Monday, August 31, 2009

Movie Mania Monday - The correct term is 'chicken-lover'

Yet again, please cast your ovation and recognize the fame of Courtney (aka Whiskey Girl), who has correctly identified last week's quote from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, giving her three wins in a row and the title of Iron Quote-Guesser!

New week, new contest. Remember the rules. First person to guess correctly the original source of the quote wins a prize - no movie characters quoting other movies. The prize consists of the people's ovation and fame forever (and the title of Iron Quote-Guesser), but if you give me creative, inexpensive and generally humorous ideas, that may change. This week's quote:

Oh, I've been to Prague. Well, I haven't "been to Prague" been to Prague, but I know that thing, that, "Stop shaving your armpits, read the Unbearable Lightness of Being, date a sculptor, now I know how bad American coffee is thing... "

Allez guessing! I'm done dropping hints in the body of the post, too, that seems to make it too easy for some of you.

And go check out last Thursday, we're stepping up the game a bit for anyone who finds Movie Mania Monday too mundane Nobody's even accomplished the first half of that one without Google or Bing or whatnot.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Not shaping up to be the best of days, can you tell?

Fun Fact Friday - Don't know why...

...there's no sun up in the sky...stormy weather?

Not that our rainy season needs any assistance here in Florida, but I thought I'd check out cloud seeding anyway. I know it happens, I just never knew just how it worked.
There have been other attempts to alter the weather throughout history. Heck, even Richard Pryor tried his hand at it.
But really, what we're talking about here is an attempt to plan for rain scientifically. First developed in 1946, sometimes clouds are seeded simply in an effort to make it rain (...sorry, rap video strip club will pass...) when rain is otherwise scarce. Other times, especially in modern times, foreign nations seed clouds in an attempt to make it rain sooner rather than later, or to keep fog and hail at bay around airports. When a special event, like the Olympic opening ceremonies in Bejing, could potentially be ruined by rain, China seeded clouds during the week before the event so the skies are just too pooped to rain the day of the event.
Things I like about cloud seeding: First, Dr. Bernard Vonnegut developed the use of silver iodide for cloud seeding, the most popular chemical used in the process. Bernie is Kurt Vonnegut Jr's late brother, and I love me some Vonnegut.
Second, cloud seeding is rife with conspiracy theories. During the Vietnam conflict, U.S. forces seeded the clouds over the Ho Chi Minh trail to extend the monsoon season another month. Funny how at nearly the same time, it rained the entire week of the original Woodstock Festival, 40 years ago. There were some who claimed to see government planes seeding the clouds above Max Yasgur's farm. Of course, there was rumored to be some drug use at said farm that weekend, too, so it probably serves those damn dirty hippies right.
Even today, conspiracy theorists think the cloud seeding is a cover-up for chemtrails, a not-so-secret attempt to control populations by poisoning large sections of the planet. These are, of course, the same people who believe some of the 'clouds' we see are actually supernatural beings sent to eat the chemtrails. (Google 'Sylph' and see what you get!)
Finally, there is the humor at other peoples' expense. While rare in the U.S., cloud seeding is still common practice in Russia and China. Last year, a Russian fleet was seeding clouds with silver iodide and cement powder. Apparently the cement didn't disperse as planned, and a 20-pound chunk of concrete fell through the roof of a rural home. Dumb, dumb chicken little!
On a completely unrelated note, I tried using Blogger's newest editor to post this, and it took WAAAAY too long to piece this together. Call me a creature of habit, I guess.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Random Acts of Thursday - Fahrenheit or Celsius?

I don't know that I buy into the 'six degrees of separation' that supposedly connect everyone on this planet. It's plausible, and given the number of times I run into people I know in out-of-the-way places, even likely. Even I, a lowly tech nerd, am a mere five degrees from the Kevster himself. Kevin Bacon aside (mmm...bacon....), I have decided to expand on the premise of Movie Mania Monday and wrack your brains a little harder as the week wanes on. Keep them synapses firing, maybe fewer of them will die in a beer-related mishap over the weekend.

Several weeks ago, my headline read:

"What is best in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women! Oh, and maybe a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They're so perky, I love that."

This was a spoken portmanteau, a combination of quotes from two movies. The speakers of the two halves of this quote have another little something in common, and your dual task today is to:

a) Identify the movies from each half of the quote and...AND

b) Identify the common link between them

Good times. If you have to use Gargle or some other search engine, be honest and say so in your answer. Much better if you don't have to do so, I don't think I'm being that obscure. (i.e. both films hired Steven 'Red' Sauce as their key grip...I wouldn't do that to you.)

UPDATE!!!  My dear wife Lori has informed me that there is a second possible link between the two actors, upping your chance of getting the correct answer, if you can only figure out both films.  Apparently we're a house divided, too, because she Bing'd the answer. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I am the king of bad ideas

And it's good to be the king.

Thankfully, I am not the king of followthrough.

The first car I ever lusted after was a '69 Cutlass. I actually had my first crush in Kindergarten on a girl named Tina because her mother dropped her off at school every day in that Cutlass, and my five-year-old brain was capable of discerning that if Tina were my girlfriend, her mother would most certainly drive me places in that car. There was also a yellow '70 Rallye 350 that rumbled through the alley behind our house every day, and I was smitten with the body style. My father drove Oldsmobiles for the first 11 years of my life, so I had plenty of time at the dealership to see more and more of these rockets on wheels.

Now, as my readers know, I already have a project sitting at home in the way of a two-ton Steelcase desk. This does not mean I can't want another project, one that is nearly attainable. Like the desk, I have discovered another nearly-attainable Craigslist find: a 69 Cutlass that is just begging me to bring her home.
On a trailer.

But I can see the potential. Can't you?
And that potential is lucky I don't have $600 burning a hole in my pocket.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In-Flight and Inexplicable

I travel a bit for work, and since both of our families are in Wisconsin, we travel a few times a year to visit them, too. As such, I log quite a few air miles every year, and despite having a Sony reader along with an extensive physical library of favorites, I still wind up reading SkyMall.

Because how can you not?

I know their game. "These people are trapped in a pressurized metal tube (not Michael Jackson's decompression chamber, in case you were wondering), they're breathing the recirculated expulsions of 200 other passengers, and they're in the most uncomfortable seats in the world. Let's sell them shit they'd never buy at ground-level!"

Really. Some of the worst products I've ever seen, I've seen in SkyMall. Don't get me wrong, one of my favorite Christmas presents came from SkyMall, and now I never have to turn around three blocks from home to see if I closed the garage door. If I forget, it shuts itself.

This does not mean I, or anyone else, needs any of the following:

For a mere $59.95, SkyMall will send you a Q-Tip so you can swab your dog and send it (the swab, not the dog) to "a professional laboratory" for analysis. They'll compare the makeup of your dog's DNA against the 63 pure breeds they have in their computer to tell you exactly when your dog will develop some debilitating doggy disability. Oh, and they can help get your dog out of jail if he's ever accused of killing doggy Nicole Brown and doggy Ron Goldman.
The Mademoiselle Floor Lamp
Robert Palmer's estate called, they'd like their lamp back. You too, can flash back to 1985, fake Ferarris and pastel-colored blazers with this thing for a mere $375 (plus additional shipping and handling). Part of what kills me about this are the suggestions for additional items you might like when you search for this on the website: A suit of armor? An elephant-head wall sconce? The Ed Gein do-it-yourself lampshade kit?
'POOF' Toilet Deodorizing Drops
This is a classic SkyMall item, but even they realize that no amount of oxygen deprivation and $8 shots of Canadian Club will make sane travelers buy this and they've pulled it from their website. The description indicates it was created for the 'sophisticated and bathroom-conscious', I think it was created by someone who really, REALLY wanted to convince everyone that their shit really didn't stink. Who buys this stuff?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Movie Mania Monday, pilgrim!

Once again, please cast your ovation and recognize the fame of Iron Quote-Guesser Courtney, who correctly identified last week's quote from Monty Python's Meaning of Life. Two in a row! At this rate, my whiskey budget is going to suffer. Huzzah!

New week, new contest. Remember the rules. First person to guess correctly the original source of the quote wins a prize - no movie characters quoting other movies. The prize consists of the people's ovation and fame forever (and maybe the title of Iron Quote-Guesser), but if you give me creative, inexpensive and generally humorous ideas, that may change. This week's quote:

You got a choice, Dishwasher. Either you get out of town, or tonight you be out on that street alone. You be there, and don't make us come and get you.
Go west, old man, and grow young with the country. Venture a guess!

Of course, there is still an unresolved quote from Thursday, so get crackin' there, too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dinnertime - Chicken Gremolata

Ever on the quest for quick, simple meals that still qualify as comfort food, this week's recipe brought back memories of the Gasthaus in Waukesha, WI, with their wiener schnitzel. (A la holstein? Yes, please!)

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp flour
2 Cups panko breadcrumbs
butter and oil for frying

Equal measures of:
Flatleaf parsley
lemon zest

Split the chicken breasts on the flat as though you were going to butterfly them, but you want to end up with two individual cutlets rather than one large piece of chicken. Toss in the flour and then press into the panko.

Over medium-high heat, saute chicken two cutlets at a time in vegetable oil, adding a pat of butter near the end to turn the panko golden. Add to a baking dish in a low (180-degree) oven until finished cooking all chicken. Reserve the pan.

Make your gremolata by finely chopping equal parts flatleaf parsley, garlic and lemon zest. I tried this in the Magic Bullet, not my finest product. Still had to chop everything by hand.

Cook 8 ounces angel hair or other pasta until al dente, then drain and return to pan. Mix in one tablespoon of gremolata and one tablespoon of butter.

Reheat the saute pan and toast the remaining panko. Deglaze the pan with the juice of one lemon and toss with the angel hair. Remove chicken from the oven and plate with angel hair, and sprinkle the chicken with gremolata.

When the legend becomes truth, print the legend

Some of you have discerned, or outright read, that I am an erstwhile novelist. Given my drive for follow-through, I started the concept of my first novel back in college, and I have about 100 pages of what once was genius, and has since degraded in my mind into insane drivel. The one constant, and one that seems to get me some odd looks from time to time, is the 'microcows' tag on all of my various web identities (just look up! There it is!).

In 1996, I attempted to dramatize the idea that standard cattle are a burden on the planet. However, I would never suggest we stop raising beef or dairy cattle, because steak, butter and cheese are some of the finest gifts we've received from the food gods. Instead, I figured if we could raise smaller animals, spaniel-sized cows, and each family would get just the amount of milk they could consume in a day. In the third-world absence of refrigeration, a cow could feed a village for a day, but nothing would go to waste.

Of course, in 1996, the Information Superhighway was Google-free, and was really just an Information Two-Lane Paved Road, with a few strip clubs and Ask Jeeves bordering the gravel shoulders. Now, in the knowledge overload of 2009 Internetitude, I can look up anything and find 200 relevant videos on YouTube, including the Jack-in-the-Box commercial I witnessed this morning:

Of course, after this added a little joy to my morning - sorrow-laden, but joy all the same - I saw there was actual, documented proof that microcows really exist, they're not just a Castro-related myth:

Sorry I can't figure out how to embed the videos here for your enjoyment, but please follow the links, at least the first one. I'm just going to go be sad that I missed my opportunity to be cutting-edge while I'm mowing my lawn.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I guess that only proves that I'm insane

The joy of weather is that if you don't like it, give it a minute and it will change. Despite the beautiful drive to work yesterday, it was a rather moist, windshield-free ride home. Even stopping under cover to wait for the storm to pass didn't help, because I'd just catch up to it again. I was a bit damp by the time I pulled in my driveway.

But it was still a great ride.

I have to share some fun things from my newest friends at International Bacon Day, because bacon is our friend. In any language.

Bacon in Many Languages
English - Can I have some Bacon?
Dutch - Kan ik wat Bacon hebben?
French - Est-ce que je peux prendre du lard ?
German - Kann ich etwas Speck haben?
Greek - Μπορώ να έχω κάποιο μπέϊκον;
Italian - Posso avere certa pancetta affumicata?J
apanese - 私はベーコンを食べてもいいか。
Korean - 나는 약간 베이컨이 있어서 좋은가?
Portuguese - Posso eu ter algum bacon?
Russian - Могу я иметь некоторый бекон?
Spanish - ¿Puedo tener un poco de tocino?

Also, while I have not always been a big fan of true love, I did finally find mine. Some day, I'll get around to posting my former opinion of the big TL, 'Just Another Fairy-Tale Notion'. However, true love does mean that you can joke about it a little. Check out The Oatmeal's "Six Reasons Bacon is Better Than True Love", and maybe take the quiz to see if your loved ones are just fattening you up to eat you.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Something so glorious I'm actually quoting Travolta

I'm having a good day, on the whole. I brought Ruby to work this morning, purring all the way, and didn't even hit any nasty potholes or get cut off by oblivious texters. I made a number of lights so I wasn't sitting motionless above a hot engine too many times.

Work didn't completely suck this morning, and I had one of those rare feelings of work-related adequacy.

Then, high point of the day, I went to lunch and ate my barbecue pork sandwich WHILE READING A NEWS ARTICLE ABOUT BACON! And sure, it's Pulp-Fiction-Travolta, but still, Travolta all the same:

"Bacon tastes gooooood. Pork chops taste goooood."

This is nothing compared to the list compiled by the Royal Bacon Society, the Top 10 Homer Simpson Quotes about Bacon:
  1. “(Lisa) “I’m going to become a vegetarian” (Homer) “Does that mean you’re not going to eat any pork?” “Yes” “Bacon?” “Yes Dad” Ham?” “Dad all those meats come from the same animal” “Right Lisa, some wonderful, magical animal!”"
  2. “Porkchops and bacon, my two favorite animals.”
  3. “When you’re in my house you shall do as I do and believe who I believe in. So Bart butter up that bacon, boy.”
  4. “Is it Bacon Day?”
  5. “Mmmm. Move over, eggs. Bacon just got a new best friend - fudge.”
  6. “Not again! First you took away my Philly Fudgesteak. And then my Bacon Balls. Then my Whatchamachicken. You monster!”
  7. (Homer): I’ll have the smiley face breakfast special. Uhh, but could you add a bacon nose? Plus bacon hair, bacon mustache, five o’clock shadow made of bacon bits and a bacon body.(Waitress): How about I just shove a pig down your throat? [Homer looks excited] (Waitress): I was kidding. (Homer): Fine, but the bacon man lives in a bacon house! (Waitress): No he doesn’t!
  8. “[strained] You know that feeling you get when a thousand knives of fire are stabbing you in the heart? I’m having that right now…[normal] Ooh, bacon!”
  9. “Mmm … bacon”
  10. “Mmm … unexplained bacon”
Number 8 is my favorite.
The article, adopted from the Foat Wuth Stah Telegram, indicated there is actually a Texas grocer with 15 different bacons in stock. Wisconsin, West Virginia, Iowa and Texas bacon, bacon smoked with all manner of wood and wood-alternatives (i.e. corn cobs) and the Vosges Mo's Bacon Bar, a chocolate-bacon candy bar I'm sure is worth every penny of the $7 it costs.

Mark your calendars, September 5th is International Bacon Day! You still have time to rush out and buy me this for an IBD present!

Fun Fact Friday - Lederhosen on Ice

We have a pair of maintenance guys at our office. I finally asked someone their real names, since it seemed wrong for everyone to keep calling them Frick and Frack. However, any time I hear these nonsensical names, I have to wonder where it originated.

Frick and Frack were, apparently, were comedic Swiss ice skaters. Just the term 'comedic Swiss ice skaters' is enough to make me giggle. It's a manly giggle, really. Like Homer. They started skating in the U.S. as a team in 1937, Werner Groebli as Frick, and Hans Rudolf Mauch as Frack, the two skated together for more than 20 years before Frack was forced to retire.
Even better, their signature moves, the cantilever spread-eagle and the rubber legs, sound like thinly veiled euphemisms.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Random Acts of Thursday

I was learning useless things this morning, while eating my lunch at 9:15, one of which is that such lovely sandwiches as the one pictured above (Tankatsu-Sando, or fried pork sandwich) truly exist in the world. Which got me to thinking about umami, the 'fifth taste', or meatiness, and how joyous it is. I get that odd tickle at the back of my throat just looking at this sandwich, memories of frittered pork of days gone by.

Iowa, being the land of all things porky and divine, was home to what was likely the best pork tenderloin sandwich I ever had on a bad road trip. We went to pick up Buttercup in the middle of nowhere, and how can you pass up a tiny roadside restaurant, especially when our friends already insisted they would never again return to Iowa. Good stuff. Good, good stuff. You can see the pictures in my MySpace album, if you're so inclined.

There is, any time I eat such things, a tingling of physical joy in my medulla oblongata that I cannot explain. Like the tickle one gets while swinging on a park swing, right before someone attempts to underdog you and takes a laden swing to the head.

And yes, I had to include a picture of the brain and all of its lovely braininess, just so you could tell exactly where the medulla oblongata resides, not mistaking it for the angular gyrus.

Speaking of the facets of the brain, it's time for your bonus movie quote of the week, since Courtney knocked out Monday's quote in minutes flat and we still have four more days until the next Movie Mania Monday:

I stand on the hill, not for a thrill,
but for the breath of a fresh kill.
Never mind the man who contemplates
doin' away with license plates.
He stands alone, anyhow, bakin' the cookies of discontent
by the heat of the laundromat vent.
Leavin' his soul…and partin' the waters of the
medulla oblongata of - -brrrrrr! - -mankind!

Guess away, the prizes are endless and highly envied!

Of course, at mention of the angular gyrus, I'm made to reminisce about another sandwich favorite, and am so glad we found two quite adequate replacements for Yanni's gyros back in Wisconsin. Romano's grates the onions finely, so they're not trailing about when I take my too-big bites.

I was watching Top Chef Masters last night, and the most brilliant concept for a four-course meal was spread before me. A meal based on memories, on those stand-out moments in the culinary lives of these chefs, and I had to look back. What was my first prominent food memory? I remember little of our trip to Colorado in 1975, other than falling in the Cripple Creek while panning gold. I remember our neighbors hosting a pig roast every year, moist, salty crackling pork, with sauerkraut and white potatoes laden with the drippings. I remember my first taste of blood-rare beef, in Quebec City at age 10.

Food really is an adventure for me, I never want to be bored with it, there are so many exciting places to go in this world and when I get there, I want something I can't eat anywhere else.

I'm actually misty (and semi-tumescent) at the thought of these things. What kinds of memories have guided you in life? What first triggered you to do what you wanted to do with your life (or still want to do?)

Oh, and lastly, I must thank Mjenks the Indefatigable for posting the following photo. I wonder if they come in a boy version? I may have to get a pair nonetheless.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Movie Mania Monday - a fish, a fish, a fishy-o!

First and foremost, please make certain to cast your ovation and recognize the fame of Courtney, who correctly identified last week's quote from the original Hairspray. A toast. Huzzah!
New week, new contest. Remember the rules. First person to guess correctly the original source of the quote wins a prize - no movie characters quoting other movies. The prize consists of the people's ovation and fame forever (and maybe the title of Iron Quote-Guesser), but if you give me creative, inexpensive and generally humorous ideas, that may change. This week's quote:

"Can I just ask, with reference to your second point, when you say souls don't develop because people become, has anyone noticed that building there before?"

Don't stand there gawping, like you've never seen the hand of God before! Just venture a guess!

Oh, and if you wind up at any dinner parties this week, don't eat the mousse. Just sayin.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dinnertime - It's not easy being green

Sometimes I worry about my food. Okay, I always worry about the meals I share with you, my faithful reader. I decided that as I look across all the pictures, my meals are surprisingly monochromatic. Yes, many delicious foods are reddish-brown (bacon, for example) but I wanted to think outside the little reddish-brown box. It's important to me, too, that I create meals that you can recreate with minimal effort. I love long, complicated recipes that I can use to challenge myself, but if all I wrote down were those, you'd never believe me when I tell you that anyone can cook.

As such, I bring you Crab in Green Thai Curry. In your blender or food processor, combine:

2 tbsp galangal
1/2 cup basil
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
1 tbsp coriander seed
1 tbsp green curry paste
1 cup chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 serrano pepper
1 large tomatillo
1 tbsp fish sauce

Blend until smooth. You may need to add a small amount of water to the blender to get things started.

In a large skillet, add another cup of onion, 1 serrano pepper and another tomatillo, chopped to one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once soft, break up and add a stalk of lemon grass, and add 1 pound canned crab (four cans). You can certainly splurge and buy the beautiful lump crab, I'm trying to stay on a budget and four ounces of lump crab costs as much as a full pound of the canned, fine flaky crab. I'll save the expensive stuff for crab cakes.

Add the curry sauce, salt and pepper to the skillet and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 8 ounces of coconut milk and the zest and juice of one lime to the pan, and simmer for another five. Remove the lemon grass before serving over steamed jasmine rice, and top with steamed fresh spinach, garnish with green onions.

Makes four servings, I also had the leftovers in an egg-white omelette this morning. Very nice.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fun Fact Friday - I love rock and roll

So my nerdilated life has hit a little speed bump (or traffic calming, if you will). I had a busy week, and the things I thought might be interesting to share really weren't, so you're getting more of a factlet clip show. Have a beer and make the best of it.

This week we mourn the passing of Les Paul, born in my one-time home town of Waukesha, WI, and inventor of the modern electric guitar. I had a guitar as a child, after I begged each Christmas for Santa or Jesus to drop one off for me. I loved my guitar, loved the way the strings squeaked as I ran my hand up the ridges and tightened them. However, being fat-handed and unmotivated, I made it through one makeshift lesson with the neighbor before I gave up on the whole thing. For the next 25 years, my 'axe' went from home to home with me, until our move to Florida meant some drastic purging of childhood embarassment and the guitar went to Goodwill. In reading about electric guitars today, I decided that I really don't find them that interesting. Fail.

This Sunday, in addition to being my mom's birthday, is the anniversary of the King's untimely 'death' in 1977 (or was it?) As the King of Rock 'n' Roll, with roots in rockabilly (which itself is seeing a recent resurgence, according to the AirTran magazine I read on yesterday's flight), proceeded to offend God-fearing conservatives everywhere while hanging with Ann-Margaret and Richard Nixon. Cool guy, you bet. Worth a whole Triple-F entry to himself? Doubtful.

My next thought was to share with you the exciting history of the jukebox. Apparently, the Jook was a dance back in the day, but I didn't feel like finding out what kind. Beyond that, coin-operated stereos, sounds like a specialized vending machine to me. Didn't we already do that?

Finally, for some unknown reason, I figured I'd research the fun, extensive history of goldfish crackers. Pepperidge Farms makes the little critters, and I love them, but really. Crackers?

I think maybe I'll just go have a beer.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Week In Review (so far...)

Sure, it may seem premature to blog about the week in review on Thursday morning, but the last few days have been somewhat eventful, so I figured I'd get my random nerdiness out of the way so I can bring you officially single-minded nerdiness tomorrow.
Maryland, or at least Germantown, Maryland, is quite a peaceful town. So relaxing. there something politcally incorrect to just say 'Speed Bumps'? The best part is, you can see how far apart they are, and there was a sign before EVERY ONE.

I thought I'd share my restaurant experiences with all of you, in the event that you wind up in this little corner of the planet some day.

Old Shanghai is an all-purpose Asian bistro, as is the trend these days. Pan-Asian, I think is the term. Great service, too many good choices to pick from. Read Sunday's post for details on my meal.

The next night, I ventured across the strip mall courtyard to Agradolce. I was actually headed to Old Shanghai for a repeat of the dumplings, but they had seafood risotto on the specials board and a bar in front of the wood-fired brick oven, so I was sold. Ah, memories of Rome. I actually wound up with the duck confit risotto, though what I got was more of a melange of every risotto they had on their menu, with wild mushrooms and an assortment of other vegetables. Excellent texture, great flavor, though I could have done without the frozen corn. Did a comparison between an older Montepulciano d'Abbruzzo, one of my favorite varietals out of Piedmont, and a younger Sicilian red. Both delicious, though the Sicilian would have worked better if my dinner had a little spice to it.

Tuesday I ventured the opposite direction, and saw Bailey's Pub and Grille. Beautiful stone and copper building, I was expecting something like a Ruby Tuesday's, only not so generic. What I walked into was what I can only imagine is a Hooter's where they stopped caring about anything except the wait staff. The place stank of stale beer and vomit, a smell that only got worse as I pried open the drink menu. This was a dime-a-dozen place, a restaurant that probably renames itself every time the health department shuts it down - the menus didn't even bear the restaurant name, just a myriad of generic TGI-McFunsters fare. I walked out without ordering, and even then I felt as though I needed a shower.

Yesterday's lunch, however, was a highlight not only in the trip, but possibly in my life of casual dining experiences. EN Asian Bistro was clean and simple, the staff friendly and outgoing. I could eat their crab fried rice every week and never tire of it. Real crab, not the pink stuff spelled with a 'K'.

Glad to have carbs for my long journey ahead, I raced to the airport yesterday afternoon to make sure I was checked in on time. I needn't have worried, as we finally took off almost two hours late on the following plane:

As if crying children aren't bad enough on a plane, try keeping them up a few hours past their already generous bedtime. And then, let's cram a fidgetty 10-year-old named after a damn dirty hippie in the seat next to me. "Where do you live? Were you on vacation? There's some good articles in there. Mom, what book are you reading? Have you been here? I need to go to the bathroom. Do you still subscribe to this magazine?" All the while popping hard candy like it was Ritalin. The worst part of these experiences is when I worry that people think these rude kids belong to me. My children are not rude in public, talk to the crazy woman in printed socks and orange shoes behind me. It was a blessing to finally get back to the truck that Lori left for me in long-term parking when she left for Ohio, get in peaceful air conditioning, hit the Taco Bell drive-through so I didn't pass out (since I last ate 12 hours earlier), and come home to an equally silent house.

Quincy seems to be happy to be home as well, after I sprung him from the pokey this morning. He's already fallen back into being his lazy, smelly self. And he seems to have a new little brother or sister.
Brody (after Adrian) has apparently taken up residence in the pool. Lori fished him (or her, how do you tell?) out of the pool earlier this week, and when I went to check this morning, he/she/it was happily doing laps again. I put him/her/it back after this picture, since it seems he (enough already) likes it there, and I won't have a terrapin fritter on my deck when I get home tonight after a day of brutal sun.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Movie Mania Monday - presented in Odorama!

Woo, boy, another weekend come and gone. Because I'm on the road this week and flew into Baltimore yesterday, I felt it only fair to honor the great John Waters this week. Remember the rules. First person to guess correctly the original source of the quote wins a prize - no movie characters quoting other movies. The prize consists of the people's ovation and fame forever (and maybe the title of Iron Quote-Guesser), but if you give me creative, inexpensive and generally humorous ideas, that may change. However, even if you win, don't become an asshole. I beg of you, do not become an asshole.

This week's quote should hopefully be an easy one:

"It's the times. They are a-changin'. Something's blowing in the wind. Fetch me my diet pills, would you?"

Guess away, faithful followers!

Oh, and since nobody guessed it last week, no prizes for you: "Things to do in Denver when you're dead". Great title, so-so movie though it warrants multiple viewings, and some of the best lines are uttered by minor characters.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bonus Post - Maryland Adventures

So I'm in Maryland for the majority of the week, and so far it's pretty groovy. Our first trip through the state many years ago, with surly pre-teens in the back seat and nasty hot weather was unpleasant, to say the least. This time, seeing the northern part of the state, I'm much happier. Rolling hills, winding backroads, lush and green and pastoral.
I landed in Baltimore (first the right side of the plane, followed by the left), and being the all-purpose nerd that I am, coupled with my love of cake (third in line after bacon and pie), I sought out Charm City Cakes, just to take this picture.

Of course, Baltimore as a whole, while a little run down and worse for wear in these economic times, still has other charms:

The color doesn't do these houses justice, they were so bright and vibrant, but again, cameras and I don't get along. Drove past Camden Yards, too, but since I'm not actually a baseball fan, let alone an Orioles fan, I didn't see a reason to risk life and limb while driving 50 miles per hour and snap off a blurry, uncentered picture.

And then there's this thing. The Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower, as Google so kindly informed me.

I don't know what bromo-seltzer is (though I'm sure Google could come in handy there, too), but Captain Emerson, who invented it, also built the tower. Apparently it sported a giant bromo-seltzer bottle at the top of the tower until 1936, when the fun police deemed it unsafe.

I went a little overboard here in Germantown for dinner, thanks in no small part to not eating anything since my granola bar before the flight this morning. Pan-fried dumplings, fried squid and a dish called seafood chow foon, that was lots of seafood and vegetables on top of Amish-style noodle dumplings. Mmmm, carby. Good stuff, must thank Courtney for polling her friends for me ahead of time, I love it when a plan comes together.

Now it's time for...THE PREMATURE (and always popular) RENTAL CAR REVIEW!

When I rent cars, I rent under the premise of an extended test drive. As my faithful readers may recall, the top scores have always gone to big luxury cruisers like the V8 Lucerne and the zippy Maxima. However, on the company's nickel, I try to stay frugal. As such, I am driving a glorious sub-sub-sub-compact Kia Rio (because 'Kia It-has-four-wheels-what-more-do-you-want' wouldn't fit across the tiny decklid). The nice thing about a car this small is that I can still roll down the passenger windows without leaving my seat, even though there are no power windows.

Really, I kid. I know lots of people like tiny cars. I can't fault that, I try to stay conscious of the environment and such when it doesn't bum my natural high on life. For a tiny car, it has a remarkable ride quality. Smooth, even on some bumpy roads I ran across. Of course, at 11.8 miles on the trip odometer, it developed a nasty rattle somewhere in the dash, so ride quality was insignificant since I started avoiding potholes anyway. Excellent radio, too, at least for me. As long as the speakers don't buzz and I don't feel like I'm back in my first car with the AM radio, I'm good. Precise steering, adequate pickup when you floor it with the AC on, so first assessment, I'd give this car an overall B-. Nothing I want to own, ever, but actually nicer than the larger Spectra I had in Kansas City last January.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dinnertime - Pollosole

I love my Crock Pot. The joy of putting something together in the morning or night before, and coming home eight hours later to a near-complete meal, is sheer perfection.

Traditionally, posole is a pork stew, and I love pork shoulder in the Crock Pot. However, the posole model seems to hold true no matter what meat is in place, including the last time I had menudo at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Wisconsin. (Our favorite Mexican restaurant, period, is La Playa Bonita, on the east coast of Cozumel. Worth the trip, try the ceviche and margaritas before you have a massage on the beach.)

In your Crock Pot, combine:
1 medium roasting chicken, about three pounds
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp salt
1 16-oz can white hominy, drained
1 8-oz can Ro-Tel tomatoes and peppers

After stewing all day, I removed the chicken to a baking dish and ran it under the broiler for five minutes just to crisp up the skin. I also turned up the Crock Pot with the lid off to let the soup thicken slightly. You can then carve the chicken traditionally and serve it atop the soup, or you can shred the meat and stir it back in for something more refined.

Garnishes are what finish the dish, I love an interactive meal and each diner can flavor the dish to his or her liking.

Chopped green onions or minced white onion
Shredded cabbage
Sliced radishes
Sliced jalapeno
Chopped cilantro
Sour cream
Lime wedges
Warm corn tortillas

This is a healthy meal for four, or would serve eight as a soup course.

Fun Fact Friday - Vendor now or vendor later?

I have an addiction to the carbonated arts, particularly in diet cola form. This has persisted for years, even though I did manage to quit for an arduous three months back in 2006. My co-worker quit smoking at the same time, and NOBODY wanted to work with us.

I like vending machines. They're convenient and impersonal, so nobody can judge your unhealthy choices. Today while buying my third soda of the day, I got to wondering about the original vending machine concept.

Apparently, during the early 1880s, the first commercial coin-operated vending machines were introduced in London, England and dispensed post cards. English publisher and bookshop owner, Richard Carlisle invented a vending machine for selling books, around the same time. I don't like this, personally, because how can you randomly read a few pages to know if you'll like it? And unless there's a coffee-and-pastry machine right next to it, how do I get my full Barnes and Noble experience?

In 1888, the Thomas Adams Gum Company introduced the very first vending machines to the United States. The machines were installed on the elevated subway platforms in New York City and sold Tutti-Fruiti gum. In 1897, the Pulver Manufacturing Company added animated figures to its gum machines as an added attraction. The round candy coated gumball and gumball vending machines were introduced in 1907.

Vending machines soon offered everything including; cigars, postcards, stamps, etc. In Philadelphia, a completely coin-operated restaurant called Horn & Hardart was opened in 1902 and stayed opened until 1962. In the early 1920's, the first automatic vending machines started dispensing sodas into cups. In 1926, an American inventor named William Rowe invented the cigarette vending machine.

Beginning in the 1940's, A company called Vendorlator Manufacturing Company of Fresno California made a series of classic vending machines that mostly sold Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Of course, I look forward to an eventual trip to Japan, where they have the best vending machines ever. Beer? Don't mind if I do. And while you're down there, could you pick me up some panties and a 25-pound bag of rice? And if you get the chance, you can play the claw game, too.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Original Badass

My dad, for all the shit he gave me as a kid, for as embarrassing as he chose to be (or as we thought he was), Dad was a badass.

Dad had a temper, consequently my life was spent looking for ways not to piss him off. He was given the wrong TV at a loading dock once, and when he tried to return it, threatened bodily harm to the clerk when he was told all sales were final. When the Pondarosa gave him a four-ounce sirloin and tried to pass it off as the King Cut, the scene was epic. The dialog that will always stick in my mind is the district manager asking my father "Now sir, please don't make a scene", to which Dad replied "I'll make a scene if I G**-D***ed well want to!" Now I itch to make a scene and dedicate each and every one to my Dad.

I cut myself or walk into things from time to time, and I try to just walk it off, but I wasn't always that way, and I'm sure it irked him horribly to have a sissy for a son. You'd walk up to my father with a cut, and he'd spit on it and tell you it was better. Hey, spit is antiseptic, right? Just like when your mother would lick that napkin to wipe your face, you sloppy drooler. Walk up to him and ask what he did, why he was bleeding profusely and his response would always be 'Am I? I didn't notice.'

Now he's on blood thinners, and even had to switch to an electric razor so he wouldn't bleed out in the bathroom in the morning.

The standout badass moment is something I'll refer to here as the 'Infamous 48 hours of punishing bloodiness', or IFEHPB. My father worked maintenance for most of my life, and one day at work, he and another guy were moving a ladder into place. The ladder slipped into my father's pocket and scratched him, but he thought nothing of it. It wasn't until 30 minutes later when he went for change for the soda machine and came out with a wet, bloody hand that he thought something might be amiss. Of course, the city being paranoid about such things sent him to the hospital, where he got a tetanus shot and stitches. Yes, that's right, Dad walked off a cut that required stitches.

Cut to dinner the following night. Dad was slicing something while dinner cooked, and he opened the cabinet to get a plate. A platter slid out of place and launched toward him, so his instinct said to put up his hands to catch. Had he put the knife down first, this probably wouldn't have been such a bad idea.

So Dad and I pile into the family truckster, him with his hand wrapped in a blood-soaked kitchen towel, and me with my learner's permit, and we drive to the hospital. In a moment that made IFEHPB history, my father and his blood-soaked hand was still able to get out, disapprove of my parking and re-park the truck before going into the ER.

How badass is that?

***You should have seen the look on the ER attendant's face when my father proudly responded that he'd had a tetanus shot the day before.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Just one of those days

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Not that vacation days shouldn't be, but this was a rare, nearly exquisite summer day in Florida. The sun was shining, it wasn't deathly humid, and it didn't decide to rain until we were finally in the house for the night. Took a nice drive and had lunch with a friend's parents, in town to pick up a pristine car they got off of eBay.

Today, there were stray dogs in the conservancy with unknown intentions, which really upset the Dammit Dog. I did tell him that if he really wanted to be stray, it could be arranged. It is pouring ouside, and the ceiling next to my cubicle is dripping into the trash can that's been collecting the drips for weeks now, each drop making that quaint 'ploop' sound. There is no excitement, no anticipation, that the day could still get better, and I still have eight hours left.

Ah, vacation days. What would we do without them?

(Am I being a downer? Maybe you should stop reading this and go venture a guess at the movie quote contest. Just sayin.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Movie Mania Monday (or...this blog goes to 11)

Some of you may (rightfully) regard me as a nerd. Hell, I regard me as a nerd. I love obscure movies, and frequently notice the little things that I'm not supposed to notice, thanks to a Film Art class at UWM back in '89. This doesn't hurt, either.

In an effort to enlighten and annoy the masses (that's you, dear reader), I will deign to point out the happy little comment beneath the blog title (Over there! Red room!) that changes from time to time and is usually a happy movie quote.

Now, CONTEST TIME! Every Monday, I will post a new quote. First person to guess correctly the original source of the quote wins a prize - no movie characters quoting other movies. Right now, the prize consists of the people's ovation and fame forever, but if you give me creative, inexpensive and generally humorous ideas, that may change.

This week's quote, as it appeared in last week's headline:

"You've got to have flowers in the warzone, baby!"

Easy target for the first one, but you get bonus points if you don't have to Google it. Bonus points, too, if you can identify this week's headline listing. Now, Allez Quoting!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The sun at the beach

So, no recipe today. We had the AC fixed in the truck yesterday, so the world of super-hot Florida was our oyster. Took a great drive out to Fort DeSoto Park, incredible beach (#1 rated in the nation four years ago) and the gulf was bathwater warm. Growing up, my only context for swimming in the great outdoors was Lake Michigan, where you were done swimming when you couldn't feel your legs any more, so this was quite the event for me. My parents informed me tonight that Lake Michigan is up to a balmy 65 degrees. Ahhh, refreshing.

The park has some awesome campsites, too, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, your box fan blowing on high so you don't steam cook overnight in your tent. We miss camping, but this is NOT Florida's tent camping season.

Even better than the park, though, was our side trip through one of the nicer deed-restricted waterfront subdivisions in south Pinellas. At which point, we discovered the best. Mailbox. Ever.

I have to state here that Lori took this photo. Note that it is perfectly centered, a sure sign I had nothing to do with it.

I realize that deed restrictions aren't standard across the board, and other people have mailboxes held by manatees and dolphins and alligators, but come on. Best. Mailbox. Ever. Did I mention that? In the land of Jose Gaspar, where pirates invade the city once a year and the pirate's galleon resides downtown year-round, it's tough to find someone who might be taking the area traditions a tad TOO seriously.

At least their friends don't have to look too hard for the house on their first visit.

Be nice and share!

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