Sep 30, 2009

Epitaph One

I don't know if any of you are still watching Dollhouse, after the near-train wreck of a first season last year. I wouldn't blame you if you have abandoned it. That's how un-inspiring the first season was.

And FOX did some odd things with the show. Fans of Firefly already know how FOX likes to fuck up a good Joss Whedon show. For the life of me I will never know why that man allowed that network access to his intellectual property again.

First, they put it on Friday night. The freaking elephant graveyard of broadcast TV programming. I know that this is 2009 and everyone has a DVR, but it is still the kiss of death to have your show moved to a Friday night. And they didn't even move it. They STARTED it on Friday nights. Nothing like an underdog story, eh?

Then they decided not to air the final episode of season one for some contractual reason that still befuddles me.

And what an episode it was! Easily the best episode of the series thus far. It was dark and depressing and it showed how truly evil this technology that they developed could be to the human race. An absolutely amazing story. Something that really could have been a springboard to the next season and the next season after that.  And it starred Felicia Day! Yum.

But you could only watch it by purchasing the Season 1 DVD. Or buying that episode on iTunes or Amazon like I did. And that's the way FOX wanted it. They wanted to have an incentive for fans of the show to purchase the DVDs.  Fucking blood-thirsty hacks!

But here is the problem. A lot of folks gave up on the show during the season. Or after the season. Had FOX aired this episode, I think it may have swayed a few viewers (at least) toward remaining with it the next season. And the second season started out pretty strong. Especially for those of us who have watched "Epitaph One".  That's how strong of an episode it was.

Anyone else out there purchase the DVD or the single episode online? I'm curious to hear what everyone else thinks of that episode and the show. I know it is disappointing to some, but I think I can see where it is going now.  And I'm in for the ride.

Well, until FOX cancels it, of course.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Did I fall asleep?

Sep 29, 2009

Man vs. Fear

Unknown male seen at Montauk pondering existence or what to have for breakfast the next day.  Rumor re-emerge the next day of another "Montauk Monster" sighting. 

What an attractive group of folks.  Except for the weirdo on the left looking like Old Man Time.  What's up with that dude?  My homes needs a grooming!

And finally, the answer to the question "How do you know you know you are in a beach town bar?"

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. You still wouldn't be able to pick me out of a police lineup.  Would ya?

Sep 28, 2009

Up is down

I'm the guy that was so affected by Jaws when I was a wee lad that I never go swimming in the ocean. Never.

And here I was this weekend, on a cool Autumn day...jumping in the ocean.

I only stayed in for a moment. Ducked under a wave and then came right out. And I hadn't even started drinking yet. It just felt like something that needed to be done.

I may even post some pics from the weekend once my buddy (who smells like a wet dog) and/or his wife sends them to me.

Then again...I may not.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. "You got some color this weekend.  You're face is really red.  Didja spend some time in the sun?"

Sep 25, 2009

One last grasp at Summer

I know that the calendar says Autumn, but we are going to pretend it is Summer for one last weekend and head out to Montauk with some friends.  But if it winds up being a bit chilly there is always a nice bonfire on the beach.

For those of you who have never been there, Montauk is a little beach town at the far east end of Long Island's south fork.  It's in the same neighborhood as the hoity-toity Hamptons, but a million miles away in terms of attitude.   It's just a shame that you have to drive through the Hamptons to get there.

And another thing...they have a particularly nice lighthouse.

Hoping for sunshine and ice-cold cocktails.



Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Montauk?  It's the End.

Sep 24, 2009

I'm a PC

So the other morning, Gia goes to check her email and get some work done on her iMac. A machine that she purchased around 3.5 years ago and one that she absolutely adores. She even recently upgraded it with more memory and a newer operating system. It's her baby.

And it stopped working.

No warning. No nothing. It just stopped doing the Mac-ish stuff that it was born to do. So we did what everyone does. We brought it to the geniuses at the Apple Store.  But we also spent some time doing our own investigation.

What we came up with on our own and what the "geniuses" confirmed is that it needed a new logic board.  Something that is a common problem with this particular model.  So much so that Apple extended a free warranty on it until 3 years after date of purchase.  A little too late for us.  But she purchased the extended warranty from Apple.  Also 3 years.  Too bad, so sad.

So the "geniuses" informed us that it will cost around $1,000 - $1,200 to replace this logic board.  I'm afraid I don't see the logic in that.  Not when you can buy a new iMac for just a few hundred dollars more.

And that, my friends, is my beef.

For virtually the same amount of money it will cost to buy a new computer, Apple will fix her old computer.  It's like they aren't even trying to hide what they are really doing.  They don't want her to fix her old computer.  The want her to buy a new one.  It's a fucking scam.

I'm been a PC guy every since PCs have been around.  And there is no one I know who has had a problem with their PC that requires an investment at the same price as a brand new one.  It just doesn't happen.  I know that people out there love their Macs, but everyone I know who has them is constantly having to get them fixed.  Gia's mother has a Mac notebook and that thing has seen as much time at the Apple Store as it has her home.  And she has only had it one year.  That thing sucks!

And I'm not talking about heavy-use owners.  Most of them use their Macs for email, web-browsing and the odd work document.  None of them use them primarily for work.

Listen, I know that computers are almost disposable use items.  They last for a few years and then you get a new one.  But usually because you want to do more, or you want to do it faster.  Not because the thing just stops working because of a defect that they knew about but won't cover because it lasted "long enough".

None of that matters.  Because Gia loves Apple and she is gonna buy a new iMac.  This one with more memory and a bigger monitor.  Yay!

The Cult of Apple wins again.

Now, I don't have a lot of experience on Macs to know if what the guy in this video is saying is true.  I mostly fumble around on one for a little while wondering why I can't do something as simple as right-click my mouse and I get annoyed and go back to my PC.  But this is how I feel today.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. I hate those stupid commercials.

Sep 23, 2009

Blogger Culinary Challenge

I have to admit, when Heff put out the challenge this month and picked bow-tie pasta as the challenge ingredient, well...I was initially going to pass. I mean how was I going to encompass the wonder that is dried pasta in a way that doesn't diminish it's complexities.  There is only so much one can do with pasta and I wasn't sure that I was up to the task.


It's actually a fun idea to pick something that just about anyone can find a recipe for.  I'm looking forward to lots and lots of creative recipes for pasta of all shapes and sizes.  Here is mine:

Farfalle con Pomodorini, Basilico e Pancetta
(Bow-tie Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Pancetta)

About a year ago, Gia took me to an incredible Italian Restaurant in NYC called San Pietro.  There was a pasta dish that they made that she raved about.  Said I must try it.  It was very simple...just spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, olive oil and basil.  But the freshness of each ingredient is what made the dish so special.  And the wonderful thing about San Pietro is that they offer recipes for many of their dishes on their website.  So I borrowed this one.  And added pancetta to the mix.  Why?  Because pancetta is Italian for BACON!!!

Bippity boppity bacon!

There's a nice pic of all the ingredients with a view of the harbor from our back yard.  It's better than the view of our kitchen wallpaper.

1 pound bow-tie pasta
2 garlic cloves
1 pound cherry tomatoes quartered
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small bunch of fresh basil
1/2 pound pancetta cut thick and diced
Salt & Pepper to taste

I wound up doubling the ingredients and making a huge batch because I was serving dinner for 4.  And I don't know about you, but 1/4 pound of pasta ain't gonna do it for me.  Or Gia.  Or her father.  But you do what you gotta do.

  1. Brown the pancetta in one tablespoon of olive oil until nice and crispy.  Then drain and set aside on some paper towels to get rid of the extra grease.
  2. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan and add the two cloves of garlic.  The recipe doesn't state specifically that you should crush the garlic, but I release the garlicky goodness.  Saute until the garlic is nice and soft and then remove with a slotted spoon.
  3. Add the quartered cherry tomatoes and any juice left over when cutting them up.  As soon as the tomatoes are steaming, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for around 7 minutes.
  4. Add as much basil as you like to the tomatoes, stir and cook for another 2 minutes
  5. Add the crispy pancetta to the mix (see note at the end of the post) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Finally add the cooked pasta (al dente) to the mix and heat for another minute or so.  Make sure you don't overcook the pasta.
Serve in large pasta bowl/dish with grated Romano cheese and a fresh drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil if you like.  You can also garnish the plate with more fresh basil and/or cherry tomatoes and serve with crusty Italian bread.

The perfect plate

As you can see, it's not a difficult recipe.  The key is to use the best and freshest ingredients.  I wasn't going to make my own bow-tie pasta so I used store-bought.  But be sure to spend the additional money for the extra-virgin olive oil.  It makes a big difference.  As do the freshest cherry tomatoes and basil that you can find.  I used Boar's Head pancetta from my local supermarket Deli counter, but I'm sure there are some wonderful Italian stores around that sell pancetta imported from Italy.

Turned out to be a delicous meal for us that night.  We all went back for seconds and thirds.  The garlic-infused olive oil goes so well with the fresh basil and sweet cherry tomatoes.  It's so simple it defies logic. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for some quick and easy, but at the same time slightly exotic. 

One last suggestion: Next time I make this I'm not going to add the crispy pancetta to the sauce in the pan.  I'm going to sprinkle it over each dish.  When you add it to the sauce, the pancetta loses it's crispiness and kind of gets lost in the mix.  And bacon, my friends, takes a back seat to no one!


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Did I mention that pancetta is Italian for BACON?

Sep 22, 2009

The Beast

Welcome to my 666th post, children.

I thought long and hard about today's topic.   666 is a milestone I never thought I would reach on this blog.  So for weeks and weeks I have been planning a super-spectacular, highly evil, knock-down, drag-out of a post.

Nah...not really.  I just noticed my number of posts yesterday so I thought I would mention it., right?

In honor of my "Number of the Beast" post here on The Verdant Dude I thought I would bless you with my top 666 Horror Films of all-time.   Whoa...that's too many.  How about my scariest 6.66 Horror Films of all-time?  Yeah...that sounds better.

Earl's Scariest 6.66 Horror Films of All-Time

6.66 - Event Horizon (1997) - I'm putting this one last, er, first (descending order, y'all) on the list because I really don't even like it.  In fact, I kind of hate it.  But that doesn't take away from the fact that I won't watch it at 2AM on a dark and stormy Autumn night because it scares the living fuck out of me.  Okay?  So many things that bothered me about this film.  How do you hire an actor named Jack Noseworthy, fer instance.  That name is just plain silly.   But Sam Neill wandering around with his eyes gouged out, glimpses of some kind of Hell dimension that looks like it probably smells really bad?  That's creepy folks.  And note worthy.  No...I didn't say nose worthy.  Sheesh!

6 - The Devil's Rejects (2005) - Say what you will about Rob Zombie.  No...go head, say it.  But the man loves Horror.  And the true test of a true disciple is how well he can make a really good Horror Film on the cheap.  And that's kinda what Zombie did with TDR.  His first film, House of 1000 Corpses, was just too much.  Too much story, too much over-produced crappy film making.  Just too much.  So when it didn't do well at the box office, he had to cut back some on some of the bells and whistles for the sequel.  What emerged was a leaner, meaner, much more scary film than the first one.  Great music, great gags, lots of great performances and nobody named Noseworthy anywhere in the film.

5 - Halloween (1978) - Speaking of Rob Zombie.  No wait...this is the John Carpenter version.  The REAL fucking version.  Still the grand-daddy of all slasher flicks, in this reviewer's most humble opinion.  Sure, Black Christmas pre-dates and heaviliy influenced it, but this one was done right.  And really, nothing has come close since.  Just a madman with a mask and a knife killing teenagers for no apparent reason.  A classic tale of the boogeyman.  Nothing more and nothing less.  Forget all the crap about Laurie Strode being his sister or whatever the Druids or the Man in Black were doing in the sequels.  This is just pure William Shatner mask.

4 - Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) - OK, don't judge me.  This, ahem...made-for-television film scared the bejeesus out of little Earl back in the day.  It was probably originally shown on a Sunday night and then replayed on local TV stations on Saturday afternoons all through my formative years.  And I had to watch it.  Every. Single. Time.  It's a little story about a woman who inherits the family homestead when someone or other bites it.  She finds a fireplace bricked up in the basement and thinks that it would be a good idea to open it up.  Guess she never saw a made-for-television Horror Film before, eh?  Well, she let's loose a bunch of pint-sized demons with wrinkly prune heads.  The hide in her plants and in her medicine cabinet and they really just wanna kill her.  So she can join them, ya see.  It would be sweet if it didn't haunt my nightmares for a decade or so.  I saw it again about ten years ago and it was pretty silly actually.  Until I turned the lights off that night.

3 - The Omen (1976) - Some people like Rosemary's Baby, and still others prefer The Exorcist when it comes to 1970's Horror.  Me?  Well, creepy little kids always scared me the most.  And the Rosemary's baby was just too young to be scary.  And Regan was a bit too old.  But little Damian?  He was just the right age to be the creepiest of the creepiest kids in those films.  Even with Gregory Peck chewing up the scenery all over the place.  I would imagine finding out that your son was really the Antichrist might have that effect on anyone.  I still get a little chill with that final shot of the film.  Damian, breaking the fourth wall and giving the audience a creepy little look.  This film is probably one of the main reasons why I never wanted kids.

2 - The Howling (1981) - You'll notice that there aren't a lot of vampires, zombies or werewolves on my list.  I've never really been scared by most of those kind of films.  I always thought they were more fun than scary, but I'm kind of a weirdo.  But this one is an exception to the rule.  Mostly.  There was a lot more camp in this one than I remembered, and the ending was just plain ridiculous.  But there are some awesome scenes of pure claustrophobic terror sandwiched in there as well.  This is another flick that has climbed my personal charts as the years tick on.  It's just so well done.  Except for the ending, of course.  Silly cutesy werewolves!

1 - The Shining (1980) - The more I see this one, the higher it moves up my list.  It's just so damn creepy and odd.  I used to be a pretty big fan of Stephen King when I was younger, but somehow that has faded over time.  But Stanley Kubrick's interpretation of King's haunted house novel (in many ways I thought Salem's Lot was a better haunted house novel, but that is neither here nor there) actually improved upon a very decent and frightening neo-classic in major ways.  The wide open spaces of the hotel and grounds only accentuate the ever encroaching madness embodied by Jack Torrance.  I really love this film.  And I love being scared by it even more.

What films, if any, scare you?

Note - I did a similar post back on Slyde's blog when I was first starting out with this blogging thing.  They haven't changed that much in the past few years. My descriptons of the films even sound the same.  Huh.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. You know what really scares me?  Your face.

Sep 21, 2009

Dr. Horrible hosts the Emmys

Not that I really give a crap. I'm probably going to set the DVR on record and watch the whole thing in FF. Maybe. Maybe not. Probably not*.

Anyway, I'm just using this post as an excuse to remind anyone who is reading this that Neil Patrick Harris is brilliant. And he is hosting the silly event. Which will be over by the time this posts.

So why not watch Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog instead? Hmmm?

Hey look!  You can watch the entire thing right here on this very blog.  How awesome is that?

*UPDATE - OK, so I did break down and watch it.  Mostly in FF just for the NPH stuff.  And I was glad I did, because Dr. Horrible, Captain Hammer, Penny and even Moist showed up for an extremely funny bit that interrupted the accountant's segment.  Captain Hammer admitting that he loved CSI: Miami but the other two CSI shows were a bit too "heady" for him had me cracking up.  Well done, Nathan Fillion.  Well done.

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. "It's not about making money, it's about TAKING money."

Sep 20, 2009

I like this font

Intrepid blogger Downtown Guy pointed me toward the following image yesterday:

I'm loving the font on the title, and I think I might have to steal it for use on this very blog.  The bloodstained sword, vegetation helmet and free-swinging boobies are jake with me as well.

Fittingly, Downtown Guy has recently started a blog called I've had dreams like that.  I say fittingly because I think I've had dreams with bloodstained swords, vegetation helmets and free-swinging boobies.  That's something that I'm gonna have to work out on my own, but you can go check out his (occasionally NSFW) blog anytime you like.  He posts images that tickle his fancy that he found somewheres on the Web.  Along with a clever comment or two.

Ch-ch-ch-check it out!

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. No seriously...I've had dreams like that.

Sep 18, 2009

Movie Macabre

Note: Hat tip to Stacie Ponder over at Final Girl for bringing this to my attention yesterday. - Earl

Yesterday was Elvira's birthday.  OK, I guess it was Cassandra Peterson's birthday.  The woman who brought Elvira to life and made happy-happy joy-joy time in young Earl's pants.  She is delicious!

There was a time back in the early-mid 1980's when Movie Macabre* was just about my favorite thing on television.  Bad horror flicks being busted on in Valley Girl schtick by a hottie with cleavage down to her navel?  Yes, please!  What was great about Elvira is that she obviously never took herself very seriously.  She often made fun of herself as much as the terrible films she was hosting.  And shakes alive...they were awful!  But in a good way, ya know?

If you are at all interested in checking out what I found so entertaining back in the day, Hulu has ten episodes available on their site.  Some really good ones too!

It's programming like this that is seriously lacking from today's late-night TV schedule.  I'd love to see a hip and funny return to action for both Movie Macabre and Elvira.  Wouldn't anyone?

Here is a very-NSFW clip from the episode "The Devil's Wedding Night".  I remember watching this one when it first aired.  The boobies, of course, were edited out on the television show.  But God(dess) bless Hulu for, um, un-editing these clips.  In other words, hooray for boobies!  Enjoy.

*Is it just me, or is "macabre" one of the best words ever?

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. All the sexy goth vampires are doing it.

Sep 17, 2009

Headline News

Sometimes I'm sucked into reading something in a newspaper or on a website solely based on the headline. Makes sense since that is the headline's freakin' job.

So in honor of Jay Leno's boring return to television, here are some news headlines that caught my eye today:

Burt Reynolds in Rehab, Reportedly Found Lying in Pool of Blood
Since the headline didn't read "a pool of HIS OWN blood" I felt compelled to read on.  Just to confirm that the Bandit had actually gone bad ass on Smokey.

Amusing End for Dad's Foul Ball

Wandering hubby found with drunken whore castrated by angry mommy.  Not. Even. Close.

Found: Firm Place to Stand Outside Solar System
I was kinda hoping that Heaven had hard wood floors. 

"Dead" GI is Alive & Well
You can all breath a sigh of relief. The military-run zombie apocalypse is still months away.

Boss at Ritzy Coach Store Sued for Asking Employee to Look at His "Weiner"...Dog
OK...The Daily News was gonna get me on this story no matter what the headline said.  But then it got even better.  Gay man at a NYC Coach store asks fellow male employee to check out the size of his weiner?  What's so special about that?  Oh wait...he claims he isn't gay.  THAT'S the news right there.

Man Puzzled to be at Center of NYC Terror Probe
Osama bin Laden was shocked, shocked I tell you. Claims he was home watching the game with a couple of pals.  Pizza and beer. Pizza and beer, my friends.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Bored Blogger Resorts to Reading the News.

Sep 16, 2009


Yeah, that's a mouthful.

In yesterday's post I briefly touched on one of my favorite subjects. Myths and legends.  I'm a huge fan, and for a while there back in the day it was all I read.  Actual myths and legends and/or novelizations of the subjects. 

Evangeline Walton was an author who introduced me to Welsh mythology, specifically the Mabinogion.  She wrote novelizations of the four branches of the Mabinogi back in the 1930's, but they weren't all printed until they were rediscovered in the early 1970's.  I was given the four books as a gift when I was either 8 or 9.  I immediately devoured them, maybe not understanding everything included in them.  But I was a re-reader back them.  I'm sure I had re-read those four novels a half a dozen times before I graduated from High School.

But I hadn't really thought about them again until just yesterday.  And you know what?  I remember most of the names and plot outlines, but the rest of it escapes me.  Guess I'm getting old.  So I'm thinking of looking for these old paperbacks in an used bookstore.  Somehow searching for something from my past like that doesn't seem to jibe with a quick Amazon search.  Yeah...a dusty old used bookstore seems more appropriate.

Here are the names of the four books.  Check out some of these names.
  • Prince of Annwn - In which the Prince Pwyll offends the ruller of Annwn before spending some time living as the ruler of the Underworld.  He then returns and encounters the beautiful Rhiannon whom he woos by trapping her bethrothed in a bag and having him beaten to death.  The classic girl meets boy, boy traps boyfriend in bag and has him beaten to death story.
  • The Children of Llyr - I remember this one being my favorite of the series.  It mostly has to do with Branwen, the daughter of the King of Britain and her marriage to the King of Ireland.  My favorite part was when a huge King Bran waded across the Irish Sea to seek vengeance against the Irish King for beating his daughter.  I forget how it ends though.
  • The Song of Rhiannon - The son of Rhiannon and the son of Branwen (from the first two stories) get together and cause all kinds of mischief.  Branwen's son actually winds up marrying Rhiannon in the classic MILF scenario.  His name, by the way, is Manawyddan.  Trying typing that five times fast.
  • The Island of the Mighty - Originally published as "The Virgin and the Swine".  Hard to believe it wasn't an immediate literary success.   Chronologically the last in the series, it was the only novel originally published back in 1936.  It's about this dude named Math whose feet must be held by a virgin at all times except while his people are at war.  I don't remember where the swine comes in.
So have any of you nerds out in Blogland ever read any of these books?  Am I the only one?


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Manawyddan, Manawyddan, Manawyddan, Mannaway...fuck!

Sep 15, 2009


"Jupiter and Callisto" by Peter Paul Rubens*

Easily my favorite planet.

Why? It's just so freakin' huge and cool, how could you not love it? In fact comets sometimes fall so in love with Jupiter that they will decide to stick around for a few years as a temporary moon!

How badass is that?

Comet: "I'm just about the coolest thing in the solar system.  Yeah, I guess that the Sun is pretty cool too, but the Sun doesn't get to scare the shit out of the Earth nearly as much as my friends and I do.  There is nothing I would rather do than take long elliptical orbits around the sun.  Nope.  That's the life, my friends!"

Jupiter: "Hello" <- deep baritone voice.  Think James Earl Jones.

Comet: "Um, hi!  Mind if I stick around for a half dozen years or so?"

Don't even get me started on the possibility of one day colonizing Jupiter's moons as a sort of way station that would help fuel our progress even further into the heavens. 

The sci-fi geek in me weeps with joy at the mere thought.

*Looks like a couple of women getting it on, right?  Turns out that the goddess Diana had warned Callisto about the evils of men.  So Jupiter, always the willing rapist, took the form of Diana one day and it was on like Donkey Kong. Jupiter was a baaaad mother-fucker.  In fact, in one of the myths, he may have actually fucked his mother.  I don't recall, but I wouldn't put it past him.  This is a dude who wanted to get it on with all of his sisters, fer crissakes!


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Titan?  Titan?  Give me Callisto any fucking day of the week.  Twice on Sundays.

Sep 14, 2009

Bullets over Autumn

There are a lot of reasons why I love Autumn, and before all you Summer sun-freaks blow a gasket...I know. I know that Autumn doesn't officially start for another week or so. Some people like to hang onto their favorite season until the bitter end. Me? I like the changing of the seasons. And here are some of the things I like about the Fall:
  • I like that it is the only season that is referred two by two different names.  Seems whimsical to me.
  • I enjoy sleeping under a blanket with the windows open.  Two things that don't really go well together during Long Island's hot and humid Summer months.
  • Fall festivals.  I can't get enough of them.  The NYC area has a bunch of oyster festivals that began this past weekend and continue through the middle of October.  I don't even really like oysters, but I do love me a festival.  Harvest festivals come in a close second.
  • Oktoberfest.  I love me some good German food and some even better German beer.  Oktoberfest usually runs through the end of September and into the beginning of October.  Great excuse to get your oompah on.
  • Layers.  As much as I love popping on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt in the Summer for sheer convenience sakes, I also love the layering options in the Fall and Winter.  A t-shirt, a sweater, maybe a fleece or a vest.  Because on any given Fall day you have no idea what the weather is gonna be like.  Layering gives you many options.
  • Football.  I'm a baseball guy through and through, but I love me some football on the weekends.  The Fighting Irish on Saturdays (fuck you, Michigan!) and the entire NFL on Sundays.  Either sitting at home with a bowl of chips or at the sports bar with the rest of the is comforting.
  • Chili.  While it may be the most perfect food invented for any time of the year, a nice steaming pot of chili on a crisp Autumn day is a wonderful thing.  Think I'm gonna make me some pretty soon.  It's like a ritual to me.  The recipe was passed down to me from my father and I'll get to pass it down to...well, my nephews I guess.  Or the cats. They dig chili also.  
  • Halloween.  And everything associated with it.  Carving jack o' lanterns, watching scary movies, dressing up in women's clothing.  Wait, what?  Anyway, I'm gonna be down in Charleston SC this year for Halloween.  I'm hoping for a slight chill in the air and maybe a ghost story or two.  Mwu-ha-ha-ha!!!
What about you?  Do you dig on Autumn as much as I do?

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. I really don't enjoy dressing up in women's clothing.  Not really.

Sep 11, 2009

We all fall down

I know you all are probably going to see a lot of these kind of posts today.  Feel free to skip it if you so desire.  It's just something I've never really talked about before and it started writing itself one day last week.  I was gonna turn off comments, but I never really like doing that.  And I'm not sure what I am saying is what I really wanted to say, but I still felt better after typing it all out than I did beforehand. - Earl

I was a 34 year-old man/child the morning that the planes hit the Towers.  Mostly child.

I was on my way to work a little late that day after golfing 9 holes in the morning with a friend of mine. I had just pulled into the parking lot when reports came in of a small commuter plane hitting one of the Twin Towers. A very close friend worked in the South Tower so I called him immediately to see if he was okay. The phone rang for a few minutes and then went to voice mail. I figured everything was fine.  It had to be.  The alternative was unthinkable. 

Then the voice on the radio said that it wasn't a small commuter plane, but a large passenger jet. And then the awful news that another jet had hit the second tower.  The unthinkable had occurred. 

Everything changed after that.

I've never really talked about it with anyone besides Gia, but I'm still not over the events of that day. I doubt I will ever be over them.  My friend made it out of there alive as did just about everyone else I know who could have perished that day. My uncle had the day off as did my brother in-law who works as a NYC firefighter. His company, however, lost a few souls. As did most stations.  He, of course, jumped in his car and spent the next several days in a Hell that I cannot begin to imagine.

I don't remember a lot of specific events from that day.  No time line of specific events.  No lasting images burned into my memory.  Well, mostly.

I do remember the look on the face of one of the women who worked for me when she said that the towers were falling. She just wanted to go home and be with her family. I didn't blame her.  Had it not been for that moment, I probably would have already forgotten about her entirely.  She was that kind of faceless colleague.  Faceless no longer.

I drove around aimlessly that afternoon. I was gonna try to get to my friend's home in Queens to make sure he was okay, but most of the roads were closed except for emergency vehicles. But I made it close enough to the city to see and smell the smoke before being turned around by the police.  In retrospect, I wish I had just stayed closer to home.

I can't help but think how my life has changed since then. I was a corporate workaholic when that day began.  80 hour work weeks weren't uncommon, nor were Sundays spent in the office.  It's just what I did.  I didn't even think about it.  Within a year I was working from home and vowing never to work in an office again.  Not because what happened on 9/11 might happen again, but because I had turned a page.

Everything hasn't turned out exactly the way I hoped.  I'm certainly not doing as well financially as I was before.  But I have Gia, and that makes up for a lot.  I don't really know if anything would be different had we not been attacked that day.  I really don't.  But if the changes in my life since that day are a coincidence, then it's a pretty strong coincidence.

One odd reminder of the day is a recurring dream I have.  Some of the details change, but the main gist of the dream is always the same.  I'm a successful professional living and working in NYC.  I've been a doctor, a stock broker, a lawyer and even a pitcher for the Yankees.  I'm on my way to work when the Towers get hit.  Instead of continuing on toward work, I head over to Ground Zero to help with the rescue effort.  I spend what seems like days helping the rescue professionals do their thing before I am finally sent home.  I always take the subway and I'm shocked to see that everyone is already going on with their lives.  They don't even notice that I am caked in dust and soot.  But I don't go home.  I go straight to work and head to the bathroom to clean up.  The dream always ends with me resuming whatever job it was that I was doing before that day.  At a desk trading stocks, pitching in Yankee Stadium, meeting with patients at a hospital.  I had moved on.

If only it was that simple.

Sep 10, 2009


OK, it's a crappy pic taken from my cell phone, but how about this smorgasbord for a nice sour lunch?
  • A garlic dill pickle
  • 2 pickled red-hot eggs
  • 1 pickled red-hot polish sausage
  • A bag of Utz Salt 'n Vinegar chips
  • An ice-cold PBR
Makes your mouth water, doesn't it?

Both the pickled eggs and the pickled sausage are fantastic, by the way.  The pickled sausage slightly more so.  I can see it won't be a problem, um, disposing of the contents of those jars.  

And how about some more kitty pictures?

Sammi and Avery enjoying an afternoon nap on the bed. He was mostly laying on top of her.

Wolowitz deciding that he prefers the blue laundry basket to the green one.

And for the record, I didn't really eat all the stuff in the photo up there for lunch even though I easily could.  Gia ate the sausage (hey-oooo!) and one of the eggs.  I chopped the other egg and put it in a tuna salad and I ate the pickle (hey-ooooo again!).  The chips remained uneaten and the PBR...well, of course I drank the PBR.  C'mon!

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Pickle in, pickle out, pickle up the water spout.

Sep 9, 2009

Celebrity News...

...usually sucks.

I'm of the opinion that magazines like People and sites like TMZ just need to go away. Because the fascination/obsession that we in this nation have with celebrities is either stupid or unhealthy. Or some combination of the two.

That being fucking awesome is this story about the San Diego Chargers Shawne Merriman spending 2 hours in jail for allegedly choking the shit out of MySpace whore Tila Tequila?   He says she was intoxicated and he was just trying to prevent her from driving home.  She says that she is allergic to alcohol and that Merriman was acting in a steroid-induced rage. 

A little backstory here:  He has used steroids in the past and she changed her last name from Nguyen to Tequila as a bit of irony.  Or so she claims.

I don't know nothing from nothing, but I do know that I've secretly been fantasizing* for a while now about putting Tila Tequila in a choke hold.  If People or TMZ ran stories about annoying non-celebrities like her getting choked then I could see myself becoming a fan of celebrity news.

Oh, and Happy 09/09/09!

*No actual celebrities have ever been harmed in these fantasies.  I'm not really a violent guy.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Why is this woman famous?

Sep 8, 2009


Since Gia was away visiting her sister this holiday weekend (::sniff::), I spent a lot of time catching up on my movie watching. Slyde and I went to go see District 9 on Sunday morning. I liked it, but I wasn't blown away like a lot of reviewers. Especially the idea of serving aliens eviction notices in the beginning. Just couldn't get past the foolishness of that.

But the real find this weekend was Quarantine.

Before any of you film nerds out there start shaking your heads and fists at me, I know it is a nearly shot-by-shot remake of the Spanish horror film [Rec].  I don't care.  I haven't seen the original, although I plan to someday, and if I have my druthers (and I do) I generally prefer my films in English.  It's the arrogant American in me. 

That being said...what a creepy fucking film!

A little slow in the beginning as the filmmaker's are setting up the action.  But after that it rapidly descends into the kind of madness that only the best horror films can aspire to.  Yeah, I ended that sentence in a preposition.  I also used "descend" and "aspire" in a relational way.  Fuck it. I'm writing this on a holiday, so the grammar police will just have to let it slide.

It's a story that never gets old.  A bunch of folks trapped in some kind of situation with a host of baddies.  In the dark.  The gimmick on this one is that it is all filmed like a documentary as a reporter and her cameraman were on-site for a story.  OK, it's an old gimmick...but it worked.

Someone, however, has to give Jennifer Carpenter a sandwich.  That woman is way too skinny!

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. And I know it's not a zombie film, but it sure smelled like one.

Sep 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day

Whoever you are.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Deal with it.

Sep 4, 2009

Ever Seen a Fish Run?

But fish don't run. They swim, right?


But occasionally a large school of fish will come surging into a harbor or bay to the delight of local fisherman, and this teeming mass of fish is sometimes called a "fish run". And I saw one today. Holy crap, did I see one today!

We live on a shallow harbor on Long Island's North Shore which leads into the Long Island Sound.  The tides are pretty drastic and at low tide there are entire sections of the harbor that are nothing more than mud flats.  Well, this morning I awoke at around 6:30 and the tide was pretty low, but I could tell it was coming in rather than going out.

After taking care of some business (going to the bathroom), I started up the computer and started reading some email and all the new posts in my feed reader.  Our living room faces the harbor and since it has been so crisp and cool lately, all of our windows were open as well as the sliding glass doors.  At around 7:15 I heard a repetitive sound that reminded me of applause.  Like there was a bunch of people out on the harbor clapping.

I looked up from the computer and had to rub my eyes.  It looked like the the harbor was boiling!  I rushed to put some clothes and sandals on and I went down to the water.  It was a massive school of bluefish that had somehow made their way into the harbor.  Probably chasing a massive school of smaller bait fish.  I had never seen anything like it.  And the tide was still coming in so the water was pretty shallow.  That added to the effect of these fish surging and flapping and leaping in the water.

It was amazing and beautiful!

Around two hours later it was high tide and the hordes of local fishermen showed up.  From the causeway at the end of our block and all along the parking lot of the church next door there were dozens of folks literally throwing shiny hooks into the water and pulling out big, mature bluefish.  I've never seen such a fish run in my life.  According to the guy who lives on a boat next door, it happens every five years or so.  But he doesn't recall any as impressive as this one.  The full moon and the extra high tides might have had something to do with it.

I walked over to the church parking lot, which borders the harbor, to see what folks were pulling out of the water and I was amazed at the number of big fish they were catching.  10 pound blues weren't uncommon.  I sincerely hope everyone was eating what they were catching and not just doing it for sport, because there were some magnificent fish in there.

I just wish I had snapped a few pictures of the action.  Our neighbor says that the last time it happened it lasted for a few days.  So if the fish come back tomorrow morning I will make sure I update this post with some pictures.  But I doubt it will approach the pure spectacle that today was.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Fish don't fuckin' run!

Sep 3, 2009

Is there anything better than a pickle?


Last week when I wrote about forgotten foods, intrepid food reporter Sybil Law mentioned that she used to love something called Penrose sausage.  A jarred sausage treat that she would enjoy on crackers with her father.  I don't know what it was about it, but it spoke to me.  I checked it out and you can still buy Penrose sausage online, but while I was searching for them I found the website for Long Lake Pickled Foods out of Northeastern Wisconsin.

And I fell in love.

The entire catalog made my mouth water.  Even the pickled pork hocks.  And I don't even really know what the fuck a pork hock is.  I still wanted some.  Pickle that shit and put it in a jar.  I'll take it.

So after little to no thought on the matter, I made my first purchase.

I went with the hot pickled polish sausage and red hot pickled egg combo.  I've never had a pickled egg before, but I've seen a bunch of films and TV shows that feature them in old man bars.  Some drunk gets hungry and he reaches his grubby paw into a grubby jar and eats an egg.  I was always semi-fascinated by that.

My bounty arrived in the mail today.  The company actually goofed up and sent me two jars of pickled eggs, so I called them up pronto to let them know about it.  A nice man called me back and told me to to keep the extra eggs on the house and he would send me the hot polish sausage lickety split.

So I'm gonna wait to try the eggs until I recieve the sausage.  Then all bets will be off.

I'll let you know how it all works out.  Or you may be able to smell the evidence from the comfort of your own homes. 


PS - The Greenlawn Pickle Fesitval is on Saturday, September 26th year.  Be there and be square.

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Consider me pickled.

Sep 2, 2009

Domestic Dude

I'm not really a stay-at-home Dad, even though I play one on TV.

We have cats instead of kids, for one thing. And I do have a semi-regular job, but one that allows me to work from home most days.  But today really felt like a domestic Daddy day.  Check it out:

  • Got up around 6-ish to finish up some work before seeing a client at their office today.
  • Fed the cats.  Shut up.
  • Cleaned out the fridge as the leftovers in there were beginning to mutate into intelligent beings.
  • Took the garbage, including the mutated leftovers, out to the curb on my way to see my client.
  • Spent three hours or so in the office. do you people do it?
  • Dropped off some of Gia's prescriptions at the pharmacist.
  • Did a small grocery shopping.  Needed some half & half.
  • Picked up the filled prescriptions from the pharmacist.
  • Did another 3-4 hours of work at home.
  • Dyed Gia's roots for her.  I did it once about a year ago and she loved how it came out so I've been doing it ever since.  Once again...shut up!
  • Cooked dinner for the two of us.  OK, it was basically heating up sauce and meatballs purchased from the Italian Pork Store around the corner, but I did cook the pasta.  Shut up!
  • Did a load of laundry and folded another two loads.
  • Collapsed on the couch to spit out this here nonsense on this here blog.

I'd be a good stay-at-home Dad.

If I could stomach kids, that is.

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. I did manage to fit in the Yankee game, though.  I need a little "me" time.

Sep 1, 2009

Mr. Sandman

I don't really know if my dreams mean anything. They are often the result of the latest movie I've seen or what I had for dinner the evening before.  And they often play out like a silly movie or a bad short story.

Case in point.

I saw Inglourious Basterds the other day with Gia.  We both absolutely loved it, by the way.  That evening we had some last minute crisis that forced us to cancel our dinner plans and we wound up having tuna fish sandwiches with Fritos as a late-night dinner.  You decide if all that somehow worked itself into this little bit of dream-noir:

So I'm a private detective living and working in some futuristic city under a fascist regime.  I don't know if it is the Nazis who are in charge because I don't recall seeing any swastikas or the like.  And the only way that I know it was a futuristic city is that there was some technology going on that isn't really available yet.   And in the dream I'm wearing this old brown trench coat.  Always in the dream...this old brown trench coat with pockets layered on the inside and out.  No fedora.  A fedora would have been cool.

I'm contacted by a woman who wants me to look for her twin sister who went missing several weeks earlier.  The only clue I have is a blue index card that has some kind of code word on it.  I don't remember what the code word was, but it was something common like "beach" or "carnival".  Nothing too exotic, so it made my job of using this clue as any way of finding where the woman went kinda difficult.

So I went about the private detective's way of detecting.  I interviewed her friends and family.  I searched her home and office.  I contacted my own network of informants and underworld associates.  Anything that might help me find this woman.

It was during a trip to her family's beach house that I noticed Big Brother was watching.  Well, this was the future so Big Brother was always watching.  But this time I spied actual authorities tailing me and even more surveillance equipment than usual in my car, home and office.  Mostly stuff that only exists in science fiction novels or films.

I became more careful in my hunt, but eventually I had to seek out the woman to let her know that I was coming up empty.  I found her at a party in some large glass-encased building.  The indoor courtyard was festooned with Greek columns and large fountains.  She was chatting with someone I assumed was a work colleague when I approached her.  I asked to speak with her in private.

I began to tell her about my failure to find her sister, but it became immediately clear to me that she doesn't recognize me or have any clue what the hell I am talking about.  In fact, she claimed that she didn't even have a twin sister.  My confusion and repeated questioning only began to anger her.  So she started to walk away threatening to call the police.

Feeling that something insidious was going on, I forcibly removed her from the party so that I could delve deeper into the situation.  We barely got outside when I was detained by a host of dark-clad figures and handed a blue index card with some kind of code word written on it.  Then the dreams goes to black as if I had been rendered unconscious somehow.

The next thing I know I was with a group of around two dozen people.  We were standing in line at what appears to be a school or some kind of government building.  No one was talking...we weren't allowed to as we were being kept in line by some kind of police officers in riot gear.  Gradually we were herded through several lobbies and stairwells until we were brought into a large classroom/conference room where we were seated and left alone.

Almost immediately, a man who looked a bit like Ron Livingston began to freak out.  He claimed that this has all happened to him before.  That he has been abducted like this a number of times previously.  He told us that the government is going to perform some kind of psychic experimentation on us.  That we were all chosen because of some common genetic anomaly in our skulls or in our teeth.  I don't know.  He was manic so he was kind of hard to understand.  But he did say that he tried eluding their sensors this time around by having radical dental surgery and doing things like filing down his bridgework.  (wtf?)

He went on to say that if the procedure is unsuccessful they wipe the memories of the participants.  Actually, he thinks they might wipe our memories whether the treatment was successful or not.  It takes some time for the failed subjects to recover before attempting the procedure again, and that is one of the reasons they kept abducting some of the same people over and over again.  Also because the genetic anomaly is so rare.

That's when he looked right at me and said "Like him!", pointing in my direction.

I had no clue what he was talking about, but then I started looking at this blue index card with the code word in my hand a little more intently and something started to gnaw at my memories.  I began searching through all the pockets in my brown trench coat and I found another blue index card with another code word on it in one of them.  This one looked like it was a bit older, like it had been in my pocket for a while.  I didn't understand.  I kept searching and I soon found another blue index card with another code word in another pocket.  This one is even older looking.  All frayed at the edges and bent like an old dollar bill that had gone through the wash several times.

I looked up at the manic man who looks a bit like Ron Livingston and he was shaking his head triumphantly.  Like I understood what was going on.

But I didn't understand.  I was more confused than ever.  And then the riot police stormed back into the room to gather us up again.  Off to the examination room, I assumed.

And that's when I woke up.  Shame, because I would love to know how it all ended.

But it leads me to think I should have skipped the late-night tuna fish sandwich.  Or at least the Fritos.

PS - The illustration above is from Neil Gaiman's comic-book masterpiece The Sandman, or one of the collected works.  I'm not sure who the artist is on that picture (couldn't find a source), but it may be Mike Dringenberg.  That would be my guess.  Someone who reads this will surely know.

Note: A new edition of the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge starts today.  Be sure to play every day.  "There is nothing like a dream to create the future" - Victor Hugo.