Tuesday, August 29, 2006

One Down, One Hundred Seventy-Nine To Go

Well, today was the first day back to school for my students. It was very nice to see how lively they all were. Period 6 was so lively that I implemented a rigid seating plan with them about 10 minutes into class and saddled them with a chapter and reading questions to answer for homework. I think it's important to break their spirits set the tone as early in the year as I can. I like to believe they'll thank me for it someday. I expect my reward will probably be in the next Happy Meal I order.

I'm finding myself amazed at how young looking the new additions to the building are each year. And not just the freshmen. We've hired a lot of folks that must just be fresh out of college, because they barely look older than some of the seniors. Let's just say that asking someone for a pass while on lav duty and discovering that the passless individual isn't insubordinate, just employed is a little awkward for everyone.

This first week is pretty easy sailing. No one is going to get hit with an overabundance of hardcore assignments with the Labor Day weekend approaching...except maybe my period 6 class. Hell, a good chunk of kids will probably leave early for the long weekend, keeping early school year rambunctious-ness to a minimum. And, before we know it, we'll switch out of Daylight Savings Time back to "normal", the loss of an hour's sleep further draining the life out of all of us. Per. 6 will settle down to a merry simmer and I'll probably stop grinding my teeth at night.

Probably.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

And Another Thing...

I'd also like to take a minute to give a big shout out to the Department of Defense. Thanks for stopping by to visit this humble blog.




I'm fairly certain you're here for the humorous writings about my mundane existance, because clearly I'm too shitfaced to be a terrorist.
















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Friday, August 25, 2006

Beta


So, I just upgraded to the Beta version of Blogger. I hope that doesn't create more headaches than helpfulness.

Mr. Scoop and I are going to grab dinner in town to celebrate my last weekday of vacation. Weather permitting we are going to recreate the evening of our second date. I took him to a high end sushi joint and he took me to a dive bar. Much fun and public drunkeness was had by all.

In the meantime, here's some pictures from my statcounter that show where all the folks visiting this site are from. Big shout out to anyone who is visiting here from overseas! Thanks for making the trip.

























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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Procrastination, My Sweet



I've finally finished the last of the documentation I promised I'd write for a project I was supposed to be working on while on vacation. With one day of vacation to go.

I can't believe I blew it off for as long as I did. When I finally sat down to finish it today, it was a whopping hour and a half out of my life. Why did I put it off? Rebellion at having to work on anything, voluntarily or otherwise, during my vacation I suppose.

I always feel like such a tool whenever I put anything off. Leftover guilt from childhood, near as I can guess. When I was a kid and didn't do homework or got a bad grade in elementary school and lied to my parents about it, I'd always go to bed with a sick feeling in my stomach. Because I knew they'd find out eventually and I'd get in trouble and I wanted to please them and not be a bad kid, but I really didn't want to let anything cut into my "me" time after school got out either. Thank goodness for high school and the ability to get homework done during other classes.

Of course the problem with summer vacation is that it's all "me" time.

And, I don't know about you, but I know that whenever I finally finish something that I've been procrastinating over, I always feel an enormous sense of relief. I know things will be better for having gotten the offending piece of business done and out of the way. So why then don't I finish more items off my perpetual "To Do" list?

Here's a small sample of things I could be doing right now or could have/should have been working on at any time in recent memory:

• Doing the dishes
• Grocery shopping
• Calling my mother
• Laundry
• Taking the car to get the oil changed
• Cleaning any room in my apartment.
• Updating this blog (ok, I guess I’ve been better with that lately)
• Writing new material
• Going for a walk or engaging in some kind of exercise on a regular basis
• Keeping in touch with friends I haven’t heard from in weeks/months

And that's just ten things. I'm sure there's other stuff I'm forgetting.

Sure, as Mr. Scoop puts it, I'm on vacation. I have no obligation to do anything other than have fun and amuse myself for the duration of the time I have off. But, I know when school starts up again next week I'm going to look back at this time, when I still have all those things to do, and kick myself for not doing at least some of it.

Well, I think I'm going to go play Outlaw Golf 2 on X-Box while I contemplate all this.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Love's Labors Lost Lettuce...



I've discovered that my fridge, pantry and freezer are able to yield a plastic bag with one little romaine lettuce heart, 2 chicken breasts and 1/3 of a box of rotini.

My inclination is to do something Asian with the chicken, but the rotini rules that out. Doing something Italian with the pasta and the chicken leaves the lettuce out of the equation...and we had tortelloni last night anyway.

I decide to make a Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad. This way I can use everything up. No ingredient will be left to fester in the back of my fridge!

God, I really need to go grocery shopping...

4:10pm
To begin with, I splash some olive oil in the bottom of my salad bowl. I add to this the zest of one lemon, some red pepper flakes, 15 grinds of black pepper and 2 finely minced garlic cloves. I leave this to flavor the oil while I work on other parts of the salad.










4:14pm
I assemble the "B-team". In a bowl to be whisked together are a couple large spoonfuls of low-fat mayo (because that's what was in the fridge), a squirt of anchovy paste (not pictured), a dribble of balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, the juice of a lemon and a 1/4 teaspoon of dry mustard.







The resulting creamy goodness, plus some Pecorino Romano cheese, will be the dressing that binds all the components of the salad together.

In the meantime, it'll live in the fridge until I'm ready for it.









4:26pm
The rotini are drained and dropped, still hot, into the waiting olive oil/garlic/lemon/red pepper mixture in the salad bowl. Since I have not rinsed them, the pasta will absorb the intense flavors of the mixture into itself. The goal is to have a boldly flavored salad. Finding ways to dress each of the components seperately, but complimentarily, will help reach this goal. No one likes bland, just mayo and celery flavored pasta salad...except people who suck.

When the pasta reaches room temperature, it goes into the fridge.

4:33pm
At this point, I need to consider the chicken. I've decided to marinate it with flavors that will echo the dressings I've already created.











I know I want garlic in my marinade. My favorite way to prep it for marinades and dressings is to put it under plastic wrap and beat the hell out of it with a meat mallet. It's easier to wash the cutting board than my heavy marble mortar and pestle. And beating the hell out of something is always soul-satisfying.









I whisk together olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, anchovy paste, black pepper, lemon juice and zest and a little white wine. In go the chicken breasts for about an hour.










5:39pm
I decide to bake off the chicken in the oven, in the marinade (which will kill any chicken cooties should I want to use the marinade as part of the salad later), at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.









6:06pm



When it is done, I let it cool in it's cooking liquid to room temperature. I need to prep my lettuce anyways.







6:10pm





Turns out I had not checked my lettuce as thoroughly as I should've. It is hosting a sentient life form. Time to switch to Plan B. The first part of Plan B involves throwing the lettuce away and hoping the life forms that have bonded with it do not declare war.




6:11pm





The second part of Plan B involves finding frozen veggies that look like they could work with the salad.

I'm beginning to think making a chicken stir-fry wasn't the worst idea.


6:14pm





I leave the beans and carrots to defrost in the sink while I go out and buy booze for the evening. The chicken needs to finish cooling anyway and soggy vegetables in a salad just won't do.


6:42pm





When I return, I cut up the chicken and toss it in its cooking liquid.



6:45pm





Then I add the chicken, veggies, dressing, and cheese to the salad bowl to toss together.

It looks might we may finally eat dinner.


6:47pm





This is the resulting salad. Although it was a bit more labor and time intensive than I'd originally planned, the salad turned out to have bold lemon, garlic and cheese flavors. I think it's a keeper!


Sorry for the weird formatting shift about halfway through. Blogger decided for some reason that I couldn't use it to upload pictures around 9:30 or so. This led me to learn how to code tables on the fly. I've learned so much today!

Where's my wine, dammit...


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Monday, August 21, 2006

Ain't Nothing Like Grand Theft, Baby


Have you seen the new Coke commercial?



I think it's clever. However, it makes Mr. Scoop crave Grand Theft Auto IV like a junkie on a meth jag.

He's already purchased an X-Box 360 in sweaty anticipation.

Pray for the virtual hookers. Pray for them.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pygmalion


"Surrender monkeys!", howled Mr. Scoop. "I demand you gift me with your finest bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon!" He was on top of the table, arms flailing as he gestured toward a frightened bus boy. "You. Froggie. Bring me little cakes. And the house whore in charge of foot massage! Toute de suite!"

I looked up at him on the table. "Please come down dear...", I implored him.

He grinned down manaically at me. "I will have my little cakes. And this time they will be chocolate or...else..." He trailed off, staring out into the distance. He met his own eyes in the wall length mirror that hung above the banquettes. A steely resolve seemed to fill him as he swooped down onto the table and seized the remains of a bottle of Bordeaux. "This is for all my dead homeys!" he proclaimed to the rest of the restaurant as he poured the contents out onto the floor.

That's when security tackled him.

It was then that I realized that this was going to have to go on my debit card.


Mr. Scoop and I are very fortunate as couples go. We generally share the same interests. By interests, I mean whiskey. Generally. However, times have arisen when one of us wants to participate in an activity in which the other party may be somewhat less interested. But, as we are supportive of each other's interests, we'll give the activity a go.

That's how Mr. Scoop found himself in the upscale dining establishment, Aujourd'hui.

Aujourd'hui is located in the Boston Four Seasons Hotel. It's the kind of place that has linen table cloths, fine china and caviar on the menu. Very French. Sommeliers and head waiters abound. Exactly the kind of place Mr. Scoop wouldn't even think about eating at. Not specifically because of the pretention factor, but because it's just easier to get drunk and order pizza from the comfort of his couch. And, as nice as Aujourd'hui is, it doesn't have a high def big screen tv, 7.1 Dolby surround sound and an XBox 360 with thousands of zombies just waiting to be dealt some harshness.

However, since I asked, he said he'd go with me. Because he loves me. Despite the fact that he was going to have to wear a suit and tie, something he swore he'd never do again after he left the insurance industry for IT.

Yes.  This is a rented tux.  Why do you ask?Fortunately, Mr. Scoop cleans up nice.

I should've realized that the evening was going to go wrong when we arrived to the restaurant and the maitre d' greeted Mr. Scoop as "Mr. (*my last name*)". I'd made the reservations, after all, and most people think we're married anyway. However, it threw Mr. Scoop. He was now defensively on edge, unsure as to whether he should correct the maitre d' or quietly allow him to seat us. We were quietly seated.

As we began to peruse the wine list, trying to find a wine that had only been marked up 400%, a waiter approached the table with two pieces of eggplant roulade, each about the size of a quarter. "The chef would like to offer you an amuse bouche.. before you begin your meal", he said as he offered forth the tiny mouthfuls of eggplant. "Did he just call me a douche?", Mr. Scoop asked me. "No, dear", I said as I took the eggplant from the waiter with what I hoped would be a big enough smile to distract him from Mr. Scoop's question. "These are just little appetizers. Try one."

The sommelier pounced on us just as we were swallowing. "Can I offer you anything to drink?" We hadn't even thought that far ahead yet. I asked for a glass of single malt while I contemplated the menu. Mr. Scoop, wanting desperately to order a beer but fairly certain that this wasn't "that" kind of place, blurted out, "Merlot" hoping that the speed with which he answered would cover his growing discomfort.

When the waiter returned to take our order, we both decided on tasting menus. It seemed to be a more economical way to try a variety of dishes. Since we had booked a fairly late seating, we were beginning to get ravenously hungry and were pleased when the dishes finally began to arrive. My meal began with a creamy soup that the waiter personally poured tableside over tiny diced vegetables garnishing the bottom of the shallow bowl. Mr. Scoop's meal began with two plump, glistening raw oysters served in their shells and annointed with spoonfuls of caviar. We hungrily tucked in to our first courses. So intent was I at filling the hole in my stomach with my soup that I did not notice that Mr. Scoop, puzzled that his course should be so tiny, was investigating the white substance the oyster shells were seated on - believing it to be rice. His gagging shocked me out of my soup reverie. He had just eaten a large spoonful of what turned out to be rock salt. Every fiber of his being was screaming at him to spit it out into his napkin but it, again, not being "that" kind of place he forced himself to swallow the mouthful. He followed that with a large swallow of merlot. "The bastards are trying to kill me!" he exclaimed. "No they're not, dear. Why on earth did you eat that salt?", " I asked him. "Why on earth did they cover the bottom of the plate with something they didn't want me to eat?" he replied.

He had a point.

We were able to get through most of the remainder of the meal without incident. Until dessert. Assorted petit four glacé... Several tiny fondant covered cakes. Not a morsel of chocolate among them, Mr. Scoop discovered as he jammed his thumb into each one in a desperate attempt to find some cocoa laden goodness. Alas none was to be had.

That's when he lost it and climbed on top of the table.

I believe you know the rest of the story.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Let's Go: Hell



I'm full of scotch and hate.

Have you seen Hell's Kitchen?

The premise is: a bunch of aspiring chefs send celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay a videotape explaining why they should be on the show and he (and/or the marketing committee) selects 12 individuals that look like they would make good "reality" television. They get put through weekly trials and one will eventually win their own restaurant. This year it's in Las Vegas.

Cooking skills are apparently optional.

Now, I can handle my Wusthof about as well as any Saturday afternoon cooking enthusiast - but I'll do things that will piss purists off. If you watch me chop, my finger will be in the danger area on top of the blade. You want something pureed together? I find that a hammer and a solid cutting board will work nicely in lieu of a mortar and pestle. No, really. I don't recommend it for everyone, but it gets the job done and everything tastes good. However, I know it wouldn't fly in a restaurant kitchen.

So, in theory, I can't necessarily cast aspersions on the folks that got picked this year. That, plus I didn't even apply.

Mr. Scoop has made it very clear that auditioning for reality shows will only result in ridicule from him. He has a deep scar on his hand that he calls Dat Phan. That was a Last Comic Standing related injury.

Everytime LCS comes here, it's the dead of damn winter. People hang out in front of the building where auditions happen in the wee hours of the morning with a dream, a sleeping bag and those warming pouches you put in ski gloves. I have a job I'm supposed to be at in the morning and, for the moment, my dignity.

Mr. Scoop and I are both reasonably agreed that Last Comic Standing won't help the majority of dingbats that are standing out there shivering in the cold. Comedy competitions in general are subjective things that are nice in the moment - and, if you don't have an agent or manager, it literally is the moment.

I drunkenly threw around the idea of sending in a video of myself to Mr. Ramsay for next season. I'm already 99.9% sure I wouldn't get on. For example, although I know how to make a gastrique, I'm not inclined to create drama in the house. I'll be the one sitting quietly in the corner drinking.

I can make funny, seemingly off-the-cuff remarks, including a whole host of dick jokes, while under pressure. I can't bone out a whole chicken or filet a fish. These are shortcomings I overcome with frequent application of the grocery store staff in these parts. They pay these people minimum wage for a damn reason.

Also, Mr. Ramsay is a screamer.

I'm not so good with that.

I'm not good at being yelled at. When I was 14, I tried to join the high school marching band, because I wanted to be in rifle core. After years of amateurly tossing a baton in the air, I was more talented than the average 14 year old at spinning a pole of steel in entertaining positions. Still, the band teacher was a psycho who screamed at us daily. I was so uncoordinated that I could barely handle being told to move "right oblique" - and when I couldn't even manage that I got screamed at.

I quit before I brained the guy. I figured it was best for everyone.

I don't do being yelled at.

So, Mr. Ramsay's method of kitchen control - yelling and frightening the fuck out of his employees, probably would make me mentally retreat to age 14 and look for a field hockey team to join in lieu of band camp.

Here's the thing: If you manage to win my respect - I will follow you to the ends of the earth. You don't even have to yell at me. If I want to please you and I screw up, the worst thing you can tell me is that I've "disappointed" you. Mentally, I'll turn into an 11 year old trying to please my parents. You won't even have to raise your voice.

But tonight I watched all these...dingbats...with seemingly no management skills, or the ability to taste a dish before it goes out to the floor, work on a show that is supposedly about kitchen skills and palate. And one of those dingbats now has a restaurant in Las Vegas at Chef Ramsay's whim.

So now, much like Mr. Scoop, I have a scar of my own. I've named it Heather.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

What's Your Name, Fat-body?

10:30 AM was a hard place to be for me today.

I'd lost several thousand brain cells to various bottles of wine and 95 minutes of my life to The Descent. I'm never going to get any of that back and I woke up with a hangover to boot.

I'd been hearing good things about the movie, but about a half hour in it was apparent that it was less about "Girl Power Fights The (Bat)Man" and more about "Whiny, Unredeemable Bitches Get Eaten By The Morlocks". Frankly, by the end, I was happy that they all died horribly.

That meant I could sleep.

It made me want to watch Cabin Fever all over again just so I could remember what a good little backwoods sleeper hit horror movie was like all over again. Before the horror that was Hostel.

My day did not find an event horizon from its blackhole of alcohol damage until I saw Alton Brown's new miniseries, Feasting On Asphalt. Not only did he eat brains in this particular episode - which, yes, was more horrifying than the entirety.. of "The Descent" - but he ended the episode with a trip to a frozen custard place that whips up a delicacy that is so icy stiff that you can hold the container upside down and nothing falls out. The restaurant is Ted Drewes. It's in St. Louis, Missouri. Someday, I will eat there.

In the meantime, Mr. Scoop and I had to content ourselves with the local ice cream parlor. We'd never eaten there, but it was on the way to the comic book store and that was enough to recommend it. Plus, the hangover was demanding a sacrifice of chocolate and sugar to sate the evil minions in the serotonin department of our brains. It had been a very long day of sitting on the couch wishing for death and we were going to need an extra boost to get us in fighting trim for tonight's drinking.

Lizzy's is nestled between a "gourmet pottery store" and some other hole in the wall establishment, I think it's a novelty t-shirt place, on the long stretch that is Moody Street. Moody Street is home to several excellent restaurants, martial arts store fronts that offer sales of edged weapons, a laundromat, and an adult bookstore cum "toy shop". The bookstore offers a 10% discount to students.

Mr. Scoop and I both opted for medium sized brownie sundaes with all the fixings. I had pistachio ice cream on mine. He had an ice cream that was titled "Chocolate Orgy". Mr. Scoop feels that any dessert that is not 100% chocolate is suffering from bullshit posturing. When I pointed out that, sometimes, I like other things with my chocolate he countered that "chocolate chips were 'other things'. Chocolate things.. that deserve to be reunited with their chocolate brethren."

As we staggered out of the shop with a full chocolate buzz in effect, my stomach was already trying to have a covert discussion with my brain:

Stomach: "What the hell are you trying to do to me, man?"

Brain: "Shut up, dude. Just take it. Take it!"

While my stomach and brain were beginning to bandy about terms like "fugue state" and "diabetic coma", we were greeted with the unexpected sight of several Marine recruits - led by a flag bearer - jogging up Moody Street with a Sergeant singing/yelling some cadence to them that they were shouting back all sing-song in time. "I-don't-know. But-I-been-told. Big-legged-women-ain't-got-no-soul. Sound off. 1-2. Sound off. 3-4. 1-2-3-4-1-2-Go-Zep !"

All they needed was a mud shark to make the recruits' humiliation complete.

It was one of the more bizarre things I've ever seen.

Hell, it gave me the energy to start drinking again this evening.

That and the chocolate.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Rosé Outlook


If you asked me to go shoe shopping with you, I'd say yes.

However, the first thing I would do when I got you alone near a pair of spike-y Manolo Blahniks is to drive a stilleto heel into your eye. As security dragged me out kicking and screaming, I'd claim I was high from huffing Chanel No. 5 perfume at the make-up counter and that I couldn't really account for my actions.

I guess I'm just not very girly.

But, I do loves me some good pink champagne.

Ok, technically it's really "Rosé". It's pinkish because of dark pigments from the grape skins and not from Red Dye No. 5 (which will also allow you to allege that you can't account for your actions if you huff enough of it...or so I've been told).

This evening's Brut Rosé is Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé Maison Vitteaut-Alberti (the site has frames, so just click on the appropriate booze link). It is very dry, with a little hint of vanilla and a whole lot of bubble. It went very well with the contents of my refrigerator, as tonight was "nuke the leftovers night" here at Chez Scoop. Wine should serve two purposes - to heighten the dining experience and get you buzzed. This is filling both roles admirably.

It was the last bottle in the store too. When I asked the nice man in the store if this was the last one, he said that as far as he knew it was. Then he tried to talk me into buying a $50 bottle of Champagne sitting next to this one. Turns out he didn't work for the store, but was a liquor rep checking his products out as he was passing through. So he didn't really work there. And apparently, he didn't seem to care that he was trying to talk a store patron who was wearing cut-off jeans, sneakers and an "Arkham Asylum Athletic Dept." t-shirt into spending two and a half times more on a bottle of booze than what she was willing to spend.

So, I stabbed him in the eye with the broken end of the $50 bottle of wine and, when security dragged me out of the store kicking and screaming, claimed I was high from huffing blue cheese fumes from the tasting in the back and couldn't account for my actions.

I'm just not very girly.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

So, You've Got Thousands Of Dollars You'd Like To Capriciously Spend...On Me...


Apparently "forever" has been over-rated


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Diamonds are no longer a girl's best friend, according to a new U.S. study that found three of four women would prefer a new plasma TV to a diamond necklace.


Well. Duh.

But then I'm a big fan of electronics as gifts over jewelry. I can wear a pretty pair of earrings or a necklace on nice occasions. I can enjoy 6.1 DTS surround sound on a larger than life DLP screen on a daily basis. And, yeah, I said DLP. That shit'll last forever. Plasma will burn out in 10 years. I'm talking value for money. If you can't sort out your electronics before you gift them to me, you may as well just buy me the damn diamond.

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