Friday, March 06, 2015

Cooking with Blobby

You know me - always looking for new dinner ideas. Preferably easy ones.....or at least uncomplicated.

I don't mind a challenge in the kitchen, but if I'm playing around, I want it at least to come out looking decent and tasting good.

Is that too much to ask?

As it goes, it doesn't get much easier than Dijon Pork Loin.

Seriously, there are five ingredients. Five!!!! There really isn't a lot to do, though the cooking time is the most cumbersome thing about it.

1/2 stick - unsalted butter (melted)
2T - all purpose flour
2T - Dijon mustard
4T - steak seasoning (I used McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning)
1 boneless pork loin roast (I went with a 2.5lb one)

In a small bowl, combine the first four ingredients. It makes a basically a paste to rub onto the pork loin. 

I probably used 3.5 T of the steak seasoning and for me, that was plenty. There is a LOT of sodium and red pepper flakes in there, so it does make the soon-to-be crust of the pork a little spicy....and at certain bites, a little salty. 

I patted dry the pork loin and placed it on a foil covered sheet, pre-heating the oven to 450F. 

I also (probably) made the mistake of salting and peppering the pork loin liberally. Pork doesn't have a lot of flavour so it needs help. Not really thinking it through with the steak seasoning, it might not have needed additional salt. 

For 20 minutes, cook the pork at the 450F temp, then reduce the heat to 350F and cook for 50 additional minutes or until the meat registers 150F.  Remove from oven, tent with foil, leaving it set for 10-15 minutes. 

Internal temperature should raise close to 160F. 

Carve and serve. 


By the way, this could have easily served 4 or maybe 6. We will have pork for the next few days, so I'll have to think of ways to repurpose the loin, as I'm not sure I want it served the same way multiple times. 

It was a hit with 710. And even Petey got a taste and he seemed happy - though he isn't really the benchmark if it was good, as he'll eat just about anything. 

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Scooter and Jinx

As HBO goes, you know, Girls is fine (and has had its moments this season). Looking is fine (it's slow, methodical, but still enjoyable - though no appearance by Julia Duffy this season...yet).

But for me, this Winter season, it's all about a documentary / interview / investigation show called the Jinx: the Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.

The show is brilliant in its own way.

Years ago, I caught a story about Durst - though I didn't remember the details or his name - and the tale that was told (New York?  Vanity Fair?  Highlights for Children? ) seemed to be a little one-sided, as most articles related to crime seem to do.

I'm not sure why we turned on the Jinx, but glad we did.

It is a six part series (we are four in, so far) that starts with the discovery of a dismembered body in Galveston Bay.

The show isn't chronological and skips back and forth across decades, and just the way the director / interviewer (I've seen him before, and cannot place where) put it together completely makes sense. At least so far.

Durst is an odd-ball at best. A triple murderer at worst.

I think it is in the second episode that we find Durst's father woke the then 7 year old Robert up in the middle of the night so he could witness his mother jumping off the roof of their house to her death.

That is one fucked up father.

How does that not fuck you up for life.........and on multiple levels.

My father criticized how I played golf - I think that was my big trauma.

I won't say it explains the things he allegedly does (again, there's that potential triple murder thingy), but you might have a hard time saying the man was mentally unfit.

And yes, I did say alleged murders. In this series, they are tracking three. One of which we know the outcome (no spoiler alerts here in case you plan on seeing re-airings or on demand), so far with the other two we do not.

It would be easy to go out and read things on-line, but so far 710 and I have resisted, as we are just fascinated by the main character and don't want to know where this is going.

No doubt residing somewhere on the Autism spectrum, Durst has almost no filter, no remorse (assuming he has anything feel sorry for) and speaks very candidly - almost too much so. But he does it in a way that finds both 710 and myself laughing out loud.

There is a good cross-section of family interviewed here, along with victims families, friends, neighbors, police, judges, lawyers (defense and prosecutors), jury members, etc. But the main character is Durst himself - and he's interviewed extensively.

Right now, the story seems fair and balanced - as the filmmakers wade through the oddities that is Durst and his life (he's an heir to a billionaire father who owns NYC real estate such as the Elias Clark Conde Nast building). But even the police and lawyers seem to be shaking their head over the weirdness of the situation and turn of events.

I'm dying (pun intended) to see how it all turns out.



Song by: Sonic Youth

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Too Little Too Late

It is one of those days where I got nothing. Or next to nothing.

Writing an entry a day can be taxing. It's not the writing, it is the coming up with ideas.

I'm finding that with dinner too. I totally get where my mother is coming from when she says she doesn't mind cooking, she just hates trying to figure out what to make.

I'm right there. Sure, I can whip up any of a dozen stand-by things, but sometimes you want something different - you just don't know what. And there is planning to do - like shopping and prep time.

Though I did make another batch of chocolate chip cookies. I used a melon baller to measure out each scoop and I put fewer on each tray - and they came out perfectly. So, now I am a master baker, apparently.

--------

March weather is improving in certain ways. We made it to 40F yesterday - first time in almost two months. Unfortunately, it came with freezing rain.

Poor Mr. Pete just slips and slides when he walks out to do #1 and / or 2. It's not even amusing to watch, it's actually a little distressing.

...and of course, it's going back down to 9F tomorrow, so that should fuck up enough things for a day or two.

---------

Let's see - what else..........

My friend Jeremy is in DC for work. I've missed him a lot since he moved to Atlanta, but we chat almost every day, so I can thank Al Gore for inventing the internets for that.........and of course, porn.

Anyhoo - J-boy, is staying at the Hinkley Hilton (ewww). You know how there are always multiple events going on at these places - you know, like Jodi Foster Fan Club meetings. None of Jeremy's functions were there - just his temporary bed.

However, Emily's List was hosting some kind of event there (where according to the NYT, Hillary Clinton was speaking). Emily's List raises funds for pro-choice female candidates. They actually do good work (my opinion). But wherever they go, pro-lifers are right behind.

So as Jeremy is entering or exiting the building, the pro-lifers, ironically take no prisoners and assume that anyone at the hotel is associated with Emily's List and start yelling at and demeaning my friend.

Not that I need to worry about him - he's much quicker on his feet than I am (which is saying something) so he replies back for all to hear: "I wish your mothers were pro-choice!".

...and that is one of the reasons I love him.

---------

Ok, that might be enough trivial stuff to get through this post. Now I have to start thinking about one for Wednesday.




Song by: Metric

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

יִשְׂרָאֵל

I won't lie - I'm very interested to see how this Netanyahu speaking to Congress thing plays out.

I don't really care what he has to say, as if you follow any of his politics, you know what his agenda might be, especially in regards to Iran and since Israel Primer Minister elections are to be held in the next fortnight.

Regardless for my thoughts on the current state of Israeli politics, I'm just fascinated and flabbergasted at Bohner's invite and continued pursuance of this matter.

Yes, the majority of Americans don't support his action in this matter - but such is true his approval rating with his constituents and the House (I'm still laughing at his need to reach out to Democrats for a temporary payment for the TSA, because he can't pass it with his own party).

Of course, the major disliking of Boehner, his actions and inactions have never swayed him before. Mostly because he's a brainless douchebag.

I am a little surprised at Netanyahu - or any leader - who would willingly circumnavigate the conventional process of another countries procedures this way. You'd almost have to believe he wouldn't stand for it should it happen in his homeland.

But as I said, he has an agenda. But Boehner has a bigger one. He's been horribly unsuccessful at embarrassing or truly undermining the President, but by-gum he's a trooper, and he certainly keeps trying. He's like the Coyote and yet, Obama still seems to be the Roadrunner.

Unfortunately, Boehner is using Capitol Hill as his own Acme Supply Co.

Since that law suit he has against Obama has gone nowhere fast (other than billable hours to whichever law firm he hired), he has to try to get to Obama another way. Yet somehow when Obama allegedly goes against protocol, it's a law suit. When Boehner does it......well, I don't know what he's calling it....except justified....at least in his eyes.

The manly thing for Bibi to do would be to reject Boehner - even at this late hour. It's not like he doesn't have a soapbox to stand on to make his point. Television cameras follow him around all the time, he can make his case and members of Congress can choose to watch his pontificating if they so choose.

This partisanship has gotten way out of hand. Boehner certainly can't complain about Obama making his own rules (which he isn't), if he's going to do exactly what he protests against. Just StFU.



Netanyahu, though, as a soldier in the Israeli Defense Force, was a looker. Actually, in he kind of still is. Yes, I know that's off the subject, but my blog: my rules.




Song by: Siouxsie and the Banshees

Monday, March 02, 2015

My Music Monday

I'm leaving it to the hands of fate for today's My Music Monday.

The #10 song through shuffle works for me though - the Stone Temple Pilots "Big Bang Baby".

STP have had a fucked up existence with lead singer, Scott Weiland (who hails from my hometown of Chagrin Falls) and his ever present heroin addiction.

He was in the band, out of the band, in and out and then finally completely out. Or, you know, until they figure out they can probably do better on the reunion circuit and toss out their replacement vocalist.

STP, while having a following, kind of came into greater notoriety with their MVT Unplugged performance with Weiland sitting in a rocking chair singing songs like "Plush", "Vasoline" and "the Big Empty".

...and those songs were all well and good, but for me, it was always about "Big Bang Baby". It's really about the guitar and vocals on this song......though the drums help too.

...and the heroin.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Colder Than the Coldest Winter was Cold

A 140 year old record was shattered - and I'm not just talking about Betty White's television career.

No, February 2015 was the coldest month on record since 1875, which coincidentally was when Ms. White first appeared on Password.

Back in 1875, the average February temp was 15.2F. In 2015 it was 14.3.

I'm finding this hard to believe, as I am having a hard time remembering any days above 14.3F to make an average of that high.

It seems we have been hovering at the 0F mark or lower for 2-3 weeks solid. It's bad enough that my ever-frugal sister (and her husband) jumped on a plane two days ago, to go south for heat. No 2-3 week booking out for a better fare, just two days before. Good for them.

I suppose, technically it did get up to 18 yesterday, but it certainly didn't feel any warmer than single degrees.

February 2015 is the second coldest month on record - ever. January 1977 made it to 11F.

Oddly enough, until this week, I was doing pretty well with the weather. You know I'm a pussy when it comes to the cold. I don't mind the snow, but the frigidity of Winter bums me out. But oddly this year hasn't felt bad - at least for me. It's been somewhat tolerable - perhaps because last year's Winter started in October and went though April. At least this year we didn't start until after Christmas.

Yet, at my breaking point am I.

As we enter March, depending on the report, or time of day, we are to receive 1-3" of snow, or 3-6" or 6-10".

Still our snow fall is nothing like last year - or Boston this year. Last year was our fourth snowiest Winter on record. The sad thing is: I've lived here for 3 of those 4.

So perhaps, we are entering March like a lion. At least in theory. In reality, we could end the month in a much worse weather situation, so sadly this could be a lamb.

Time will tell. Like in 30 more days.




Song by: the Dandy Warhols

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Animal

Nothing extensive this week. One of each - and then a together shot. Still, it's pretty cute. But I'm biased.


HRH Sophie - as pretty as ever. 

Petey - giving up a graceful look to stare me down while I eat lunch


One canine encroaching on Sophie's morning milk. 





Song by:  R.E.M.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there! 



The Decemberists have a new "album". They took a break a bit ago, as multi-instrumentalist Jenny Conlee battled some health issues. But they're back with What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (which is really hard to get on the CD case binding, I suppose).

Like with any band or disk - there is good and bad. And with any band that has an ok output of music, you start to see their talent or limits (or both). The problem with the Decemberists seem to be, no matter how much they attempt to stretch, they don't quite seem to sound that much different from their other works. That's not a bad thing for folks who like continuity, but

"The Singer Addresses His Audience".  The music and pace is great. They lyrics? meh.  Like I need songs with product placement (really? Axe shampoo???) or talking about someone copying their drummer's hair style. Yes, I get it is a piece on criticism but save it for your Rolling Stone interview.

I wasn't sure what to think about the intro to "Calvary Captain", but then it took off and it seemed to work, with a '60s vibe, though I attribute that to the horns. The background vocals that repeat the main vocal are not stellar - almost cheesy in fact. If those were taken out, the song is actually better than good.

More '60s tendencies with "Philomena", but for me the tempo or cadence was just off. 'Skip' on my player seems to be used on this song far too often. I'm also ok on skipping "Better Not Wake the Baby".

"Till the Water's All Gone" is a moody piece that I find getting lost in and letting it play repeatedly. Possibly the best piece on the disk.

Liking "Carolina Low" too. It's almost a John Paul White song, but it works. It's more Americana than it should be, but I really like it. And "Easy Come, Easy Go"is good, but it's not too far of a stretch to hear someone like Raul Malo tackle this song...and do a better job of it.

I like "Make You Better", but it seems to be trying a little to hard to be radio friendly - not that there is anything wrong with that, if they tried that more consistently, it would be a good thing, But the rest of their material, they seem to go against that grain on purpose, which makes songs like "Make You Better" stand out like a sore thumb.

The rest of the songs are fine, but nothing that stand-out.

I get that many did not like the King is Dead, but I really dug that whole disk. And I get that some did not appreciate Gillian Welch being so prominent on those songs, but I thought she was the perfect person to be there - and that pairing made the group and the songs better.

What a Terrible World... is fine, but it's not going down in the annals of recorded history as being one of the great disks. The group has done better. I get that it is Colin Meloy is the leader, singer, and songwriter of the ensemble, but it might not hurt to get other influences in there - to mix it up, because things are sounding too much the same.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Baker Baker

It was pay-up time for that Oscar contest: Cookies for Mike.

I thought to myself - 'how hard can this be?', but as I rotated the pans of cookies halfway through their bake time, I realized (again) that I am not a baker.

I've said here time and again that I am not, but clearly I don't listen - even to myself.

There was a split second, earlier in the day, when I thought of buying cookies and trying to pass them off as my own. Or making the pre-made frozen kind.

But no, I did the righteous thing - and he'd have figured it out anyways. I couldn't live with him lording that over me.

Knowing Mike is a Martha Stewart disciple fan, naturally I went to her site to find the ultimate thin, crispy chocolate chip cookie. And poof (just like Mike) - there it was.

Flour - 2.25 cups
Baking Soda - 1/2 t
Salt - 1 t
Granulated Sugar - 1.25 cups
Brown Sugar (light) - 3/4 cup (packed)
Eggs - 2
Vanilla - 2 t
Water - 1/4 cup
Butter - 2.5 sticks
Semisweet (just like Mike) chocolate chips - 12oz


Again, it all seemed easy enough.

"Seemed" being the operative word here.

In separate bowl, mix flour and baking soda together. 
(Ok, I didn't fuck that up)

In mixer, add butter and both sugars. Blend on medium speed until light and fluffy. 
(ditto on the not fucking up thing)

Reduce speed to low. Add water, vanilla, eggs, salt and then the dry ingredients. Mix well. Scrape bowl to make sure all is incorporated. 

(I didn't fuck this part up either - thank you!)


Mix in the chocolate chips. 

(easy, peasy)


This is what may have gotten me into trouble. 


What the fuck is a heaping tablespoon sized ball? This is not helping me. Baking is a science, not a guess of weights and measures. 

I probably crammed too many balls (hehehe) on the trays, and probably not quite 2" apart. And I didn't have parchment. Martha RUNS the parchment paper industry. She uses it for fucking everything. Even when making a bologna sandwich. 

I still don't think the lack of parchment fucked me up. 



Once, long ago, Mike commented on a post I wrote on cooking, and after viewing a picture of our stove that he had oven envy. Yes, ours looks nice and it is VERY industrial, but it's very old and uneven in cooking, let alone baking. And there is no broiler. THAT is how old it is. Temps can vary by 40 degrees depending on the thermometer you use - and we use two (digital and non). 

So that coupled with the 'heaping tablespoons' could have resulted in 'spread'. The cookies spread - big time....morphing almost into two humungo cookies. 

And while Mike might have been ok to legitimately say, "hey, I only ate two cookies", the result was just a mess. 


For the record, they taste great. 

For the record, they look like a disaster. 


Mike and I chatted before the cookies ever left my house. I conceded that if this were a baking competition, he'd have won - and at this point, I hadn't even gotten his cookies. I just know they had to be better. 

The funny (?) thing was, is that he said that I was to be the recipient of his second batch of cookies, because his first batch.......wait for it........spread. 

So at this point, I'm blaming Martha herself. 

Mike did not use parchment either, but silpat, so that might have helped his end game. 

Maybe it is just best no one else participated in these reindeer games - or you might have won and been eating those cookies I just made. 




Song by: Tori Amos

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Some Girls are Bigger Than Others

...and this girl just happens to be a phone.

I finally upgraded to the iPhone 6. I'm still coming to terms with my selection and figuring out all I need to figure out.

....story of my life.

710's iPhone 5 wouldn't really charge easily anymore, so he thought it time to upgrade. Since his work was willing to pay for his phone and monthly plan, we opted to save a little money by doing that - and he gets to keep his number, so that's good. But their plan is on a different carrier - so that was logistically challenging.

Since we were bundled in a family plan, it made sense to look at new plans for just myself and with that, the realization of a new phone.

Sure, I've played with the phones at the Apple store and they seemed nice, but unlike other other iterations, I didn't feel the need to jump to the new level immediately. Of course, I had moments of 'me want', but I resisted as I could not really justify it just to get Apple Pay and slo-mo videoing.

Here it is, two days later - my old phone backed-up, my new phone synced and ready to go.

Everything seems faster, brighter, clearer and more slippery.

But the size. Yes, guys are always about size. Bigger is better.   ....but is it?

In the store, you know for a minute or two at a time, it seemed ok and it slid into a shirt pocket easily enough, as that's how I carry my phone often.

Except the models didn't have a case. I don't either.........yet, as the Apple ones currently are f'ugly. And pricey. So I don't know avec case that the new phone will slip easily into my normal carrying mode.

The 6 Plus seemed to be out from the get-go, though I was intrigued by it. I just can't carry anything that big.

But the problem I'm currently having is grip. Partially due to the size. Partially due to how smooth and curved the phone is. Texting is no longer easy. Hell, holding the phone is no longer easy. My typos have gone up exponentially and to the point that autocorrect is going 'huh'?????

Maybe part of the problem will resolve with getting a case. I won't worry about movement and dropping the device. And the other part will resolve when I get used to the size and how to text with the new placement of everything.

Oh, I guess I still have to set-up bluetooth for the device in my car. And my Apple Pay - which I have not done, but now that our grocery store accepts Apple Pay, it seems like a no-brainer not to.

I have to figure out storage too. I backed up my old phone and actually cleared out lots of crap I didn't use and decided to start up with no pictures on my phone. But iTunes is reading the new phone as having 13G of photos - or almost 900 pics. I've never had that many images on my phone ever, so I don't know what is going on with that. Ditto with 8G of documents.

I do like the print-recognition to get into the phone without my security code. Of course, I'll have to get used to it because 91% of the time, I'm still using the code. You know - old dogs; new tricks.

And just for David: true to my Apple nature, I stayed with white. White front, silver back. 710 has the black / matte, so why confuse things. And I like the continuity.



Song by: the Smiths

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tie Our Love (in a Double Knot)

Well, first off - I didn't see anyone else participate (again!) in the 4th Annual Academy Awards Guessing Game®.

What's with the holding back folks? Are Mike and I too entertaining for you? Too scary for you? Are you just that lazy?

I'm throwing out blog entry ideas for you, and no one is taking the bait.

Mike did get me his selections a few days prior to the telecast. We did not differ on much at all.

On only eight of the 26 categories did we choose different selections. That left us very very little wiggle room for a win - but that seems to be par for the course.

And most of our joint selections actually were mostly on the money, until the very end.

Save Patricia Arquette, Boyhood got completely shut out. I have to say, that surprised me. Maybe it was released too early in the year and used up all of its buzz before award time. Maybe people aren't ready for a movie that is a journey - and one as uncomfortable as having to relive their adolescence.

While I really liked Birdman - and going by Facebook comments, I might be one of the few - I didn't really expect it to be best picture. Neither did Mike, though he did nail it for best director.

We both also lost out on Michael Keaton as best actor. Mike "claims" to almost have voted for the Stephen Hawking impersonator, but who knows. I did put it (in print - thank you!) as my caveat to a Michael Keaton upset.

Mike seemed to drop all resentment towards me during the show, as we exchanged messages back and forth. Honestly, I think he was just making sure I had the tally up to date and correct, but if it helps us have a civilized two-way conversation, perhaps there is hope for rebuilding our friendship yet.

Here he is (in the title image) getting love from at least someone. Well a puppy. But don't be fooled, I'm 89% sure there is peanut butter on his chin is his attempt to be a nominee for best 'visual effects'.


While I like NPH, I found the show to be a bore - and long. Long. Long. Long. And what was with all the mid-80's music interludes as presenters and winners came and went? "Against All Odds"? "Take My Breath Away"?  "the Theme from S.W.A.T."?   nahhh.  just kidding on that last one. That was from the '70s.

And honestly, Lady Gaga? Facebook is ablaze of 'how great' she was. (s)He was fine (I still think 'she' is a dude), but I had to laugh that the big surprise of the night was that someone could sing. (which is more than you could say for Maroon 5's horrible horrible horrible performance.)

Oh and Streep drew the short-straw having to sit next to J Lo. And folks were upset that Joan Rivers wasn't in the 'in memorium' set. She played a robot in Spaceballs. She commented on actor's fashion, I'm not sure that makes her worthy. Harold Ramis wasn't there either and he did a lot more in the movies than Rivers.

Anyway, as for ticking off the categories, I eked ahead for about the first hour. Then we tied. Then Mike eked ahead. Then tied. Then me.  .....and then......yes Mike caught up and.......three out of the four years:



IT WAS A TIE. 

The Results (for auditing purposes)

Picture - both lost
Director - Mike wins
Actor - both lost
Actress - both won
Supporting Actor - both won
Supporting Actress - both won
Adapted Screenplay - both won
Original Screenplay - both lost
Cinematography - both won
Costume Design - both won
Animated Feature - both won
Documentary Short - both won
Documentary Feature - both won
Editing - both lost
Foreign Language - both won
Make-Up / Hair - Blobby wins
Score - Blobby wins
Song - both won
Production Design - both won
Animated Short - both lost
Live Action Short - both lost
Sound Editing - Mike wins
Sound Mixing - Mike wins
Visual Effects - Blobby wins

See? We have very few conjoined losses. It might frighten both of us to think we think this much alike. It should really frighten our respective partners (who have actually met each other!).

But, see the blog tags? I put 'friends'.

Because for all the razzing I give Mike (and he me?), it is all out of love and friendship. And somewhere - way deep down -  I think he knows that. Oh, he'd never admit it to you, and definitely not to me, but I know it's there.

Last year I asked for best out of five, so maybe I can squeeze one more of these things out in 2016. But I'm not counting my chickens - hatched or not. 

Both Mike and I are doing the grown-up thing. 

I know, right? 

Since neither of us won, we are exchanging a batch of cookies to the other. Chocolate chip. Crispy, not burned. No nuts.  

...and hopefully, no Ex-Lax. 

And that's how I'll know he likes me. He really really likes me. 



Song by: Dolly Parton

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Music Monday

It's 20:56 on Sunday and I'm just getting around to picking a song for today.

While it's not an Oscar moment, per se, it is Neil Patrick Harris. And it is coming from Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog.

Yes, the song clip is a little out of context if you have not seen the entire 40 minute show (you can on YouTube - it it totally worth it).

And yes, in theory, Felicia Day's voice isn't the strongest - especially compared next to NPH, but it really kind of works.

There are only about 21 minutes of music in Dr. Horrible, and most of it is good. The individual melodies work here, but it really kind of shines with their harmony.

Yeah, I know it's not much of a pick, but I've got to concentrate on tabulating the results for my very hopeful win.

Results are tomorrow.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mama Said Knock You Out

In my constant efforts to move levels from being super butch to über butch, I signed David and myself up for something that was not yoga.

It was billed as a boxing class, and while it certainly had aspects of pugilism, the beginning and end themes were definitely boot camp stuff.

The first 15 minutes was grueling. I knew it would be when the woman who showed up was the one who did the Insanity last May.

That was a living hell.

This first 15 minutes of this class was no better. I'm no fan of burpees or even jumping jacks. The sprints weren't too bad - though except for David and myself, the others on our team didn't really assert themselves. It wasn't scored, but had it been, we'd have lost.

Oh - and once again, we were the only two men (besides two of the instructors). I thought maybe it would be some kind of rape retaliation class: how to fight your attacker, and that David and I would be the designated rapists. Luckily, this did not come to fruition.

I will admit to liking the boxing and I didn't think I would.

Years ago, I made some flip comment to Rebecca when she said Muhammad Ali had some kind of honor for athlete of the millennium. I said he was as much of an athlete as Secretariat - which made Rebecca laugh.

Yes, boxers train and train and train. Lots of cardio and boot camp kind of stuff. And at least horse racing doesn't give you idiopathic Parkinson's disease.

But boxing, in real life, is not the same as it seems on television. I've seen it live and it is fucking brutal. Television desensitizes the violence of the hitting, the sounds and blood. It's not a video game or just a gambling event.

Yesterday wasn't exactly real boxing. It was just basics on hitting either guys or girls who were wearing pads or protective gear. Learning jabs, crosses and upper cuts.

Besides getting to throw punches at a guy wearing pads on his hands - left, right, left - I was expected to his a woman wearing a chest and abdominal protector.

I've never punched anyone in my life - let alone a girl. Years ago, I once owned up in this very blog, to being subjected to years of ridicule from former classmates because Eileen Perry beat me up in the 4th grade. Besides her being a bully - and obviously a probable lesbian - I even knew then it wasn't right to hit a girl, so I took it like a man.

The first few hits were very very tentative. She encouraged me where to hit and that I could do it harder. Also how to hold my arm and wrist, so not to hurt anything - on me. But hitting her was some virtual eraser for Eileen Perry.  ...at least that's what I'm telling myself.

That was all fine, but hitting the guy's hand pads were a much better experience for me. He had to stop me the first time, saying we were going for speed and not power, as he saw me wind up.

I found it slightly amusing that I asked the two male instructors if they boxed and they replied they did not - even though they teach it.

Those who can't......

Doing push-ups and planks while wearing boxing gloves proved to be challenging, at best.

David and I even got to spar a little. We said, being family, we were mostly used to sparring with our wit. Or at least, our perceived wit.

It was a great workout - well, eventually it was. It should be noted that David and I not only survived the entire class, but were basically the last two standing. Yes, there were two other students from this gym who had taken their classes before (one was a total ringer!), but the other students dropped out and left early. So, I'm taking that as a win.

And we got a free two week pass to their facility. That was nice and  if we were just hitting the bag, but it seems like a lot of burpees, push-ups, jumping jacks and sprints to get to that point. Even if we use a two week pass, I don't see getting there more than twice.   .....which may just kill me.



Song by: L.L Cool J

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Show a Little Mercy

Another cold week. Some more pictures - all indoors. Very very few walks for Petey. Way too cold for his paws.


Miss P. Winner of the 2015 Westminster Doggie Show. 
So well behaved. Such vibrant colours. We had those once upon a time. 


On the sub-zero nights, Petey gets a blanket to snuggle in - just in case. 

Petey got to see his brother, Boomer last Sunday. 
But begging for food was more important than playing. Boomer was ready to play. 

I went out for one item at the grocery. Gone for 8 minutes. 
No remorse whatsoever. Not only that, he actually fought me for the trash as I cleaned-up. 

Miss P is well behaved. Mr. P is not. 

I hate to say it, I held a grudge for a few hours. I should have taken Tim Finn's title to heart. 


video

And gotta have something of Sophie. Or at least parts of her. 





Song by: Tim Finn

Friday, February 20, 2015

Song for a Winter's Night

I sit here drafting this and it -1F.  This seems to be the norm lately.

We've been riding a cold spell as of late. As annoying as it is, it does not compare to last Winter - so it's hard to complain.

Today was supposed to be close to a record low, but now that forecast might be revised to be closer to just a plain old 0F.

710's commute doubled (each way) due to bad roads, white-outs and accidents (not his).

The thoughts of warming up are always in the back of my mind, and sometimes food is just the way to do it.

So I went with what I consider winter-time food - the grilled cheese you heard about a week or two ago and chicken tortilla soup.

Filling and cheesy.

Everything was ready when 710 walked in the door.

It's not much of a post, but it wasn't much of a day.

Allegedly we'll get into double digits over the weekend. I'll wait and see.





Song by: Sarah McLachlan

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Guess What

You know, I had a really nice post drafted for our Annual Academy Awards Guessing Game®, but then Mike has to go ruin it all, by out of the blue, calling me a "douche".

Just when his nursery school teacher started to say he  "played well with others", he goes and shows his true colours......and not the Cyndi Lauper kind.

Mike tried to pass it off as trying out his "French', but that's just his passive-aggressive nature.

So the gloves are off. Mine are more the boxing kind, his are more the lacy fingerless ones (which is why he always dominates the costume design categories!).

I suppose if this were Little House on the Prairie days, Mike might be dipping my pigtails in the ink wells or pushing me down on the playground to faux-prove how much he "didn't" like me.

But since he was being a bigger ass than Kim Kardashian's big ass, I've turned his picture into Kim Kardashian's bigger ass.

------------

Our petty squabble aside, you're all still invited (and encouraged) to play along in the 4th Annual Academy Awards Guessing Game®.

If you're a blogger, you can post your selections on your own site - or just in the comments of this post. Whichever is easier. You can even copy and paste the ballot below or just type in your selection and not the entire nominee list.

Seeing all the movies is not required. I'm guessing the folks who actually vote in the Academy have not seen most the stuff for which they are making their selections.

Let's face it - voting is either a guilt trip (how else do you explain a Halle Berry win?), a high school homecoming queen popularity contest (how else do you explain an Anne Hathaway win?) or the award is basically just out and out purchased (how else do you explain a Gwyneth Paltrow win?)

I haven't seen many of the performances. And from the short collections, just clips on YouTube. A theater here is showing both animated and live action shorts, but at the most inconvenient times - and not even together. So one gets to pay full admission for 5 animated clips that last no longer than like 7 minutes. What a deal!

Remember  - it is who you think will win, not who you think should win (or necessarily even who you like).

So yeah - it's a guessing game. Come guess with us. You win nothing*, but it gives you bragging rights - and if you're a blogger, it provides you at least with one post, if not more.

Selections must be posted by Sunday at 12:00 EST.


Best Picture
“American Sniper”
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” 
“Boyhood” 

The Grand Budapest Hotel” 
“The Imitation Game” 
“Selma” 
“The Theory of Everything” 
“Whiplash” 


I saw five of the eight. Not horrible. Loved them all in their own ways. But I still think that Boyhood was clever and something totally new in filmmaking. It wasn't suspenseful, it wasn't exciting. It was just a journey from childhood to adulthood, which kind of made it a brave thing even to make. 

Actor
Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”

I was torn on this. I think Cumberbatch might have done a better job, but I think Keaton will be the sentimental winner. And I'm not voting for whom I liked the best, just who will win. This is a contest, don't ya know. If it were by performance that I liked the best, it'd have been Cumberbatch. Redmayne has been winning a lot of stuff w his role, so I might be wayyyyy off here. 
Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall in “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood”
Edward Norton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”

J.K. Simmons was phenomenal. He was a total asshole, but so good at it. I actually like Norton's performance too, but not to be surpassed by Simmons. Hawke might have had the least impressive role in Boyhood - not that he was bad in it. I don't get why Simmons is in this category though. By my estimation, I think he should have been the Lead Actor slot - and could still have won that. 
Actress
Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”

Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”


No one saw Cotillard's movie - though I love her. Reese already has a statue. Moore does not - though few have seen her movie either (as it wasn't released to many markets until mid-February). But Moore is pretty excellent in just about everything she does, so I say, let's give it to her. 
Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”

Laura Dern in “Wild”
Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”


No on Streep. She was ok, but I'm not sure even nominee good enough. Stone was good, but it was a limited role. I really liked Arquette's role, until I saw Knightley's performance. I liked her's better, but I think Arquette will win. She's riding the Medium Boyhood wave. 
Animated Feature
“Big Hero 6” Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli

“The Boxtrolls” Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
“Song of the Sea” Tomm Moore and Paul Young
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura


I didn't see any of these. But who doesn't like a big (sometimes leaking) whacky waving inflatable tube guy as your main character?  Plus the big blow up character pets a Calico cat. The Japenese folks will probably take it. 
Original Screenplay
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
“Boyhood” Written by Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher” Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness

“Nightcrawler” Written by Dan Gilroy

You'd think with picture and director the award would go to Linklater or the Birdman guy. But I think for originality it will more than likely go to Wes Anderson & co.  (though Dan Futterman is really cute.)
Cinematography
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Emmanuel Lubezki

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Robert Yeoman
“Ida” Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
“Mr. Turner” Dick Pope
“Unbroken” Roger Deakins


Because of the super long, unbroken, unedited shots. They were amazing. 
Costume Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Milena Canonero

Inherent Vice” Mark Bridges
“Into the Woods” Colleen Atwood
“Maleficent” Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive
“Mr. Turner” Jacqueline Durran


Into the Woods was ok, but nothing they didn't pick out of a pile from Les Miserable and / or any pirate movie. I didn't see any of the others, though I thought Angelina Jolie looked great in Maleficent. 
Documentary Feature
“CitizenFour” Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky

“Finding Vivian Maier” John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
“Last Days in Vietnam” Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
“The Salt of the Earth” Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier
“Virunga” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara
Documentary Short Subject
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry

“Joanna” Aneta Kopacz
“Our Curse” Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
“The Reaper (La Parka)” Gabriel Serra Arguello
“White Earth” J. Christian Jensen


100% throwing a dart. 
Film Editing
“American Sniper” Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach

“Boyhood” Sandra Adair
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Barney Pilling
“The Imitation Game” William Goldenberg
“Whiplash” Tom Cross


I hate selecting it. I didn't see it. I'd never see it. But it's war. It's gun fire. It's back and forth between war and home life. I'd rather give it for Grand Budapest Hotel, but I'm trying to win here. 
Foreign Language Film
“Ida” Poland

“Leviathan” Russia
“Tangerines” Estonia
“Timbuktu” Mauritania
“Wild Tales” Argentina


100% throwing a dart. 
Makeup and Hairstyling
“Foxcatcher” Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier

“Guardians of the Galaxy” Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

Come on. You saw Tilda Swinton, didn't you?
Original Score
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat

“The Imitation Game” Alexandre Desplat
“Interstellar” Hans Zimmer
“Mr. Turner” Gary Yershon
“The Theory of Everything” Jóhann Jóhannsson


Hans Zimmer's score was just bad - and made worse by sound mixing. I don't even remember music in the Imitation Game, though I'm sure it was there. I'm giving it to some jaunty music during chase scenes in tGBH. 
Original Song
“Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”
Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
“Glory” from “Selma”
Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn

“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”
Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”
Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois


Because Selma got overlooked for almost everything else, they'll get thrown this bone. I'd rather see Glenn Campbell win just on principle. 
Production Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

“The Imitation Game” Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
“Interstellar” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
“Into the Woods” Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“Mr. Turner” Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts


I think it comes down to my pick and Into the Woods. But the hotel, the prison, the bakery, the monestary, the ski scenes.....I think Grand Budapest has it wrapped up. 
Animated Short Film
“The Bigger Picture” Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
“The Dam Keeper” Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

“Feast” Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
“Me and My Moulton” Torill Kove
“A Single Life” Joris Oprins


The clips I've seen of all of these make them all look great. But some of the animation with the Dam Keeper is spectacular. Some of the images look like paintings.  Feast (Pixar!) will most likely win, but I'm going with my gut - because it's about a bullied pig. ....and because of the images. 
Live Action Short Film
“Aya” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
“Boogaloo and Graham” Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney

“Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)” Hu Wei and Julien Féret
“Parvaneh” Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
“The Phone Call” Mat Kirkby and James Lucas


Because kids with grown-up Irish accents and two chicks should handily win. 
Sound Editing
“American Sniper” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
“Interstellar” Richard King
“Unbroken” Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro


Hans Zimmer's score for Intersetellar sucked balls and the sound was so overbearing and muddied at times (on purpose), they'll fail here. I'm giving it to Birdman bc it is the only other movie I've seen in this category. 
Sound Mixing
“American Sniper” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga

“Interstellar” Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
“Unbroken” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
“Whiplash” Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley


The street noise, the music mixed with the dialogue was great. Both 710 and I commented on it after the fact. 
Visual Effects
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
“Interstellar” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

It'd be great if Captain America won since it was filmed here in Cleveland, but it won't. Interstallar will, though since they took my money  - robbed me, in fact - I'm not sure I like selecting them. And it would be great if Ian Hunter won, but I doubt it is the same Ian Hunter of which I'm thinking. 

Good luck to all. I do hope some of you participate. I'm posting today to give you a good three posting days to get yours up on the boards. 

Unlike last year, I will wait a day AFTER the show to post results. If you remember, last year I posted too hastily, and was taken to task for "cheating" when it was just an honest mistake. To hear Mr. Mike tell it, he'd have you believing I was Lance fucking Armstrong. So this year, I will contract with PrieWaterhouseCoopers to tabulate the results four or five times before declaring a winner - should there be one. 


* Mike has offered (well, to me) that a batch of cookies go to the winner. On the surface it is a nice gesture, but I now fear victory, as he even determined the type of cookie - chocolate chip. I see mine being laced with Ex-Lax,  should I take top prize. 


Song by: Buddy Guy

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Shopping with Blobby

Yet another installment in the drudgery that is everyday shopping. The camera-phone makes it a bit more fun - though I get looks whenever I take pics of products. Like I care what people think!



It was really hard to get a good shot of this, but as we all know, anymore buying wine isn't about the taste. It's probably less to do with the price than we care to admit too. 

For wine makers, it's all about the label and name. Or the marketing. 

And where Poizin might be a great marketing tool and logo for, oh I don't know, hot sauce...tipping a glass back after decanting a bottle doesn't quite seem to hit the mark with me. 

One might drink it if it were called Jolly Roger, but it isn't. The name rings of an elixir that will kill you - which it most certainly will if your liver is already shot, or if you drink too much of it. 

I will say, if you hit the above hyperlink, the packaging (which they did not have at the store) of a bottle coming in a casket was fairly ingenious. 

And $25 per bottle is kind of pricey these days. There are really really good wines out there that are half the price. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Brother

Yesterday, I went and had coffee with one of my old fraternity brothers / roommates.

Well, he had tea. I had the shittiest hot chocolate ever. Swiss Miss would have been better. (well, I'm guessing.)

I'm not 100% sure what possessed me, but he was in town taking his son to a college visit and he was free for hours on a cold cold day.

Well...he and his wife.

I guess curiosity got the better of me.

The year I moved into the fraternity house, I lived with Pat for most of the first year. Yesterday, he says he saw the house not long ago and our room was quite small, but I don't remember it that way. It wasn't spacious by any means, but it was not small.

Both Pat and I were thinner. Both of us had hair.

While I wasn't out at this time in my life (well at least to anyone in my house), Pat seemed to have this confluence of gay-dom around him, even though he was (and is) straight.

His big brother in the house was a flamboyant dance major. Yes, nothing says "gay" like a dancer named Jorge.

(side note: to bring the six degrees of separation closer - blogger bud, John, actually knows Jorge from some other point in time. From the theater. Shocking.: )  )

Pat's roommate before me was named Terry. Somehow, someone found Terry's stash of Blueboy magazines and he kind of fled from the house. That left a room open for me - another gay man in Pat's immediate existence.

I spent more than a few nights on the sofa in the living area of the house, as Pat would leave a tie on the doorknob. That frustrated me, but what kind of tramp would even want to sleep over in a fraternity house?

I mean - c'mon - show some self respect. Whore!

But Pat brought his wife yesterday - whom I had never met. And while we didn't talk a lot about ourselves today, it was more reminiscing which stands to reason. It was more about re-establishing our baseline.

I mean, he asked about and was genuinely interested in  710, which was nice. He asked if this girl who really liked me in college ever got over her crush. Me, being me, gestured to myself and said, "c'mon - does anyone really ever get over this???"

It was good for a laugh.

But it looks like his son will be coming to college less than a mile away from where we live, so the potential to see Pat is greater than it has been for the last three decades.

Before we parted, and while his wife was using the powder room, I made mention to Pat of Jorge, Terry and myself. He was light-hearted about it all and said, "well you know my dad was gay (I did not know that), so that pretty much makes me half-gay."

He went on to say how is dad claimed (humourously I'm sure) that he invented gay.

It was a nice way to end the visit.




Song by: the Kinks