Dec 24, 2010

Merry and Happy

Christmas, New Year's, Holidays...whatever.

Seems like everyone else is taking some time off blogging for the holidays, so I figured I might as well join them.  You may see something here over the next week and a half.  Then again you may not.  But that's what makes it so exciting, right?

No?  Crap.

Go do it to it, people!

Bad Santa...bad!

I am I

I couldn't even stay away one day.  See what happens?

This is actually a post about a project I've become minimally attached to.  Simon Helberg, who plays Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory is married to a lovely woman named Jocelyn Towne.  She is trying to gather funds through a site called Kickstarter to make her movie called "I Am I".  You can read all about it here.

So I jumped in.  I'm also trying to get her to have her husband take a picture with a screen-shot of our boy Wolowitz for a little Wolowitz-on-Wolowtiz action.  Dunno if that is gonna happen, but they seem pretty cool about doing stuff for the cause.

Check out the video and decide if you want to back their project.  And Merry Christmas...again!

Dec 22, 2010

John Hawkes

This past weekend, Gia and I watched Winter's Bone.  And I would have to say that it was by far the best movie that I have seen in a long while, and probably the best movie I've seen in 2010.  Award season is coming up and it has already been nominated for a ton of awards, winning a few already.  Among them would be Best Supporting Actor for the feller up there, John Hawkes.

I'm sure you've seen him in films before.  He's been a character actor for a long time now.  From the liquor store clerk in From Dusk Till Dawn, to the funny Bugsy in The Perfect Storm, to his brief work on Lost as the bespectacled Lennon in the final season.  He's been around.  One of those "that guy" actors.  You've seen him, but you never really knew who he was.  I think that's all gonna change come Oscar time.  If he doesn't win, which would be a shame, he should at least get nominated.

Having seen him play degenerates and funny men over the year, I never thought I'd ever see him play dangerous.  Which is exactly what he is in Winter's Bone.  And yet that danger turns to compassion at one point...he's a very complex character.  Or maybe the character himself isn't complex, it's just Hawkes' portrayal that makes it so.  He is an absolute treasure in this film, and everyone needs to know about it.

The film is about a young woman living in the Ozarks of southern Missouri.  Taking care of her two younger siblings and her damaged mother while her father is on the run from the law stemming from a charge of cooking meth.  Eking out a bare existence, she depends on welfare and the kindness of her neighbors just to feed her family.  Circumstances arise where she needs to find her father or suffer the consequences of losing what little her family has left.  This bare and harsh film turns into a mystery at that point, as she struggles within her own particular extended familial society to find her father.

I don't really mean to single out Hawkes as the only breakthrough performance in the film. The young woman who largely carries the film is named Jennifer Lawrence, and she is amazing as well.  Her character is one of those rare celluloid heroes that come along every once in a while.  Someone who you will remember for a long time.  She deserves every accolade that she has or will receive for her acting in this film. 

As does the rest of the cast, including Garret Dillahunt, Shelley Waggener, Lauren Sweetser, Dale Dickey (she was the daytime whore on My Name is Earl!!!), Sheryl Lee and a whole bunch of largely unknown or first-time actors.  There is the small but important role played by a guy named William White.  I watched the extras on the Blu-Ray and I found out that this was his first movie, and he seemed genuinely touched that it was a life-changing experience for him. You have a feeling that a lot of actors in the smaller roles are just folks who are living on the edges of the life that this film portrays.

I loved this movie.  And John Hawkes was simply amazing in it every time he appeared on screen.  Check him and it out.

Dec 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

I'm thinking about staying up to see the lunar eclipse tonight.  First one on a solstice in just about forever.

It starts here on the East Coast around 1:32AM and will reach totality between 2:40AM and 3:50AM.  But it's real fucking cold out tonight.  And that's smack-dab in the middle of dream-time.  I dunno.

There probably will be some pretty good pictures of it on the Internet tomorrow, right?


Happy first day of Winter everyone!

Dec 20, 2010

Beer Review: Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA

Last week, I had the opportunity to try one of the greatest American India Pale Ales on the market in three different formats.  Bottle, keg and cask.  I'll explain the difference on those last two in a moment.

Firestone Walker Brewing Company began in the mid-1990's on a vineyard in Santa Barbara, California before purchasing an old brewery in Paso Robles.  Their Union Jack is an India Pale Ale, which is basically a hopped-up version of a classic British Pale Ale.  Back in the day, those wacky Brits would add more hops to their beers to survive the trip to India and the Far East.  Because hops act as a type of preservative, ya see.  The resulting brew is bitter and has a complex fruit aroma that will remind you of pineapples, citrus and maybe banana.  Depends on the nose and the actual brew.

This particular IPA has a huge pineapple aroma from all those hops.  The best IPAs have all the bitterness and citrus character from the hops, but a delicate balance of malt in the background.  And Union Jack is one of those great IPAs.  Especially considering the somewhat high alcohol content of 7.50% ABV.  Surprisingly drinkable for all that alcohol.  Bordering on dangerous.

So I've tried it in the bottle (delicious) and on draft, but the other day we also got to try it in a cask.  That's old-school brewing.  No pasteurization or added carbonation.  It's all conditioned and fermented in a cask and served in that same vessel.  You pop a spigot in the front and let the active yeasts control the carbonation and gravity assist with the pour.  Read more about cask ale here, if you are interested.

I could definitely tell it was the same IPA that I loved in the bottle and on draft, but the lack of added carbonation made it seem sweeter to the tongue.  I don't think that it actually was, but the bitterness seemed to be a bit higher in the carbonated keg or bottle format.  It's all about mouth feel at that point, I guess.

Either way, this is a sold IPA and a must for anyone who truly loves hoppy brews.  It's mostly available on the West Coast, and I've heard rumors that they may want to slow their expansion East.  But if you can get your hands on it and you like IPAs, then go for it!

Dec 17, 2010

One last picture of Sammi

Seriously, I'm not trying to turn this into a deceased pet blog.  Really.

But I just love this picture, because it truly sums up what Sammi was all about.  I may have even posted this before, but fuck it.  Sometimes twice is just as nice.

That's what she like to do.  Lay on my chest and rub her face on my beard.  And she had this one fang on the right side of her mouth that, for some reason, was longer than it should have been. She would occasionally get you pretty good with it.  Not on purpose, ya see.  She just couldn't help it.

This kind of situation was usually pretty common after she ate, when she was just looking to settle down and be loved.  The resulting fish stank from her breath was merely a bonus.

By the way, it took just this side of forever for our relationship to get this way.  At first, I was the enemy.  OK, "enemy" was a strong word. But in the beginning, I wasn't one of the chosen few who was allowed to pick her up or even pet her.  She was all claws and nasty looks for a long while.  And when a cat has one long fang on one side of her face and one glassy eye on the me, you can get some nasty looks.

But I made her my pet project, and I gradually began to pick her up and give her some love.  I always tried to put her down right before she was ready to slice me up, and I think she understood that.  It took a while, but soon enough she was sleeping on my head at night.  The way cats do.

I don't know if I believe in the concept of Heaven, but if there is one then I sure as shit hope there is a place for cats and dogs there. And if there is, then I sure Sammi is there with her best buddy Syd, and she's giving the deity in charge the stink eye.  At least until she gets used to the joint.

Note: Partially inspired by Neil Gaiman's recent journal post about his cat Princess.  I think Princess and Sammi would've gotten along famously.  Or avoided each other like the plague.

Added Bonus:  A video of two cats getting the MST3K treatment while playing patty cake.  The one on the right looks a bit like Sammi in her younger, healthier days.  Enjoy!

Dec 16, 2010

The Spirit Arrives

I finally got into the Christmas Spirit today.

I think I looked at the calendar and realized that Christmas is only like a week or so away and I freaked.  Did some Christmas shopping, put up some Christmas lights, listened to some rock 'n roll Christmas tunes.  You know the drill.  Didn't go as far as putting up a tree.  We never put up a tree.  We have a fake one, but the cats will fuck it up too much.  And a real tree...well, I think they would die from the excitement.  Besides, we mostly spend Christmas Day with our family.  Somewheres.  And we are lazy.  So there's that.

Anyway, here's my favorite Christmas song.  "Father Christmas" by Greg Lake.  For anyone who gives a rat's ass.  Hoo hoo hoo!

Dec 15, 2010

A question for the MacHeads

What is the best way to transfer a phone mail message from Gia's iPhone to an audio file that I can post here on my blog?

She did some searching, but hasn't come up with an easy solution yet.  And asking this question here is about as far as I'm willing to go for an answer.  But, if it's easy, I guarantee y'all a gut-busting time when and if I get to post a message from Gia's father that I've listened to about a dozen times now.

He is an absolute piece of work, I tell you.

I, of course, am asking this question of y'all because I don't have an iPhone or an iPad or anything else that Steve Jobs is hawking.  But Gia, gahblesshersoul, is an absolute Apple Whore.  Speaking of Apple Whores, this gives me an opportunity to see where Dave2's Apple images are showing up when I do a Google image search for "Apple Whore".

Ah...he slipped to the 5th image.  Last time I checked he was 2nd.  Tsk tsk tsk.

Dec 14, 2010

Oh Hai!

Way before our little gal Sammi passed away, Gia had her heart set on another Ragamuffin kitten.  So we contacted the breeder in Georgia who  we've used before to get on her radar for upcoming litters.  And we've decided which little fella we are going to adopt.

Say hello to York.

That picture was taken a few weeks ago, he's now 12 weeks old and Gia will be picking him up over New Year's while she is down South.  Because of his coloring, he's called a "Chocolate Drop"...I really don't know what that means.  But he does have a cute white spot on his nose, doesn't he?

We aren't in love with the name, though.  We adopted Avery from the same breeder and kept his name, even though we mostly call him Bootsy these days.  So since were are going to call him something else anyway, we decided we need to rename him.  Here are our current favorite names:
  • Loki - a mischievous name for a mischievous-looking fella.  Gia's current favorite.
  • Levon - for Mr. Helm, but I'm thinking Levon is more of a dog name.
  • The Dude - here's the problem...we already kinda know someone who has a Ragamuffin named The Dude.  Second place suck.
  • Leo - not for the lion.  But because it sounds like the name of an old curmudgeon.  And for Leo McGarry, our favorite character from The West Wing.
  • Jack Burton - my current favorite.
  • The Humungus*! The Lord Humungus! The Warrior of the Wasteland! The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla! - I dunno...maybe a little ponderous.
  • Michaleen Oge Flynn - "Impetuous! Homeric!"
  • Rails - because of the white mark on his nose.  Those who fondly (or otherwise) remember 70's/80's drug culture will get this.
  • Agador Spartacus - just in case he's gay.  You never know.
  • Dave Grohl - just kidding, Sybil.  Or am I?
  • Tom Waits - yeah.
  • Rudeboy/Rudie - it's a ska thing.  Maybe Bad Boy Rudie.  Yeah...I like that.
  • Lord Invader - there is a backstory.
Feel free to add your suggestion in the comments.  I promise not to crap all over them too badly.  Unless they really suck.

*That's how it's spelled in the credits for The Road Warrior.

    Dec 13, 2010

    One Paragraph Movie Reviews

    Saw a bunch of films over the weekend, so I thought I hit you with some quick reviews.  Because my opinion means oh so much to my adoring readers.  Humor me, okay?

    Sheitan (2006) - The French really are making some wonderful horror films these days.  And by wonderful, I mean disgusting and disturbing.  If you are into that kind of thing, and, of course, I am.  A group of young folks leave a disco after a brief brawl, and they head to the countryside with a new female friend for the Christmas holiday.  Things get weird when they encounter her family's oddball caretaker (Vincent Cassel) and some of the local crazies from the nearby village.  The caretaker has taken a particular fondness to one of the young men, and the tensions that ensue are not of the sexual nature.  Not between those two, at least.  Creepy dolls, creepy villagers, creepy cousins, creepy childbirths, creepy satanic's just creepy.  And the last 15 minutes turns into a complete nightmare.  Something right out of Rosemary's Baby or something.  Fun!

    My Netflix Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Centurion (2010) - I don't know how Neil Marshall keeps doing it, but this is the fourth film that he has written and directed (along with Dog Soldiers, The Descent and Doomsday), and they have all been tremendous fun.   Even when they wander far from the actual story like Doomsday did with the silly medieval stuff.  This one tells the tale of the fate of the legendary 9th Legion of Rome as they battled with the Picts of Britain in the early 2nd Century AD.  Sure, it's violent and often silly.  But I think Neil Marshall gets that films are meant to be fun.  I'm sure most it's riddled with historical inaccuracies as well.  Too bad.  It's not going to change your life, but it sure is a lot of fun.  All I know is that I want more genre movies from Neil Marshall.  Now!

    My Netflix Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Vengeance (2009) - Man, I loved this movie and I'm not really sure why.  It's often plodding and the English spoken by the mostly French and Chinese actors is effing ponderous.  But it grabbed me right away, and there were times I was literally on the edge of my seat when the action finally did arrive.  It's about a older French chef who comes to Macau after his daughter's family is brutally killed by a trio of assassins.  His daughter is still alive...barely, and he vows to avenge her and her family.  He stumbles upon another trio of assassins, and arranges to have them assist him with hunting down the killers.  Because he is no ordinary chef.  He is a former assassin himself.  But he also has a bullet in his brain from his previous life that is slowly killing him and affecting his memory.  The relationships he builds with his group of killers hardens almost immediately, and the film itself is about these relationships and the ideas of loyalty, friendship and sacrifice as much as it is an action flick about vengeance.  The lead is played by legendary (and hypnotically odd-looking) French singer Johnny Hallyday.  Not sure if he is a "good" actor or not, but I couldn't keep my eyes off of him.  It was slowly-paced, but beautifully filmed.  Filled with references and homages to classic Hong Kong and French cinema.  Check it out.

    My Netflix Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Dec 12, 2010


    OK, I kinda wimped out.  I didn't go as far as I wanted to with the haircut.  Just about 4-5 inches.  So it's still long enough for a ponytail if I want.  And I want.  Plus, my hair-cutting dude is gonna try to convince me against cutting it all off come Spring.  Maybe do something like Jeff Bridges latest layered style.  I dunno. 



    See?  Not so blonde after all.

    Dec 11, 2010


    Looking way more blonde than I feel like I am/was.  Then again, the longer stuff round back did get colored a bit from the summer sun and the chlorine of the pool.  But not that much.

    Tomorrow: After.  Aren't you excited?

    Dec 10, 2010

    Why should I care...

    ...if I had to cut my hair?  I've got to move with the fashions, or be outcast. - Pete Townshend from Quadrophenia

    So here's a picture of me that I posted here from about a year and half ago.  Ladies...try to keep it together, okay?

    Since then, I've gone for about 3 or 4 haircuts.  Once every 4-6 months.  Just a trim each time to keep things a little neater.  The last one was in September when I had about 4 inches of hair cut off all around. Currently, my hair is about 8-9 inches longer than it appears in the above picture.  I haven't been able to do the old top-knot hairdo in quite a while because it leaves too much hair falling past my shoulders to the top of my back for my comfort.  My everyday hairdo lately has been a ponytail.  I don't think I've worn my hair down in about 6 months now.  For more than an hour or so, anyway.

    So I'm contemplating a change.  I think that I'm gonna hit my rock n' roll barber shop down the road for a quick fix to get my hair back to the length it was in that picture.  But after that?  I'm thinking about going for the Full Monty come Spring.  The only thing holding me back is that Gia prefers me with longer hair.  She will still love me as much (she says), but she prefers the longer hair.  Honestly, I feel the same way about her.  She wants to do a real short pixie cut, but I keep talking her out of it.

    And some baldness is starting to creep in around back.  It's completely hidden by the ponytail, but it's there and I know it's there.  And I've always said that I would cut it all off if it ever became an issue.  Not that it would be an issue for anyone else but me, ya understand?  It's just something that I've always said I would do.

    Besides, I think it's good to totally change your image every few years.  Slyde will tell you that I morph into a totally different person every half-decade or so.  He jokes that the next time he sees me, I will probably be a young Asian boy.

    I think he just secretly likes young Asian boys, if you ask me.

    Dec 9, 2010

    My favorite curmudgeon

    So get this.  There is this former baseball journalist named Murray Chass.  He has his own website, a blog if you will (although he won't call it that), where he posts occasional articles about baseball.  He's not paid to do this, mind you.  It's something that he does on his own.  Kind of like a...web log of his thoughts on baseball.  If you want to find what his baseball site is about, he will tell you:
    This is a site for baseball columns, not for baseball blogs. The proprietor of the site is not a fan of blogs. He made that abundantly clear on a radio show with Charley Steiner when Steiner asked him what he thought of blogs and he replied, “I hate blogs.” He later heartily applauded Buzz Bissinger when the best-selling author denounced bloggers on a Bob Costas HBO show.
    Kind of cute.  Especially since he writes this on  But you catch the drift.  He hates blogs and bloggers.  One of his main issues with bloggers in the past has been that there is no accountability for what they write.  No journalistic integrity, no fact-checking.  It's absolute anarchy, I tell ya!  But it really gets his goat when some blogger posts some "fact" from some "source" that turns out to be complete hogwash.  The blogger, he believes, doesn't care if it's true or not.  And the blogger is under no editorial thumb, so there is no need for a redaction when the truth does come out.

    Case in point, on Tuesday a noted blogger wrote about the great shame on baseball for not voting Marvin Miller into the Hall of Fame this past week.  I'm not going to go into any depths about what Miller meant to the game, except that he definitely belongs in as an Executive of the game.  Just Google him if you are interested and you will see that just about everyone agrees on this point.  Except for certain member of the special committee that was formed, some of whom might have personal beefs with the man since they were on the other side of every labor battle.

    But this noted blogger believes he knew who it was on the committee who hadn't voted "yes" for Miller's induction.  In fact, this came from Marvin Miller's mouth himself.  From people, as he says, that told him so either directly or from other sources.  One of those people who the noted blogger outed was the writer for Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci.  I'm sure a quick call to Verducci could have confirmed this, but (as Chass notes) "bloggers can say anything that they want".  So no confirmation was needed, and the noted blogger posted his story, along with some personal attacks against Verducci's reporting abilities. 

    Turns out it wasn't true.  Verducci did vote for Marvin Miller.  And Miller called Verducci to apologize because he was just repeating something he heard and he didn't think that the noted blogger was going to publish their conversation.  Goddamn bloggers!

    Man, that must have really gotten Murray Chass' goat! 

    Wait...whoa...except that the "noted blogger" in question IS Murray Chass.  Doing everything he claims that he hates about blogging, on his non-blog that really is a blog.  Maybe a bit more investigative reporting or editorial oversight might have helped you out on that one there, Murray.  Or just simply, ya know, dropping Verducci a quick line. 

    I tell you...I love this story so much I want to take it to Bermuda and get it pregnant!  My favorite thing about it is that Verducci calls Chass a blogger about a dozen times in his story about this that I linked to up there.  That must REALLY drive Chass crazy.  Except that it probably doesn't.  Because he is always right and we are always wrong, and he probably won't even read Verducci's column.  He certainly won't take himself to task for something he is constantly railing at windmills about.

    How's that glass house you're living in treating ya, Murray?

    Dec 8, 2010

    You ain't no nice guy

    More and more lately, I've been thinking about the Michael Vick situation.  Musician Nils Lofgren recently wrote an open letter to the sports reporting community about their abject praise for the man and his career turnaround as the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.  While his views on the subject might seem a bit one-sided against Vick, I tend to agree with him on most of his points.  He said to the press what most of us caring human beings feel about the situation.

    Basically his argument came down to this:
    In Vick's case, I believe his second chance should certainly allow him to be free and to love and raise his family. [break] However repentant he may be, he committed acts whose vileness will resonate down the years. When you do what Vick did, a second chance should never include the rare gift of an NFL career and the potential bounty it offers.
    I absolutely agree with that sentiment, and the fact that it has happened so successfully sickens me.

    Now, despite being a New Yorker all my life I've also been a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan.  Doesn't make a lot of sense, but I think it came from gifts from an aunt who lived in the Philadelphia are as a child.  Eagles hats, jerseys, sweatshirts and what not.  They became my favorite NFL team by default.  Like how Notre Dame became my favorite college football team.  I was raised Irish Catholic in Long Island and we have no good football schools for miles and miles.  Bam...Fighting Irish fan.  And believe me, we are legion in this area.

    But Michael Vick has soured my relationship with the Eagles.  I was upset when they signed him last year, but I was at least was happy to see him ride the bench for most of it.  Then they lose McNabb and presto...Michael Vick is the starting quarterback.  And he is a candidate for the league MVP.  And he is leading my formerly beloved Eagles to the playoffs.  Yeah...I said formerly.  I just can't watch them anymore.  And NFL football as a whole, actually.  He's ruined my enjoyment of the game.  You see, Michael Vick is a bad guy.  And I just can't get past that.

    I think about the Kobe Bryant rape trial a few years back.  He admitted to having sex with the woman who filed the complaint, but he denied any sexual assault.  The case was eventually dropped when the woman was paid, refused to testify at the trial.  Yeah, that's what I meant.  But there were these throngs of women outside the courthouse with "I love you, Kobe!" and "We believe you, Kobe!" signs.  I just didn't understand that.  At the very least, Kobe Bryant admitted to cheating on his wife with this woman AND he possibly got away with a sexual assault because of his money and cachet.  Why would women support him for any reason?  You see, Kobe Bryant is a bad guy.  And I just can't get past that.

    I could go on and on.  You've got Ben Roethlisberger who now has two sexual assault allegations to his name to go with his two Super Bowl rings.  The first one sounded like bullshit, but I don't know about the second one.  No charges were filed for lack of evidence, but it SEEMS like he keeps putting himself in these situations where he is a bad guy when women are involved.  Yet Steelers' fans, even the ladies, love him.  Must be those rings, eh?  Then there is Ray Lewis' involvement in a murder case, Adam "Pacman" Jones' off-field activities, all the MLB steroid gobblers, the NHL's Sean Avery and his misogynistic attitudes...all bad guys, in my opinion.  And I just can't get past that.

    Then you have the guys who have outwardly done nothing wrong, but who seem to be in it for the money alone.  I wouldn't have put Derek Jeter in that category before this off-season, and I'm sure he's going to say all the right things about accepting "only" $18 million a year from the Yankees.  And the pragmatist in me knows that if Jeter doesn't get that extra money from the Yankees, it's only going to go into the pockets of the Steinbrenners.  The fans certainly aren't going to get a break either way.  So the guy who has said and done all the right things in his career, seemed to hold out for more money even after his worst season ever at an age when ballplayer's skills begin a rapid decline.  His agent will say that he is still taking a pay cut from what he had been making, and that's true.  Jeter has already made a huge pile of money with the Yankees, and he earned just about every penny of it.  Except he feels he deserves more.  Or his agent feels that way.  It's just so sickening.

    I don't think there will ever be a time when I will NOT be a huge baseball fan.  It's my favorite sport. I even somehow managed to get past the Steroid Era, and I'm still a huge fan.  And I'm not just a Yankee fan.  I love the game itself.  I only root for the Yankees, but if nothing is on and I find a Royals/Indians game on somewhere?  I'm happier than a pig in shit just watching the game. 

    I wonder if that would change if the Yankees had signed a guy like Michael Vick to play center field.

    Dec 7, 2010

    Earl's Kitchen - Gaeng Massaman

    Over the weekend, my sister had us over along with some friends of ours for another round of karaoke madness and drinking.  A wake, of sorts, for our kitty Sammi who passed away last week.  A night that both Gia and I really needed.

    I made a batch of Bacon Bourbon for after-dinner cocktails that helped fuel the karaoke fire, but we started the night off with a bunch of home-made Thai food prepared by yours truly.  My sister and her husband have never had Laab/Larb, so I made two different batches of that (beef and pork).  And since we needed something else, I tried my hand at a simple version of Gaeng Masssaman that veered a little bit from the traditional recipe.

    Gaeng Massaman (kinda)

    not my Massaman...but it looks about the same

    • 2 pounds chicken breasts
    • 2 pounds small golden potatoes
    • 3 tsp massaman curry paste/red curry paste
    • 1-2 tbsp peanut oil
    • 3 14oz cans coconut milk
    • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • Unsalted peanuts for garnish (optional)
    • Salt and ground white pepper to taste (optional)
    I really veered a bit from the traditional recipes (which you can find elsewhere on the web) and focused on making it a simpler "meat and potatoes" kind of dish since I wasn't really sure if my sister and her husband were really going to like the Laab I made (see my recipe for that here).  And the sweetness of this dish goes wonderfully with the savory of the Laab. And it has enough savory to hold its own too.

     - Poach the chicken first in a covered saucepan with about 3/4 of a cup of water, just until the chicken is cooked all the way through.  Poaching it this way will keep it moist before we slice it up and add it to the Massaman.

     - Clean and quarter the potatoes (or halve them if they are small enough), leaving the skin on because that's where all the good stuff is.  Steam them for about 5 minutes in a covered pot so that they cook a little bit but are still firm to the touch.  They will cook the rest of the way in the Massaman.  Drain and set aside.

     - In a deep, large saucepan heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat, and then add the curry paste.  (Sidenote: you should be able to find the curry paste, coconut milk, peanut oil and the fish sauce in your market's Asian food section, or you can visit a specialty food shop for those items).  Frying the curry paste will release the flavors and oils, and it just smells really good.  I used red curry paste because my local grocery didn't have any Massaman curry paste, and it came out tasting fine. 

     - After about a minute, whisk in the coconut milk one can at a time.  After it starts a low boil while you are whisking away, add in the brown sugar until it is dissolved and mixed in really well.  Add the fish sauce to give the Massaman a little salt flavor or just some salt to taste if you can't find any fish sauce.  You can also add some ground white pepper to the mix, if you so desire.  Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.

     - After slicing up the cooked chicken into bite-sized chunks, add to the Massaman along with the semi-cooked potatoes.  Cover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

     - Serve either on its own or over some cooked jasmine rice in a soup bowl.  It should look like a stew at this point. You can either add the peanuts right at the end or you can simply sprinkle some on top.  Or leave them out altogether, like I did.

    That's it!  Extremely simple and extremely tasty.  You can find some more traditional recipes that call for other meats and ingredients, but like I mentioned earlier...I wanted to keep this real simple for it to have a broad appeal.  For a first-time recipe where that I was mostly making up quantities as I went along, it came our really well.   Enjoy!

    Dec 6, 2010

    Still Only 25¢: Captain America #193

    Disclaimer: Part of an on-going series of blog posts about comic-books, the mid-70's and a wee boy named Earl. Or not really. You know my name isn't really Earl, right? - Earl

    The 70's were are weird time for Captain America. He had to deal with the supposed death of his sidekick, Bucky. He fought against our own government in Marvel's version of Watergate. He took on another young man as a sidekick (Rick Jones), but hesitated to let him don the Bucky uniform. He rejected the Captain America persona for a little while...becoming Nomad before ultimately deciding that America was worth fighting for. And he spent most of the decade in a partnership with a man whose only apparent super-power was a psychic link with a bird.

    The Falcon was the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics. As a black superhero, he was preceded by the Black Panther by a few years, but the man behind the mask for that character was actually from a fictional country in Africa. Sam "Snap" Wilson was the very first black superhero from the United States. And his (controversially ret-conned) origins were straight out of that particular period's depiction of African-Americans. He was born in Harlem (of course), the son of a minister (naturally), a former social worker (solid!) and a former criminal, gang member and...pimp (there it is!). His "super-power", if you could call it that, is an extremely close and paranormal bond with his bird friend; a falcon named Redwing. He wasn't super-strong nor could he fly. He just was really good friends with a bird. Sure, his abilities later grew so that he could establish psychic links with any bird or any number of birds at the same time, but in the 1970's all he could do was be really good friends with this one bird. And wear a snazzy outfit.

    OK, so Cap trained him in martial arts and gymnastics (hehe), but really...this is about the lamest super-power ever invented. Another clear case of the Man keeping a proud black man down.

    I don't have any lasting particular memories about this issue of Captain America. I know that it was the first time that Jack Kirby returned to the series as the main artist since his Silver Age work on the character in the 1960's. It was a nice throwback touch, and Kirby tried to get Cap into his iconic fist/shield pose as often as he could. With the Falcon lurking somewhere in the background, of course. But as for what's inside? Nah..I don't really recall.

    I do have one distinct memory of Cap and the Falcon from this time period though. Like the geeky kid that I was, I had several cheesy comic-book related t-shirts. One of them was a crusty yellow thing with a terrible silk screening of the good Captain and his buddy. And it clearly said "Captain America and the Falcon" right above the picture of the two heroes. But, for some reason, there was a family friend of ours who couldn't wrap her brain around which one was which. Even though the Falcon was dressed in a bird costume and Captain America looked...well, like Captain America!

    So every time she saw me for around a year or so after I first wore the shirt, she would tuck her hands into her armpits, mimicking a flying bird and she would yell "Captain America....CAW, CAW!!!" I never quite understood why she did that, and it took me a long time to finally ask her exactly why she did. She told me that it was because of that dumb shirt I wore where Captain America wore an even dumber bird costume. So she saw the words "Captain America" and the guy dressed like the bird, and somehow that's all that got processed in her teen-aged brain. I told her she was confusing the Falcon's costume with the star-spangled hero's name, yet she insisted that it was just one guy on the shirt...and he was dressed like a fucking bird.

    The butt of a misinformed joke from a family friend. Probably serves me right for wearing a truly awful t-shirt like that.

    Dec 3, 2010

    Dirty Legs

    I've been noticing something more and more lately after I shower each day. I don't seem to pay as much attention to my legs as the rest of my body when scrubbing down. Weird, right?

    I'm a fanatic about scrubbing. I use one of these to really go at my skin. And I really do go to town. Face, shoulders, arms, torso, back, naughty bits...and feet. But for some reason as I make my way down from my upper thigh area to my feet, I seem to give my legs on the most cursory of scrubs. And I don't know why.

    More to the point, I know that I'm doing this and I'm doing nothing about it. Isn't there a clinical term for that kind of inaction?  I mean, if I actually think about it before I start scrubbing, I will take some extra time with my legs.  But I normally don't think in the shower.  Or at least I don't think about showering when I'm in the shower.  I think about everything else.

    It's not laziness. It takes far more effort to scrub my back or my feet (there will never be a fungus among us). Maybe I subconsciously believe that my legs from my upper thighs to my high ankles don't get as dirty as the rest of my body. It's a mystery to me.

    Fascinating stuff, eh?

    Note: Remember to play the Badgerdaddy Trivia Challenge every day. And I couldn't even find a way to make this interesting.  Move along...

    Dec 2, 2010


    I think I might have a new favorite TV show.

    It's called Torchwood and it's a BBC production and a spin-off of the latest reboot of Doctor Who. Now, I was never a Doctor Who fan. In fact...I just didn't get the appeal at all. Cheesy special effects, cheesy storylines, cheesy scarves. Just a whole mess of cheese. But I also never really gave it a chance.

    When the reboot started back in 2005, I did give it another try. And I did find that I kinda liked it. Not enough to keep watching, but enough to earn some begrudging respect for it. I think I stopped watching after about 6 episodes.  Right before the main character from Torchwood was introduced.

    But Torchwood (an anagram for Doctor Who) is an entirely different beast. Made to be shown later in the evening, it has higher production values and more adult content. The makers of the show wanted to do something similar to those early episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but ya know...with British accents, cursing and some partial nudity.  And you know how I love me some Buffy.

    So I jumped in the other night with the first episode of Season 1. And I loved it. It's a great idea and far enough away from Doctor Who that my past prejudices haven't come to light.  Now I have all three seasons queued up on my Netflix Instant account and ready to rock and roll.

    And I kinda dig Eve Myles who plays Cardiff policewoman Gwen Cooper.  She's got these great freckles and a goofy sexy space between her two front teeth.  Ah...I can't explain it.

    Note: Remember to play the Badgerdaddy Trivia Challenge every day. The space is sexy, right?  No?  Just me?  Crap.

    Dec 1, 2010

    Sunny Side of the Street

    Thanks for the kind words yesterday. It really meant a lot.

    Hopefully, today, Sammi is walking on the sunny side of the street.

    Don't you just love that photo of Shane?