May 19, 2014

Food/Booze blog is back!

Hey kids,

Going to start posting over at the collaborative Simmer, Sip, Share blog once again at the request of a Twitter buddy. I'm planning on this year being the Summer of BBQ, so I start it out right with a review of a local Texas-syle BBQ joint nearby.

Dixie's Smokehouse Three Rib Combo
Go on and check it out, if you are so inclined. Expect to see the bulk of my blogging being done over there this summer. And maybe some posts from some familiar faces. Ya never know!

Cheers!

Mar 16, 2014

Crossroads

photo credit: me
Popped onto Blogger just now only to see that I've only posted one entry all year so far. And that was back on January 1st. It appears that I've temporarily given up on blogging. I'm not officially quitting or taking down this site. Shit...this crap will be here for as long as Blogger/Google allows it to remain here for free. I just don't see myself blogging anytime in the near future. And it doesn't mean that I won't find some crazy blog inspiration from time-to-time in the future. I might. But right now...I just don't see it happening.

But there's good news! You can find me and certain brief updates of my life on a couple of other social media platforms! Huzzah!

Twitter - @VerdantDude
I've been on Twitter for several years and over 6,000 tweets. Big whup. Follow me here for updates on what I'm drinking, what I want to drink and what I'll never drink again. Or something like that. In other words, my tweet cloud has the word bourbon and pretty much nothing else. If you like bourbon and the occasional interesting and/or clever thought, then you should be following me on Twitter.

Instagram - @verdantearl
I've been told that my Instagram feed makes me look like a crazy, food-obsessed, alcoholic cat person. Yup...that seems about right. Food, booze and cats. That's pretty much what you are going to get from my Instagram feed. The occasionally odd pic that doesn't fit into that narrow description. Like the pic I took last week above. First 60+ degree day we had this year so far. So we went to our favorite local restaurant and found that they had tables set up outside. We embraced the outside seating and had a few drinks and some small bites to eat. I looked up and saw the nearly-full moon placed perfectly between those road signs. Snap. So even when one of my pictures doesn't seem to be about food or drink...yeah, it probably does.

But that's all I've got going on via social media right now. I've got a sneaky-ass Facebook account, but I'm not really sharing that with anyone. I just don't use it, nor do I want to start using it. So there.

Jan 1, 2014

One

Because he's been doing it all freakin' year and for as long as I can remember, Dave Simmer (Deux) gets my nod for best blog of the century. He's the fucking man.

Do it to it, peoples. 

I wish that I could something similar for for my own little corner of Blogosvania. I mean the doing it all the time part, not the best blog part. That's purely subjective, although I'm nearly always right when it comes to these kind of things.

2013 saw a dramatic downturn in blogging activity for me. A turn of the screw that I'm not entirely jake with. There are certainly things I can do about it in 2014. Writing more would be a good start. In fact, I have started writing more. I began a novel and a few short stories. Nothing to write home about (see what I did there?), but it's a start. I will share more once I'm comfortable with my voice. Could take a while, as I'm currently finding it whiny and inane.

It's nearly 5am here and I'm finding myself longing for more whiskey and cured meats.That might be my tagline for 2014. "More whiskey and cured meats".

What do you think?

Dec 4, 2013

Recipes for the Big Fella

A few days ago, our pal the Chef posted a recipe for a spicy lamb stew.  It was one of those recipes that I
knew I had to make immediately. I remarked that it seemed like more of a chili than a stew, so I made some slight changes to the recipe.
  • I couldn't find the particular chorizo that I wanted, so I went with a lamb merguez sausage instead. Very mild, but with an incredible taste. 
  • Since it "felt" like a chili to me, I couldn't help but add a can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes. 
Besides those small changes, I was pretty faithful to the original. And it came out delicious! The lamb shoulder and sausage offered a much, much different flavor than any chili I have ever made or tasted before. Gia called it her very favorite chili, but she's been known to do that before.

Looking tasty with a dollop of sour cream
By the way, if you aren't reading Chef's blog, well...you fucking should be. Great recipes, great stories, great commenters (if I do say so meeself). You'll be a better soul for having visited, I can assure you.

He mentioned wanting some of my own recipes. So I thought I would go back in the blog logs and post links to all my old recipes. Enjoy or don't at your own risk. Cheers!

Phew! I feel like I'm missing some. I KNOW I'm missing some. And I still have a bunch of recipes and food porn that I haven't gotten around to posting just yet. Seems as if I've been posting my food porn pics on Instagram without sharing the recipes over here. Sinner. It'll happen. One of these days.

By the way, I have 46 (now 47) posts that mention bacon. Is that a lot? Nah....

Nov 18, 2013

Things

Following Dave's lead, I'm jumping on the "Things You Don't Know About Me" meme thingy. And, as Dave did, I'm making no promises that I'm not repeating anything I've shared here before. Because I've been doing this for around eight years now and I can barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday. So here goes:
  1. I seriously considered a career in the military when I was younger. Seems like a total disconnect to the neo-hippie persona that I foster nowadays, especially my disdain of guns. But I was "this close" to signing up for a career in the Navy when I was in High School. Like scary close. My dad was a Navy guy, but not a lifer. I just had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Even did a year of ROTC (Reserve Officer's Training Corps) once I got to college. Backed out right at the point where I was going to have to sign on. I'm sure I made the right choices, but I always wonder were that other path would've led. 
  2. All that being said, military funerals really affect me. Went to one last Friday for a gentlemen that I didn't even know served. Turns out he was a WWII vet, although I don't think he ever saw combat. It all ended while he was still in training, I believe. My father had a military funeral as well. He was in the Navy on a carrier during the Korean War, but he never saw any direct combat either. Good. Kinda ensured that I would be here to fill out this silly meme, ya know?
  3. School and I didn't mix well. I was an awful student even though I managed to get decent grades. If I just applied myself, it would have been a much more awarding exercise. But I knew it wasn't for me. Several years out of college, a friend got me to help her study for the GMATs, which was the test you needed to take at that time to get into Graduate School for your Master's Degree. I helped her out and wound up taking the test with her. Which led me to take several courses at a local university for my MBA. But I felt like I got nothing out of it, so I never finished my degree. Again, I think I made the right choice, but I still wonder.
  4. That disdain for schooling translated in an related inability to teach things to people. It's why I was an awful boss for so many years. I struggled with understanding why my subordinates couldn't just "do the job" without me spending what seemed to be endless time teaching them the job. And when I get frustrated with people for not understanding things that came easily to me, I took it out on them and wound up doing triple the work myself. I probably would be better at it now, but I'm no longer a corporate drone. I hope I would be better at it now.
  5. That friend I helped with the GMATs also wanted me to take scuba lessons with her. We had a modest flirtation that never went anywhere, couldn't go anywhere for many reasons. But she knew I had/have this phobia of the ocean, so she signed us up. On the day of the first lesson, I bailed. Just didn't want to do it. So she goes and is "buddied up" with some guy who was there alone as well. They become involved, he ruins her life and then they get married. Yeah, I got the order correct there. She STILL married him after he fucked her over badly. The pattern continues. I don't regret not going on with the scuba lessons myself, but I often wonder how different HER life would have been. But since I have no idea how her life is now, I try not to think about it all that often.
  6. I like to think about traveling more than I like the actual experience itself. Don't get me wrong, I like being in interesting places that I've never been before. But the process of getting from point A to point B at any given time is something I've come to despise. So much so that it definitely affects my desire to experience new places and things. Maybe I'm just bitter that personal transporter devices haven't been invented yet. Yup...definitely bitter. 
  7. In my heart, I've always wised that I worked with my hands for a living rather than pushing a pencil or tapping on a keyboard. I'm not handy around the house at all, but I occasionally break down and get something done on my own. A ceiling fan installed, a light fixture replaced (kind of the same thing), some minor plumbing. And when I do those things, I feel more pride than anything I've done for my actual job all week long. It's not something I can really change. I've tried some wood-working and metal-working in the past, but I just don't have it in me.
  8. There are, however, several things I can do better than anyone else I've ever met. I'll just leave it at that.
  9. I have no idea how many things I should come up with for this list.
  10. I turned 47 today. But some of you already knew that. :)
Cheers!

Oct 31, 2013

Day 31: The Conjuring (2013)

Can a once-prolific blogger who hasn't written 31 posts all year find it in his soul to review 31 previously unseen horror films in 31 days of October? Let's find out...

Edit: This review is going to be old by then, but it's a part of Stacie Ponder's Final Girl Film Club. So...yay!?! Deal with it, kids. 

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I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT! And I'm not talking about making a poopie. I watched and reviewed 31 new (to me) horror flicks in 31 days. Actually, I started watching and reviewing them in the last week of September to give myself a head-start. Needed it too. Phew!

I saved the biggest horror flick of the year for last. James Wan's The Conjuring, rented on Amazon Instant in HD.  Based on the occult investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren into the haunting of the Perron family by a witch in the early 1970's.

Guys, I just love the 1970's. Everything about the decade. The clothes, the cars, the music (well, Death Before Disco), the sideburns and, of course, all the kooky satanic stuff. Have you noticed that the 1970's had more "based on a true story" demonic possession crap going on than any decade since? Even this film, which was released just this year, takes place in the funky demonic 1970's. One of the biggest reasons why the 1970's rocks my glitter socks off.

Truck-driving man Ron Livingstone (huh?) moves his wife (Lili Taylor) and their five daughters to a run-down old farmhouse in New England. Five fucking daughters!!! Jesus Christ, man! That's a whole lotta estrogen going on right there. Maybe a demonic possession wouldn't be such a bad thing, if you think about it. And wouldn't you know it...that's one of the added perks to this joint that they just got at auction. Ghosts, demons, witches, hidden rooms. Better than a two-car garage or a third bathroom, if you ask me. 

Back In 1976, my family packed up and moved to an old scary house in a new scary town. Seriously, it looked like the Marsten House from 'Salem's Lot. That big old thing had a hidden bookcase passageway, a tower (a fucking tower!) and the scariest cellar ever seen by mankind. You couldn't pay me to go down into that cellar. We were only there for about a year and a half, and I think I went down in that cellar once. Just once. The general upkeep and taxes on the house were enormous and my folks just couldn't afford it. But man, oh man...it was like living in the creepiest haunted house ever right during my formative years. Except that we didn't have one rotten incident of paranormal spookiness. Not a peep or poop. Which is a good thing, I guess.

Because if I had to have dealt with even a fraction of what the family in this film went through in their first two days in their home...well, I'd probably be dead right now. Holy fuck! This is one scary flick, kids. I'm going to leave my review vague on purpose. This is one of those films that you're better off knowing as little as possible going in. But I can say that it brought the horror. Well done all around.

The only thing that is keeping me from giving The Conjuring 5 full pumpkins was the ending. Don't get me wrong, it was fine. But everything that led up to the ending was balls to the wall. Whereas the ending was merely balls to about three feet from the wall. Just didn't seem thorough or final enough. And in the day and age when popular horror flicks get sequels approved before the opening weekend is even over...well, I guess I'm not surprised. But when compared to some classic films like The Exorcist, the climax just left me wanting more. Which we'll get in The Conjuring 2: Annabella Boogaloo*. I'm just spit-balling at a title here.

*Although I would enjoy a full movie on the Annabella doll. Fucking creepy dolls...

Verdant Dude rating: 4 out of 5 pumpkins

Oct 30, 2013

Day 30: The Road (2011)

Can a once-prolific blogger who hasn't written 31 posts all year find it in his soul to review 31 previously unseen horror films in 31 days of October? Let's find out...
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It's the penultimate day of October 2013, and we are reviewing our 30th film of the month. That's the royal "we". I just love the word "penultimate", it always makes me think of this. OK, in that clip Simon and Hecubus were in the Pit of Ultimate Darkness, but trust me...there was one episode that came from the Pit of Penultimate Darkness. Apparently there was a pit that was just slightly darker than that one. Where were we, the royal "we"? Ah, yes...

The Road is not the film based on the Cormac McCarthy novel that you are all thinking of. Nope, this is an independent horror film out of the Philippines. My very first Filipino horror flick, I believe. The story of the film is told in three parts. In Part I, which takes place in 2008, we see a police officer receive a commendation even though his commander thinks he takes too many chances. A woman approaches him and asks him to look into the 12-year old cold case of her missing daughters. They went missing in 1998, so unless they do math differently in the Philippines the current year should be 2010. Hmm...

Warning: if you plan on watching this on Netflix, as I am doing, you may find yourself too annoyed at the subtitles to even continue on with the film at this point. Despite some of it being in heavily-accented English, there are basically two sets of subtitles going on along the bottom of the screen. Sometimes saying two slightly different things. I'm a subtitle freak, so I actually didn't mind it. But I can see how someone would. Fair warning.

Remaining in present time, the action moves to a teenaged girl who sneaks out at night with her cousin and her cousin's boyfriend. They borrow her aunt's car so that the boy can teach the girls how to drive for their upcoming driving exams. They find an isolated stretch of road, and we all know that nothing bad ever happens on isolated stretches of road. They keep getting passed by a red car that appears to have no driver. Bad supernatural shit happens.

Our police officer from the beginning of the film is a part of the crew investigating what happened. He finds a connection to the missing girls from 12 (or 10) years ago. And the film now moves to 1998 to tell their story as their disappearance occurred on the same isolated stretch of road. Then it winds up in 1988 to tell the first/last part of the tale.

This a dark and brutal film. And more than a little confusing, especially with the language and subtitle issues. The second act, in particular, was difficult to slog through. Seemed...pointless at the time. And long. Only to be sorta explained by the third act. But it was atmospheric and well-made, for the most part. Just feels like they could have tightened things up a little bit as it felt like it ran long. Recommended, but only if you have patience for this kind of thing. Or if you make some kind of promise to review 31 never-before-seen horror films in a month like I did. Ultimately, I found the ending to be rewarding. But I don't think many of you will make it that far.


Verdant Dude rating: 3 out of 5 pumpkins