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16th November 2009

10:33pm: I'm going up to Bellingham for the weekend while D+D are in town, and I may or may not have a place to sleep. Anyone got a couch to spare?

15th November 2009

12:31am: OK, Wild Zero is the best worst Japanese movie ever -- it's got aliens, zombies, exploding heads, unconventional romance (including, but certainly not limited to, zombies-in-love), fire shooting out of things that shouldn't shoot fire, a hounds-tooth swim suit with lapels, buckets and buckets of fake blood, and most of all the power of ROCK and ROLL.

9th November 2009

8:26pm: Steak pie my way
Continuing in a tradition of dealing with grief through cooking, I've got a batch of the filling for this simmering on the stove, and I figured I'd pass along my recipe. Some parts of this are pretty traditional, and parts are my own addition (and might make a traditional welsh housewife blanche, but oh well).

For the meat, I like to use about three quarters pounds skirt steak or other lower-grade cuts of beef, a quarter pound of heart, and a quarter pound of kidney; however, since most US grocery butchers don't even stock organ meats anymore, if I don't have time to go out of my way to visit to my local butcher (Golden Steer, who truly are fantastic), I'll stick with just the steak. Chop the steak and heart into managable pieces (in the case of pre-chopped grocery store "beef for stew," cut each piece in half), and layer the two in the bottom of a casserole (I usually just use my pie pan for this; this forces me to clean as I go and thus means one less dish at the end). Pour in a tablespoon or two of soy sauce -- this is my secret trick in any gravy or stewed beef dish, espescially when using lower-grade beef; the added umami really brings out the meatiness (I was gratified to see the pros back me up, too). Let that marinate for a bit, then drain and pat dry with paper towels. Cut up the kidney, patting it dry as well, and dredge the meat in a mixture of flour and black pepper. Heat up about a tablespoon of bacon fat or lard in a heavy skillet, and brown the beef over medium-high heat. Once evenly browned, add a 12-oz bottle of beer of your choice (red wine works too, if that's how you roll), reserving two decent pulls for the chef, and turn the heat to low. Scrape the bottom of the pan well to mix in the pan drippings. Add one medium-large turnip, chopped in a quarter-inch dice, and a handful of frozen peas, along with your choice of herbs and spices (I'm big on oregano in stewed beef dishes). Cover the pan. While that simmers, trim 6-8 medium brussels sprouts, and chop into quarters or eighths, depending on size. Place in the bottom of a heat-safe bowl. Once the turnips are just starting to soften up (remembering that this will have some more time to cook in the pie), pour the hot gravy over the sprouts and mix well (the heat of the gravy and baking the pie will cook the sprouts plenty). This mixture is best refrigerated overnight before adding to the pie, though it can be added right away; it still helps to let it cool a little before baking. Prepare your savory pastry by your preferred method -- people are picky about their pie crust, so I'll leave this part to you. Some of my personal hints, to do with as you'd please: Replace as much of the shortening as you're comfortable to with butter and bacon grease -- I'll generally substitute at least a tablespoon of each. Replace some of the water with brandy; alcohol moistens flour but does not activate gluten, so by using it in place of some of the water greatly decreases toughness; plus, the brandy adds a hint of extra flavor to the crust (thanks to Alton Brown for introducing this technique to my repitoire). Pour about two thirds the filling into the bottom pie shell, then a layer of sliced cheese -- I like a mild but earthy cheese here; I've had good results with gruyere and port salut, but the real fun is looking at what's fresh and cheap at the cheese counter and think "Hmm, wonder how that'd be?" Add the rest of the filling on top, and affix your top shell. Bake till golden brown, adding an egg wash if desired. Allow to cool about fifteen minutes before cutting and serving.

4th November 2009

9:51pm: Internalization
The cat just found my yarn bin. I tried pointing out how far he's setting his species back by perpetuating that particular stereotype, but he didn't seem to care.
9:43pm: Drawing the line


Honestly, though, who among us hasn't been here?

...

Oh, really?

Yeah, uhh, me neither.

3rd November 2009

11:43am: Well, I just got back from a catnapping. Since Grandma and Grandpa's stay in MS has been extended indefinitely, they were worried about their cat Valentino, who has a neighbor coming over to feed him but who's been pretty much alone since they left, so I was talked into driving down to Kirkland, stuffing the cat in a carrier, and dragging him up to Kirkland. (Tino had other ideas; he wasn't terribly articulate in expressing them but I think they were along the lines of "I'll scratch your face off." I explained that, while emotionally satisfying, his proposal didn't do much to solve the problem at hand. Like any good demagogue he stuck to his guns, so we put it to a vote, weighted by size and presence of higher cognitive function, and the crate-and-car idea won the day.) I've got him in the bathroom right now until I'm convinced he's rediscovered the concept of "litter box" (he was an outdoor cat down in Oly, and really can't be here for various reasons).

1st November 2009

6:50pm: Win.
Found this looking for some furniture on craigslist:

Dresser for sale,

29 1/2" Tall
66" Long
18" Deep

Sings of wear and tear from use.
Cash only


I totally want singing furniture, even if it sings blue.

31st October 2009

10:15am: WA and BC geographical naming authorities have now officially adopted the Salish Sea nomenclature. (For those who don't know, the "Salish Sea" is the name that was proposed recently as a colletive name for the inland waterway including the Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and adjoining bodies. I like the idea -- first, it creates a collective term for three bodies of water that always seemed a little arbitrarily divided (espescially the Sound and the SoG); second, the naming honors the many peoples who lived off these inland waters long before Puget, Barkley, or Vancouver came to "discover" them. It's yet to be seen whether this'll catch on in common usage, but I'll be using it.

30th October 2009

11:23pm: "How can we get the whole country to listen to a massive dick joke?" "What if it was for a good cau
"For just $10, the price of a Holland Tunnel handjob, you can stop the suffering, instead of cheating on your wife with a transsexual. Please, let little Donny's penis touch you like it's touched so many others.

24th October 2009

10:21am: Dear South Carolina:

STOP DIGGING.

18th October 2009

12:29am: Freeway Games
So hanging out with a group of people, and an opportunity came up to go elsewhere to extend the fun, so we decided sure why not. Problem is, only one person knew the way, and it was one of those addresses where GPS units and MapQuest tend to get lost, and the person who knew the way didn't know street names for sure, and so forth. So after spending a while trying to pass a map onto just one of the people going and getting utterly confused, she decided we should just try caravanning it.

We consolidated to as few cars as possible, but because of people needing to leave earlier or later, people leaving in opposite directions from where we were going, and so forth, we ended up needing to take a total of five cars to get there. Now, if you've tried the caravan method, you know that if there are any stoplights, left turns, freeway onramps, etc on the way, it gets really tough once you hit three, and nigh on impossible later. Sure enough, I'm car number three, and even just coming out of the parking lot I get stuck waiting on a left turn and thus a couple of cars back from the lead two. I see that car four behind me is nowhere near, but since I have cars in between me and the lead I can't blink headlights to let them know. Pretty much immediately I lose sight of them several blocks behind. Fortunately car four was the folks who had the wonky map, so I crossed my fingers and did my best to follow.

I got stuck behind one more changing light, so by the time we got to the freeway onramp I was several cars behind. Through some fancy driving I caught up, eventually. By this point I was feeling the adrenaline excitement that comes with following a caravan -- more on this phenomenon after the rest of the story. So we're chugging along, and a good deal of the way along some jerk cuts in to the middle of our group. Some jerk with... a kind of familiar car. Sure enough, hands out the window waving, a wink of the hazards -- it's car four! Still no sign of car five. We get off the freeway at our exit, and are sort of waving and whooping out the window at the stop light, even if there was a bit of "Hey anyone seen Yuka? Too bad..." going on. We continue on, and a few lights later someone else merges into the middle of our group. Again early annoyment, then -- "Yuka?!?" Sure enough we'd all gotten back together -- pretty amazing since (A) Yuka's car had to guess the light, (B) given that we were doing the usual a little over the limit speed, she had to be driving like a bit of a maniac to catch up, and (C) we had only had a quick look at each other's cars before leaving, and it was late dusk at the time.

There's something about following someone else on the freeway that, if frustrating, is much more exciting than regular driving. A part of it is it's one more task than the usual point-a-to-point-b of driving, and there's some excitement in pretending it's more serious than getting to the next party -- there's a little of the secret agent/blue angel pilot/whatever in all of us, and chasing someone down or flying in formation or whatever makes us feel special. But I think there's something more. Driving is essentially a non-social behavior; even if you're interacting with others, it's alone-in-the-crowd style, and you generally interact with them as automata, albeit unpredictable ones. Even when there's someone in the car with you, the driving itself is essentially a lonesome pursuit. When you're following someone, or even better driving in a longer caravan, though, the other cars are people you identify with as humans, and in the mildly cyborganic way your self-identity extends to become identical with your vehicle when you're driving, suddenly your group of people extends to be a society of automobiles. This may account for the unavoidable urge on the part of drivers and passengers to wave and make silly faces to the cars in front or behind you.

The funny thing is, as silly as it might seem, I kinda feel like this shared experience of seperation and reunion on the road really furthered the bond between the members of the group involved in a real way. Is this just another example of how stupidly attached to our cars we are in our culture? Maybe, but I think that's of secondary importance to the story.
Current Mood: close

17th October 2009

11:00am: Ho-ho-hoing in the wind...
I love how all of the critical reviews I've come across on the Dylan christmas album has been along the lines of "When I heard Bob Dylan was releasing a christmas album, I was willing to reserve judgement -- I didn't see how it could be any good, but you never know?" People seem slightly surprised that it's awful.

Guys, how exactly could it have been anything but awful?

Seriously.

11th October 2009

1:56am: Young Fresh Fellows; Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus Three w/ Special Guests
Too tired for a full rundown. Suffice it to say: Both acts were great, Robyn is every bit as out-of-this-world live as everyone says, and "with special guests" meant, among others, that Sean Nelson came on after the first song of Robyn's set and sang backup the rest of the show, and Chris Ballew came on during the encore to play and sing a few songs as well. Robyn started with I Often Dream of Trains (with a really amazing solo at the end) and ended the main set with a mind-bending Goodnight Oslo, and finished off the encore with Briggs. Other highlights included a great cover of The Ballad of John and Yoko.

Also my first show at the Croc since the renovation -- what a difference that makes. Robyn kept making jokes about facing the wrong way.

3rd October 2009

6:28pm: One more reminder -- Robyn Hitchcock at the Crocodiles next Saturday! Young Fresh Fellows are opening! There are still tickets out there, and it'll be seriously fun.

2nd October 2009

6:13pm: Best latin binomial ever...
The Titan Arum. Not only is it the posessor of the largest known unbranched inflorescence in the world, not only does it look like a prop from Day of the Triffids, but it also has the best latin name:

Amorphophallus titanum, or "Giant formless/misshapen penis."

*looks at pic again* Huh, I wonder how it got that name?
3:50pm: And the crazy part is, the same thing happened this same time last year! Conspiracy?


This is one of my least favorite bits of small-talk.

29th September 2009

7:04pm: Interesting...

Do our computers think we count in base A? (Or, alternately, in base 1010?)

28th September 2009

11:09pm: Awwww...
6:18pm: I just opened a package I bought of "thick-cut bacon." The way it was arranged in the package it ws difficult to visually judge but I took the package's word.

The only way I can make this anything but blatant false advertising is to remind myself that "thick" could be perceived as meaning "having thickness." This bacon is certainly at least three planck's lengths thick.

25th September 2009

11:01pm: Baking time! I love fall...
Just put squash-apple bread in the oven. Actually, I actually put one loaf of squash-apple bread, a dozen squash-apple muffins, and a brownie pan of squash-apple bars in the oven, all from the same batter. Not so much out of some great desire for the same bread in three distinct shapes, just because I don't have enough loaf pans.

Did a basic three-loaf quickbread recipe, with whole wheat flour and a good glog of molasses, half a baked blue Kuri squash (locally grown! And the other half's in the freezer waiting to go in something else wonerful), and diced apples for some texture. It's already starting to smell lovely.
6:53pm: I know it's old as dirt, but I hadn't watched this in a long while, and it's still effing hilarious.

24th September 2009

7:59pm: Best headline ever...
I loved this headline so much I had to do something with it...

funny pictures

Click to vote it up...

18th September 2009

5:01pm: Robyn Hitchcock Sat 10/10
I mentioned this earlier in the summer, and now it's possible that I won't be able to make it myself (got a possible family obligation, and that comes first, as painful as it may be), but this show is going to be off the hook. $20 advance tickets. Robyn will be playing with the Venus Three (REM's Peter Buck, The Young Fresh Fellows' Scott McCaughey, and Ministry's Bill Rieflin), with the Young Fresh Fellows opening.



Sweet-looking poster, too.

10th September 2009

6:29pm: This Saturday.

Because time travellers > pirates any day.

8th September 2009

7:21pm: When someone refers directly to a parenthetical statment later in the sentence but outside of the parentheses, is it allowable to reach through the internet and slap them?
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