January 2005 Archives
The Gothamist is a New York City blog, and it has a whole section dedicated to food, updated frequently. Lots of it is about NYC eateries, which doesn't concern me so much, but every once in a while you get fabulous food porn, like this entry last year showing how to make butter poached lobster (caution: the lobster pictures are spectacular enough to give you a woody, so it's up to you to decide whether that means it's work safe or not.)
Another entry from last year is a great entry on cupcakes. Seeing as how my oldest has decided she wants to be a pastry chef when she grows up, I'm sure I'll need to get her this book for her birthday.
So this link has been sitting near the top of Karl's blog the past couple of days (always makes me cringe a little when I forget and pop it up at work...not exactly work safe, but I think the new job might be reasonably tolerant). But no big deal from a creepiness perspective. It's just a picture.
I get home from Marie's farewell party tonight and spend a good two hours alone in the house, IM-ing with Circe, playing Yahoo games, and generally doing nothing. And when the family gets home, the first thing I hear is "So did you see the tarantula in Liam's room? We're taking care of it for a whole week!"
Wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh.....brrrrrrr. I was alone in the house with WHAT?!
I'm not afraid of things like spiders and snakes during the day, when I'm awake. But every once in a while I get these things called night terrors, where I go stark raving ballistic in my sleep over something imagined in my bed. Usually a very big spider, but sometimes a lizard or a snake or a rat. I'll jump up, turn on the light, rip all the covers off and start shaking them out (you wouldn't believe how much this pisses off Gina to be awakened like this), and it'll take me a few minutes before I can be convinced it's just a dream.
So tonight I think I will sleep in the car. I don't even think Gina will miss me, to be honest.
(From fafblog via BoingBoing.)
Q: I'm following you so far, but what if privatization...
A: It's not privatization it is private accounts.
Q: Alright then, what if these private accounts...
A: They are not private accounts they are personal accounts.
Q: Okay, if these personal accounts...
A: They are not personal accounts, they are privamatupilous splendiferacy.
Q: I forgot what I was talking about.
A: Oh good! Have a lollipop with your splendiferacy.
I saw a preview for the new War of the Worlds movie, and it made me rush right out and buy a copy of the H.G. Wells book. I loved this book when I was a kid, and I wanted to re-implant it in my brain before Spielberg & Cruise have a chance to pollute my memories.
Wells' book is fabulous. Published in 1898, it predicted flying war machines, automated genocide, and terror bombings of cities long before the carnage of the World Wars ever happened. It's clearly a product of the waning Victorian era; the lackluster "steampunk" movement from 1990's sci-fi tried but failed to recapture these times by projecting modern technology backwards upon 19th century settings, but they never achieved anything close to what Wells could do by imagining future technology and dropping it into his own 19th century world.
I never really watched the old 1953 movie; the bits and pieces I saw just seemed like so much boiler-plate 50's commie-scare sci-fi, and though I love films like "The Day The Earth Stood Still", I didn't like seeing my beloved "War of the Worlds" updated in the same manner.
So now, enter Spielberg and Cruise. Obviously, they'll gut the book. This is modern Hollywood, they have to. They'll rip out every shred of the 19th century and replace it with 2005. They'll sand off the rich backdrop of rural England and paint on some urban Jersey landscape. They'll twist and squeeze and shred the story of a regular citizen watching awesome events unfold and remold it until it becomes yet another Cruise-as-action-hero venture. And to top it off, they'll sprinkle it liberally with backtalking kids and product placements...lots and lots and lots of product placements.
They'll destroy this book for the millions who will foolishly go see the film before reading the book, or (horror!) never bother with the book at all. Only we lucky few, who know the book inside and out and have it imprinted on our brains, will know the true story.
And yeah, I'll go see it. I might even like it. But I wanted to get my bitching in ahead of time.
Have you been confused in the past few years at how the GOP, the party of the Balanced Budget Amendment, the party of deficit hawks, the party who so vilified "tax-and-spend Democrats" for so many years, could become a party that could turn a budget surplus into a record-breaking deficit in only four years?
It is no longer confusing to me. It is part of their strategy of rendering the Federal government powerless. It is a strategy called "starving the beast": you lower taxes so far and drive deficits so high that the Federal government will be incapable of doing anything other than making payments on the debt, thus making dismantling of all Federal social programs a necessity.
Deficits aren't a momentary lapse of Republican principles. They are not even a sign of GOP hypocrisy. They're all part of the plan, baby.
Read about it here. Kind of an old article, but even more relevant today than it was in 2003.
I've always been a big fan of doing things in the kitchen the slow way. Knives, not food processors. Home-made stock, not store-bought. Fresh seafood, not preprocessed. The downside of this is that big projects like gumbo can take all day, sometimes longer. If I have to make a big pot of fish stock AND make my own roux AND cook and clean a big pile of live crabs AND chop all my veggies by hand...it's just gonna take a long time. And I've found lately that this means that I end up not making gumbo very often any more, what with kid stuff and work stuff always getting in the way.
So I decided to see if I could set a speed record. With everything either done for me ahead of time, or done in the fastest manner possible, how long would a batch of seafood gumbo take? This was my project yesterday. I figured even if the gumbo came out lousy, it was at least a good way of decompressing from a rather grueling week at work, and might keep me away from the computer for an afternoon.
Karl pointed us to the rockin' headstone for Johnny Ramone, which got me thinking about where the other two are resting.
Thank Dog for Google.
Dee Dee is buried right next to Johnny, in Santa Monica.
Joey rests in peace in New Jersey.
Circe claims to have another Ramone buried under her trailer. No doubt that would be one of the lesser-known Ramones, Shemp.
It's official: Kinky Friedman is running for governor.
"If elected, I would ask Willie Nelson to be the head of the Texas Rangers and Laura Bush to take charge of education in the state. I'd ask my Palestinian hairdresser, Farouk Shami, to be Texas ' ambassador to Israel . We've worked together to create Farouk & Friedman olive oil. The oil comes from the Holy land and all of the profits go to benefit Israeli and Palestinian children."
The only candidate who has pictures of himself with both Laura Bush and Iggy Pop on the same page of his campaign site.
There's hope for this state yet.
I used to always finish a book, no matter how much I hated it while I was reading it. Then my friend Jeff managed to convince me that life is too short...and he was talking about Gravity's Rainbow(!), which at the time I was assaulting for the third and final time (my high water mark is page 100). Jeff's take is that in the time you spend punishing yourself with a book that you're not enjoying, you could have gone out and read three other equally rewarding classics that you did like.
So I don't flog myself with a book that just isn't doing it for me. And sometimes this might be a mistake; I think I mentioned that I almost abandoned Choke but stuck with it and I'm glad I did. But here are four that I'm not going back to:
Annie Proulx, The Shipping News. I wanted to see the movie when it came out, since my grandparents were Newfies and I'm a big Kevin Spacey fan, but a friend convinced me to read the book first. God, what punishment. Her writing style is fractured and torturous. I felt nothing for the characters. It had fuck all to do with Newfoundland. I hated it from page one, read about a third, and finally chucked it.
Still haven't seen the movie yet either.
Joseph Heller, Closing Time. OK, first let me say that Catch-22 is probably my favorite novel of all time. I have read it at least twenty times. I even organized a prank on Orkut revolving around a character of the book, as a means of easily dividing up the women on Orkut into "worthy" (got the joke) and "unworthy" groups. Worked like a charm.
So this book is ostensibly a "sequel" to the first, following Yossarian, Milo, and the other characters as they reach retirement age. I read about a third of it and dang if I could find a point to it all. It was still satire, but lacking in wit...or a plot. I love those characters, but wanting to see what happened to them next was not enough reason to keep reading. They got boring. They got bitter. Tossed it.
Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man. Hugo Award winner. Psychic crime novel. Not bad, just boring. I might actually go back to it one of these days, but I have very particular fetishes when it comes to sci-fi and this one didn't tickle any of them.
Jim Marrs, Rule By Secrecy. This one and another of his were Christmas gifts from a relative. I love this woman, and often she gets me great gifts, but there are two things she should never buy me: music and books. Marrs is one of those conspiracy theorists who believes that the Trilateral Commission, the Knights of Templar, Skull and Bones, and the Illuminati are all part of a grand conspiracy bent on world domination. I love history books, but I like ones where the author has checked at least one or two primary sources in his lifetime and not just based all of his "research" on what OTHER conspiracy authors has written. Crap crap crap crap crap.
I can't believe the other night I forgot to mention the two best novels I read all year. High Fidelity and About A Boy, both by Nick Hornby.
My tiny reading audience has all probably read both of these and seen the movies (I haven't seen the latter film), so I won't rehash them here. But Hornby speaks to me. The music, the dry sarcastic wit, the complete inability to figure out what the hell is wrong with this woman or that woman...
Weird though that two of the best novels I read this year, by two different authors, centered around a protagonist who went to support groups where he didn't belong just to pick up chicks. I'm thinking I need to stop going to the all-male AA meeting and start branching out a bit.
Anyhoo, I went out and bought Hornby's How To Be Good and started it tonight. It's my cardio book for the gym so it'll take me a few weeks to finish it. I'll let you know how it goes.
I was reading this NYT article about "Iron Chef America" (which looks like it's going to be fabulous, unlike the Shatner-hosted abortion on UPS a few years ago), when it hit me like a ton of bricks.
The similarities, to any food-loving Red Sox fan, are uncanny.
Both are obviously good at what they do.
Both are New Yorkers.
Both are arrogant.
Both exude that frat-boy punk wise-ass attitude that your dumber chicks mistake for "confidence".
Both are completely lacking in class.
They even look a little alike, with that simpering little class jerk-off sneer that is so enraging when they're winning and so hilarious when they're losing.
And both obviously really needed to get their asses kicked more often back when they were young enough that it wouldn't be considered assault and battery, but because they weren't, we all have to put up with them as adults.
I fucking hate them. And I hope Rick Bayless does to Flay what my beautiful Red Sox did to Jeter last year. Over and over and over and over and over...
This post by Karl about the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list got me thinking about what I've been reading lately, what I have yet to read but want to, and what it seems like I've been reading for years (I have kind of a problem with having five or six books in process at any given time).
So anyway, first installment, is stuff I've read (and finished) of the fiction variety in the past year or so:
Vikram Seth, The Golden Gate: An entire novel written in verse, about a group of friends living in the Silicon Valley in the 80's. A friend of mine bought it for me since she knew I lived there in the late 80's as well, and I was hoping for a gripping tale of 72-hour amphetamine-fueled hacking binges and motorcycles and tattoos and punk rock (is there anything else in the Bay Area?) and instead got a sweet tale of heartbreak and loss and forgiveness. Doing the entire 300 pages in rhyming couplets was cute mostly, brilliant sometimes, but often tiring and affected. Still, a nice story.
Roger Zelazny, A Night In The Lonesome October: OK, Doxy is gonna kill me if she finds out, but I was bored to tears reading this. Doxy recommended reading it to your kids, one chapter a night through the month of October, but I started it the last week of September and didn't finish until almost Thanksgiving. I catch all the references to Lovecraft, etc. It just didn't hook me. In the end it was just a light fantasy book.
Chuck Palahniuk, Choke: The first book I've read by him, and I almost put it down after the first chapter because of what I thought was its overwhelming negativity (I don't like negative when it's just a cheap "edginess" tactic) but I'm glad I stuck with it. The story follows a guy who goes to sexaholics anonymous meetings to pick up chicks and who slowly goes insane while his mother lay dying in the hospital. Like books by people like Hubert Selby, it gets pretty raw in the details of how far down in the gutter people can get, how much they can debase themselves because of their own compulsions and mental lapses, but unlike Selby's books, which always just seem like pointless flogging of the soul, this one ends on a note of acceptance and renewal.
Dan Brown, Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code: Yeah, I know, I know. Pretty much fluff, but I like puzzle-plots and conspiracies and I like stuff about the ancient history of Catholicism, and these were great to read back at the beginning of the year when I was travelling a lot.
Greg Bear, Darwin's Radio: I've been looking for another sci-fi author to get obsessed over since William Gibson isn't prolific enough and Philip K. Dick is dead, and I think I'll keep looking. An OK read, but if you don't have a degree in biochemistry you'll have trouble following a lot of the details, and there's a lot of that Heinlein tactic of having some character engage in a pages long monologue to provide background to the reader that always seems so fake.
So that's it? A whole year's worth of reading?
Well, as it turns out I read a lot more non-fiction than fiction. And this list also doesn't include the stuff that I've reread for the umpteenth time (LOTR, Dubliners, Catch 22,...)
I'll get to the non-fiction later on.
I'm quitting my job and taking up the fiddle.
A job listing, recently posted at Looka:
OK, I don't normally hand a loaded gun to children, much less offer up an audition for a Hank Williams III gig to my friends and associates, but there might be someone out there who'd like to take a little walk on the wild side.
Here's the deal -- Hank III is holding auditions for a hillbilly/bluegrass style fiddler in Nashville, TN on January 20. Tour starts Feb. 1. For more info, DO NOT CONTACT ME, but call (xxx) xxx-xxxx. Someone at this number will have the pertinent details or a facsimile thereof.
Based on my past road experience with Tri-cephus, the likely candidate should be someone who can handle tattoos, bikers, strippers, heavy metal (both the music & players), Hank Williams Sr., 9mms & .44 Magnums, LOTS of weed, seedy bars, diesel-sniffers, snuff queens, irate Hank Sr. fans and a laid-back southern way of doing things. If you know anyone who might be interested, tell 'em to go to his website (via search engine) and dig around.
Just trying to help out my fellow musicians. May God have mercy on your souls.
Also this week in Looka, some glorious po-boy food porn from New Orleans. Y'all check it out.
Even though I don't own any of their products, I love the idea of Apple.
The secret to programming is not intelligence, though of course that helps. It is not hard work or experience, though they help, too. The secret to programming is having smart friends.
The straw that broke the camel's back. This is what you see if you go to my now EX blog site:
"Our data center (Internap) lost all its power, including redundant backup power, for some unknown reason. (unknown to me, at least) We're currently dealing with bringing our 100+ servers back online. Not fun. We're not happy about this. Sorry... :-/ More details later.
Update #1, 7:35 pm PST: we're up on 'dirty' power for now (it works, but it's unreliable), and we're working to assess the state of the databases. The worst thing we could do right now is rush the site up in an unreliable state. We're checking all the hardware and data, making sure everything's consistent. Where it's not, we'll be restoring from recent backups and replaying all the changes since that time, to get to the current point in time, but in good shape. We'll be providing more technical details later, for those curious, on the power failure (when we learn more), the database details, and the recovery process. For now, please be patient. We'll be working all weekend on this if we have to."
As of now, this is the new blog. I'll be moving my old stuff over in dribs and drabs if it surivives.
Pere Ubu is the motherfuckin' bomb.
The girls won’t touch me cause I got a misdirection
And living at night isn’t’ helping my complexion
The signs all say it’s a social infection
A little bit of fun’s never been an insurrection
Mom threw me out till I get some pants that fit
She just won’t approve of my strange kind of wit
I get so excited I always gotta lose it
Then they send me off and make me take the cure
But I don’t need a cure
D-d-don’t need a cure
D-d-don’t need a cure
I need a final solution
Buy me a ticket to a sonic reduction
Guitars gonna sound like a nuclear destruction
Seems I’m the victim of natural selection
Meet me on the other side--no direction!
Cause I don’t need a cure
D-d-don’t need a cure
D-d-don’t need a cure
I need a final solution
I am deeply moved.
From Karl Elvis:
Directions: copy this list of ten authors, then replace any authors not in your bookcases with authors who are. Replacements in bold.
When you're done, go back via Karl's blog and keep clicking back up the trail, it's fun to see how this list changes.
Here's mine. I threw a non-fiction author in there just so I wouldn't be bored. Yes, I read shitloads of non-fiction. I'm a dork.
1. Philip K. Dick
2. Charles Bukowski
3. J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Hunter S. Thompson
5. Roddy Doyle
6. Tim Pat Coogan
7. Milan Kundera
8. William S. Burroughs
9. Lemony Snicket
10. William Shakespeare