faye Grant will never get better than she was in "The Greatest American Hero"). But, I'm not about to dress up Barbie as Diana:



Although, I did always suspect that Ken was a freak and not to be trusted (he has no genitals. How do you trust a guy with no genitals?):


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Lord, I Loves Me Some Delivery Sushi - and other brief tales


I Ordered Sushi For Dinner Because I Had No Clean Dishes.

The only other living things that share my apartment are a cactus and a Japanese fighting fish. Which probably speaks volumes about my living situation.

My fish is named Fishy. Mr. Scoop named him. Fishy is awesome. He looks like this:



On nights home alone, I like to get delivery sushi and eat it in from of my fish - just watch him swim to the front of the tank, looking as perplexed as he can muster: "That's not right! I smell death!!!!!"

I also used to like to hold my mother's adopted feral cat down and pin it's paws while I tickled its tummy. He didn't like that much either. Sadly, adopted feral cat was eventually eaten by coyotes. Apparently, my methods did not prepare him for defense against the big bad things in life; it just made him crazy and anti-social. Have I mentioned how I probably shouldn't have kids?

I'd say something pithy here about the cactus, but despite my best efforts to kill it the damn thing lives - and has been for about three years. I got it as a gift at a family Christmas party. It was in the "holiday grab bag". Who in Christ thinks it's a good idea to put a cactus in a grab bag? Is it any wonder I don't visit my family often?

Highlight Of My Day:

Getting my kids to sensitively discuss the mock accident staged by students involved in Students Against Drunk Driving, how it affected them, the tragedy of losing life senselessly to substance abuse...while I was actively, hideously hungover.

Final Thoughts:

Some of you may remember my musings about karaoke in the home . Well, now my home is equipped with a microphone and an amplifier.

Be afraid, elderly neighbors. Be very afraid.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

86'd - And Mondays at the Cantab roll to a close.

The management of the Cantab Lounge made the decision this week to 86 the Monday Comedy Showcase. The Cantab has been notoriously fickle about keeping comedy acts on the bill for any period of time. The Monday show lasted for a year. I was on board as host for about 9 months of it and, although I'm sad it's done, I enjoyed every second I was involved with it. My extremely hearfelt thanks goes out to the following:

- the management of the Cantab for giving us free reign to run the kind of show we wanted to for the duration of the showcases, for the free beers, for letting us try Richie's drink experiements with Butterscotch Schnapps and/or grape juice, for putting up with the occasional ice cube hurled at a performer by another performer who probably should've known better, for the excellent Bob Ross inspired art work that hung in our background on stage, for providing a sympathetic ear when I needed to vent, for locking down the room after a show during the Red Sox playoff series with the Yankees and letting everyone remaining bond over beer, illicit cigarettes and being a part of Red Sox nation, and finally for, ultimately, everything. I got the opportunity to watch a lot of really promising acts develop and strengthen their sets a tremendous amount. The hosting challenge made me grow as a writer (because, really, how often can an audience watch me beat a microphone into my head for comedic effect?). I look forward to seeing where the acts who came down to participate in the show go.

- the comics who participated in the shows. There are a lot of acts I'd like to thank individually, probably more than I have room for here - and inevitably I'd forget somebody, so screw it - if you came down and performed -thank you. There were some really great acts that came out week after week with great new material. You helped keep the show alive and vital. Keep on keeping on. I would like to take this space to thank the last group that came out for the May show: Yaq Andrew, Ku, Daniella Capolino, Danny Hirsch, Myq Kaplan, JJ Leslie, Ken Reid, Rob Reuter, and Derek Gerry.

- the civilians in the audience. Thanks for coming out on a Monday and supporting the show. Thank you for your laughter. Please keep supporting the local comedy scene. There's a whole weird, funny world out there.

- Derek Gerry for scoring the room and starting it in the first place. Selling me his equipment to keep it going. Coming back to support the show after he re-relocated.

- Richie and Judy. Y'all are God's gift to bartending. Two more decent human beings have never existed. And let me have a bar tab.

- Rob Reuter. For his brutal honesty, feedback and support. Plus, he was tall enough to help me hang the lights.

Good luck to everyone involved with the show. Please keep watching this space for where a new showcase might pop up next.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Ambushed By Soup

Sometimes you try to leave. Sometimes you get ambushed by soup.

Dateline - Chinatown. Mother's Day, 2005.

I love my mother but I'm broke.

I want to take her out to celebrate her special day. Where can I get a wide variety of cool, flavorful items on the table to excite our senses, fill our bellies for cheap and still be the "impressive daughter"? If you answered a Dim Sum joint in Chinatown, you'd be correct.

Like tapas without the bar tab, dim sum provides the opportunity to eat a whole bunch of tasty, yet mostly unfamiliar items to the adventurous diner - if you do it right. If you do it wrong, you'll be full three rounds in on glutinous rice, steamed assorted shu mai, and steamed buns. Tasty, sure. But I watched some bint on the Food Network try to convince me that she could create bao buns out of Pilsbury Whack-A-Biscuit dough in the tube and Panda Express boneless spareribs. That took the danger right out of it for me.

No, to really feel you're doing it right, you need to be surrounded by a lot of folks who don't look like you and really aren't speaking your language on a crowded Sunday around noon. Carts will come whizzing by. Pushy attendents will try to convince you that you want the contents of these carts. I secretly suspect they may work on commission, or some greater threat: "You will move 500 units of BBQ pork buns or we will not bring your daughter over from the mainland. Isn't capitalism grand?"

But you have to look past the familiar to get the good stuff. Using a combination of eye contact, lack of eye contact, pointing, a brief game of "What ticket? You have to stamp my ticket? I didn't order that. Oh, that. Yeah, I ordered that.", and a trip to the buffet of weird and esoteric stuff at the front of the room, Mom and I amassed a set of nine dishes that ranged from safe to somewhat frightening, and yet yummy.

We opened with a set of two dishes: mussels "au gratin" and salt and pepper wok flashed shrimp. The mussels were very non-Asian. They were on the half shell and covered with a white sauce with Parmesean cheese. Not particularly Chinese, although flavorful. The shrimp, on the other hand, came fresh from the kitchen in their shells with the heads on, coated in salt and pepper and on a bed on garlic and hot peppers. Tasty, cripsy and you get the added bonus of looking into their beady little eyes as you bite their heads off. Excellent.

Next up was a braised dish identified as "short ribs" in a garlic and bell pepper sauce, although the very tiny ribs seemed more like knuckles of some sort. Yummy knuckles, but, well, knuckles. We also got steamed shrimp dumplings. Good, and what you'd expect. Like a delicate, puffy ravioli of shrimp. The weird dish of the group was a meatball of shrimp and pork stuffed into a vegetable that looked vaguely like a sea cucumber, but appeared to be in the plant family upon tasting. It was green, melon like and bitter. We enjoyed it for its novelty.

As we tried to decide what to do next, we got a fried shrimp patty coated in shredded taro root. Taro is sweeter than potato and holds up to sitting around after frying better than potato. It complements the shrimp nicely, especially when dipped in hot bean paste.

Then Mom makes a break for the buffet at the front. She returns with ginger and garlic braised tripe and baby clams in garlic and black bean sauce. The clams were magnificent. Very briny and small enough that you can just pick them up, scrape the meat out of the shells with your teeth and discard the shells into a pile - only to keep repeating until the bowl is empty and you find yourself in a fugue state babbling something about "Clams gone. Clams all gone."

The tripe could be described as off putting to the uninitiated. Ok, it can be downright freaky to the uninitiated. Heaped in a rice bowl, honeycombs of white flesh, coated in a brownish sauce flecked with green can certainly seem a bit out of the ordinary. Tripe really don't seem to have a flavor of their own. They're all about absorbing the flavor of what they're cooked with, in this case a very intense ginger and garlic sauce. They do have a very distinct texture that can be a deal breaker for the faint of heart. To those who expect items that belong, even tangentially, to the meat family to be meat-like. It's almost crunchy and the honeycombed interior of the flesh holds all the sauce it's cooked with. I like it very much. Mr. Scoop can't get past the fact that it's stomach lining. All the more for me.

As Mom and I contemplated how full we were, an odd thing happened. A waitress arrived at the table with a steaming bowl of wonton soup, garnished with bright green stalks of Chinese broccoli. This was odd for a couple of reasons: 1) We didn't order it. 2) Wait service is unusual during dim sum service at this restaurant. So our best guess was someone had ordered it at the buffet and vaguely pointed in the direction of our table, which was near their table, and we got it by mistake. Either way, after the initial shock of getting an item we didn't order wore off, we ate the soup and it was delightful. If there was ever a soup destined to cure the common cold, or possibly, cancer, this soup was it. Between the homemade chicken broth, the light, chicken filled wontons (so much better than just plain noodles) and the sweet, crunchy broccoli, the soup was a positively virtuous experience. I think it may reverse my impending liver cirrhosis. We had been ambushed by soup. And it was good.

So, Happy Mother's Day all. Get out there and eat things that make you feel good. Eat them with people you enjoy being around. Don't freak out if something comes to your table that you didn't order. It may be an unexpected treat. And you may not be charged for it.

And save me some tripe.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Wonder Twin Powers Activate!

The other day, as I was trying to gently encourage my darling children "to do their homework or face my wrath" and no they can't work together because they seem to have "working together" and "copying each others answers" confused as concepts, one young lady looked at me pleadingly and said, "But, I'm good at English and he's good at History." Before I could reply, without missing a beat, her "study buddy" (who's Ritalin seemed to be all done for the day) proceeded to leap onto his chair and pronounce, "AND TOGETHER, WE'RE AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE!", finger pointed to the sky.
"Even 'Unstoppable Forces' need to learn to work independently. Wonder Twin powers activate".

Which reminds me, the only time the Wonder Twins have ever looked even remotely menacing was when they were illustrated by Alex Ross:



In that picture, those crazy kids look like they might actually cut you or something. You know, instead of turn into a puddle of purple water and a My Pretty Pony. And Gleek there, he looks like the lab monkey who created Patient Zero in "28 Days Later".

In any case, they probably aren't copying each other's homework answers.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Steak and Leftovers

Now that you've had a few days to digest my extended description of sushi with my mother, I'll briefly wrap up the entrees:

Mom had Delmonico steak with a Madeira wine sauce. It was a very rich and flavorful cut of meat about the size of a human head. She got asparagus in hollandaise to go with. These were pencil thin and a bit on the fiberous side (a hazard of that size category). However the hollandaise was creamy and the dish came garnished with crispy leek shavings. Very nice.

I got "Steak a la Stone" which I had hoped was going to be one of those steak dishes they actually cook on a hot stone at your table. It turns out that "Steak a la Stone" is poseur speak for pepper steak - a favorite of housewives in the 70s, Rachel Ray, and prison inmates. Yes, it was a high end pepper steak, but a pepper steak nevertheless. I must learn to ask questions of my waitstaff before I order, like "Gosh, what's this entree?". I ate the steak and the veggies came home with me to add to sausage sandwiches.

The wine we had with dinner was excellent:



You can buy it here , and I strongly suggest that you do. Get a case and then try to convince your friends that they are in fact drinking something far more expensive than it actually is. It won't be hard. Toast up some baguette slices. Saute some mushrooms with a little shallot and garlic. Slather some soft goat cheese on the baguette slices and top with a dollop of the mushrooms and a grind of black pepper. Serve with a glass of this wine. Your friends will think you are a genius.

I'm a huge fan of the Central Coast vineyards. They are less well known than Napa or Sonoma, but turn out some tremendous wines - a lot of which never even make it over here to the East Coast. Because they are less well known, you can get exceptional wines for comparatively reasonable prices.

And so dinner came to an end. We did not partake of dessert or port. Instead, mom opened a fine bottle of Veuve Clicquot when we got home. It went very nicely with the evening's television entertainment: The Ron White comedy special.

Damn but we're classy.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Saturday's Meal At "Willie's Steakhouse" - Long Play version

So, I think I've finally digested the meal I had while I was out with my mother this weekend. As mentioned, the establishment served both sushi and high-end steak. So, for whatever reason, if you've ever found yourself on the receiving end of a craving for unagi maki, tako-su, Delmonico steak with a madeira sauce and asparagus with hollandaise - simultaneously - this is your place.

A rough pictoral breakdown follows:

7:15 - We arrive just in time for our reservations. We are ushered into our seats in a cramped space against a diagonal wall. The patron seated at the table across the aisle from me eerily resembles a girl I used to live with in college, seated with a guy who is clearly not her husband. Upon closer reflection and stares, she is not the girl in question: she does not squeak when she laughs. And mom makes me stop staring because it's "impolite". Stupid social conventions.

7:20 - The waitress arrives to take our drink order before I can look at the wine list. I panic and order sake. They only have hot sake. I am perplexed that a restaurant that otherwise has such an extensive wine list would only have one kind of sake. But, it's Friday and my desire for a buzz will not be stopped by a limited sake selection. I order it. The waitress cards me. I make a mental note to tell my mother to give this woman large sums of money in reward.

Sake

Mom orders a brandy and club soda. She reminds me to stop staring at the nice girl at the other table.

7:35 - Our drinks arrive. The waitress takes our appetizer and entree orders. We decide to order sushi for our appetizers and steak for our entrees.

I order:




and





My mother is addicted to soft shell crab. She gets:


Spider Maki


I order something called "Steak a la Stone" as my entree. Mom gets the Delmonico.

I'd show pictures as this point, but, well, it's steak. It looks like...steak. Except large. And covered in sauce. We'll come back to this.


8:00 - The sushi arrives. I overlook the fact that my scallop order was supposed to have been sashimi, rationalizing that extra starch will absorb more alcohol. Besides, I'm not eating the bread, despite the excellent olive oil with roasted garlic to dip into. I'm squished against a diagonal wall hoping no one drops something hot on my head; why bitch now?

My mother's order comes with 8 large (futo maki -ish...um, large...pieces) pieces. Mine comes with 2 of each. I horde. She shares. I love my mother.

Some sushi snobs will tell you that items that have been dipped in tempura and rolled in rice and seaweed are some kind of crime against sushi. Emperors in the Edo period weren't having tempura maki while they played court games! And, I'm sure the Earl of Sandwich wasn't having a Big Mac. Look, if you are at all skittish about sushi (eek! it's raw and scary!), cooked items are a perfect jumping off point. And, batter fried and rolled in rice? Well, that sounds like the dinner of champions to me.

But, seriously, if you've never had soft shell crab - try it. Crab is sweet and rich, with just a touch of the ocean. The shells of a "soft shell" crab (it's molting, yum!) are quite tender if you get them in the right season (easier than a left on shrimp shell, say). When coated in tempura batter and fried properly, the combination of savory crunch with sweetness and brine is transcendent. The best "spider" maki I ever had was in the form of an entire half crab, tempura-ed and rolled with asparagus in a cone shaped "hand roll" fresh from the fryer. This roll was close. Rolls that include tempura items need to come to the table directly from the fryer or risk getting soggy. This was fresh from the fryer and included a touch of avocado and spicy mayonaise - a common preparation. The balance of flavors was done well. The tempura was crunchy and sweet, without being greasy. The spice in the mayo sauce helped to cut the richness of the roll.

Onto the raw items. Raw items are always a little leap of faith. They must be fresh and I managed to order 2 things where I would notice immediately if that were not the case.


How can I talk you into trying fresh raw scallops?

If I tell you that when you eat them right out of the shell, they are all at once delicate, creamy, and sweet? That a touch of soy and wasabi or spicy mayo and sesame enhance those qualities to turn the experience into something almost ethereal? Or even that they taste nothing like fish?

When I was a wee chicky of 24 or so, I had cultivated a relationship with the chef at my local sushi bar to the point that I (and guests I was with, if they were amenable) would get off menu items. One such experience was my first raw scallop. He presented it to me, whole in the shell, and then proceeded to shuck it, remove the roe (someday I will try scallop roe), slice it thinly and present it back to me in the shell. I ate it while other folks at the bar and passersby to the teppan-yaki tables looked on curiously. I felt a little nervous about it, but, because of the attention, important. Because it was a definitive "first taste" experience, I can't say I've ever had anything like that before or since. So sweet. Clean. Creamy. Vital. It was alive mere seconds before. I've had a lot of good scallop since then, but trying to chase that memory is like trying to relive a first kiss. Often your first can be your everything.

Uni is a more risky proposition.

They call it roe. Actually, uni is the gonads of the sea urchin. The whole thing. Sorry, no poetry there. Scoop, dump, serve. Avoid the needles on the shell.

However, in terms of complexity of flavor, uni ranks up there with such full flavor delight as "tomalley", lobster liver. But, it exceeds it in sweetness and balance. To taste perfectly fresh uni is to taste a perfect day by the sea: a lung full of fresh sea air, just as the tides change, after a full day on the beach, right before sunset somehow. A mouthful of high quality, fresh uni is everything that is good about a summer's day on the ocean. No soy or wasabi required.

A mouthful of off uni is kitty litter.

Fortunately, this uni was everything I could've hoped for. And the house hot sake went with it perfectly. What more could I want?


Now, this is getting a bit lengthy.


And I have children to work with in the morning.

I will finish the remainder of the story tomorrow. I need to be fresh to discuss the minutiae of "To Kill A Mockingbird" and "Harry Potter" tommorow ("Harry Potter" seemed like a way to lighten the mood after "Night"...).

Tonight, I would like to commend the fine folks in Spain who created Codice ; this fine red blend I'm drinking. Wine Spectator gave it an 87 and it costs $9.99. And when you eat it with a good quality swiss cheese, it has chocolate notes.

Check back tomorrow for the red meat portion of the proceedings and subsequent champagne abuse.


Sunday, May 01, 2005

Well, This May Be a WMD In The Wrong Hands...

...or digestive tracks:

School Mistakes Huge Burrito for a Weapon

A young kid was seen bringing a long, suspicious, wrapped package into school causing the school to go into lockdown.

Insert your favorite dick joke here ("Well, at least he remembered to wrap his package!") .

Oh, I slay me.

Now, I'm not sure how to feel about this. School safety is paramount in this day and age. But, it turns out that not only was it a gi-normous burrito, it was also supposed to be some kind of school project. Parents yanked 75 kids out of school in the ensuing panic.

This poor kid, in addition to now being called "Burrito Boy" for the rest of his life, now has the added trauma of knowing that his attempt at cooking was so unrecognizable that someone had to call in SWAT. That's gotta scar you on some level. Or it means he'll be hired directly after he graduates to work in the cafeteria.