Friday, February 28, 2014

Totally Baked

It's not revolutionary. It's just chicken.

I love how Ina Garten will say at least once per season that she has to mix up Jeffrey's every Friday night roast chicken with something new.

I'm not sure in seven years she has actually made her husband roast chicken. It's always something new.

So I had two boneless, skinless chicken breasts and trying to figure out anything different to do with them - that didn't require me going to the store and buying a panoply of new spices or ingredients. It's cold here - I don't want to go out if I don't have to. I had to make due with what what is Blobby Hubbard's cupboard.

Like I said - this is nothing radical, but a little change-up.

The prep is actually quite easy and you can complete your clean-up of most everything before the chicken finishes baking.

2 chicken breasts
1/4 cup of bread crumbs (mine were plain)
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 t of garlic powder / salt
1/4 t of onion powder
black pepper - a few grinds (I didn't measure - sue me!)
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 t of butter

Pre-heat oven to 425.

In one bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheese, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper.

I did take a picture of this, but somehow it did not come out.  My career as a food photog is in jeopardy.

In a small pan, heat the olive oil and crushed garlic. Give it a few minutes for the garlic to infuse into the oil.  Turn off heat.

Pat dry chicken breasts - I did not season them because of the Parm cheese being saltier and the garlic oil and garlic / onion salt mixture.

Dip chicken breasts into the garlic oil. (My oil was still piping hot and started to cook the chicken immediately - not a bad thing, but not needed.)

Then transfer breasts into the bread crumb / cheese mixture and coat.  (forgot to take a picture.)

Place chicken into shallow pan (again, no pic). Then, I cut up a pat of butter and placed it around both of the chicken breasts and place pan into 425 degree oven. Cook for 30-35 minutes.

The chicken was super moist and flavourful, but nothing overpowering.  It was easy to prepare (except for a dog who kept getting in the way) and easy clean-up.  I'd definitely do again.

Song by:  Mark Cohen

Thursday, February 27, 2014

To Let You Win

I suppose I should post this now to give anyone who wants to participate the time to play.

It's the 3rd Annual Oscar Guessing Game®.

It was Mike who challenged me three years ago into competing in an on-line Academy Award contest, with both of us inexplicably tying for two years in a row!!! (recaps here and here.) I'd say "unheard of", but there are certain odds, I suppose that made it so.

I was also hoping with this years Oscars I could tempt Mike back into blogging for at least two entries - a pre and post Oscar entry. But since Anne Hathaway is not nominated, his dander just isn't up enough to stomp his feet and rant / rave.

(you can read his witty entries at his site - as there aren't a ton of them - entries that is, let alone witty ones.)

As it is, it looks just due to a timing issue and Mike will not be participating this year.   (sad face.) Perhaps he'll prove me wrong.

So, just like from ages 13-50, I might just be playing with myself.  {sigh}

We (710 and I - not Mike and myself)  saw about half the 'best pic' selections - though we didn't make our goal of 12 movies last year. Hell, Her was out of the theaters, lickedy-split (sp?)

As for the nominees are a few sure winners out there, but most of mine are like throwing a dart at board while blindfolded.   ....and without the prospect of beating the pants off of Mike (hehehehe), where's the fun?

That's where you come in.  Engage me. Entertain me.  You've all been invited other years, and I know Mike looks scary, but he's really harmless. You can play along.

My choices are below in red. No doubt I'll leave some comments below as to my rationale.

Best picture
"12 Years a Slave" 
"American Hustle" 
"Captain Phillips"
"Dallas Buyers Club"
"The Wolf of Wall Street" 

Because Hollywood has 'black guilt' and will vote that way. Not enough so that it nominated the Butler for anything, but...     I liked Gravity, but when it came down to it, the woman was tethered to the man for life support, and the man even came back from the dead to help save her.  

Hollywood's message?? : Women are nothing without men.   True that!!!!  :)

Alfonso Cuarón, "Gravity"
Steve McQueen, "12 Years a Slave"
Alexander Payne, "Nebraska"
David O. Russell, "American Hustle"
Martin Scorsese, "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Despite my message above: Cuarón did amazing things with direction, most detail, and CGI stuff. I still love his take on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  It's rare for a director to win without taking best film, but it happened last year, so......

Lead actor
Christian Bale, "American Hustle"
Bruce Dern, "Nebraska"
Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave"
Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club"
Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Wolf of Wall Street"

The man gives me the creeps but he's won everything else, so.....

Lead actress
Amy Adams, "American Hustle"
Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"
Judi Dench, "Philomena"
Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County"
Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"

All wrapped up, though I loved Dench's performance. I always do. 

Supporting actor
Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Because Jordan Catalano deserves something other than that shitty 30 Seconds from Mars group. 

Supporting actress
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”

Because Jennifer Lawrence won last year. 

Animated feature film
“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest & Celestine”
“The Wind Rises”

Didn't see a one of them. Haven't even heard of three of them. But since CB goes on and on about some shitty songs on Frozen, and it is Disney.........

“The Grandmaster,” Philippe Le Sourd
“Gravity,” Emmanuel Lubezki
“Inside Llewyn Davis,” Bruno Delbonnel
“Nebraska,” Phedon Papamichael
“Prisoners,” Roger A. Deakins

Costume design
“American Hustle,” Michael Wilkinson
“The Grandmaster,” William Chang Suk Ping
“The Great Gatsby,” Catherine Martin
“The Invisible Woman,” Michael O’Connor
“12 Years a Slave,” Patricia Norris

Because Christian Bale was hot in his own certain way.  : )   ...and space suits and t-shirts/underwear are not technically "costumes". 

Documentary feature
“The Act of Killing”
“Cutie and the Boxer”
“Dirty Wars”
“The Square” 
“20 Feet from Stardom”

100% guessing. But Hollywood loves stardom, so.....

Documentary short subject
“Facing Fear”
“Karama Has No Walls”
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”

Um.  Ummmmm.   

Film editing
“American Hustle,” Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
“Captain Phillips,” Christopher Rouse
“Dallas Buyers Club,” John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
“Gravity,” Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
“12 Years a Slave,” Joe Walker

Foreign language film 
“The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Belgium
“The Great Beauty,” Italy
“The Hunt,” Denmark
“The Missing Picture,” Cambodia
“Omar,” Palestine

I'd rather it be Omar, but it won't be. 

Makeup and hairstyling
“Dallas Buyers Club,” Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa,” Stephen Prouty
“The Lone Ranger,” Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

It's never going to a Jackass movie, or the biggest box-office bomb of 2013. 

Original score
“The Book Thief,” John Williams
“Gravity,” Steven Price
“Her,” William Butler and Owen Pallett
“Philomena,” Alexandre Desplat
“Saving Mr. Banks,” Thomas Newman

As much as I'd like Butler and Pallett to win, no one saw the movie.  It's going to Price because, other than voices it was the only sound in the movie - since you know, it's space.  But Price did a good job at making the music sound like there were sounds in space. You had to pull back to think that the music indicated (impeding) action. 

Original song
“Alone Yet Not Alone” from “Alone Yet Not Alone”
“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”
“Let It Go” from “Frozen”
“The Moon Song” from “Her”
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”

Love "Happy" and if I were voting because I'm trying to win an imaginary competition, I'd select it, but it's U2 and their seemingly do-gooder persona along with a movie about a legend who died a few months ago.  Sorry Pharrell. 

Production design
“American Hustle,” Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler
“Gravity,” Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard
“The Great Gatsby,” Production Design: Catherine Martin; Set Decoration: Beverley Dunn
“Her,” Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena
“12 Years a Slave,” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker

It was over the top - and Jay Z produced it and apparently you can't do anything without Jay Z being in-fucking-volved. 

Animated short film
“Get a Horse!”
“Mr. Hublot”
“Room on the Broom”

Um. Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm. 

Live action short film
“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)”
“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)”
“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)”
“The Voorman Problem”

Just because I want to hear a presenter, someone like Cameron Diaz,  fuck up this pronunciation .

Sound editing
“All Is Lost,” Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
“Captain Phillips,” Oliver Tarney
“Gravity,” Glenn Freemantle
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Brent Burge
“Lone Survivor,” Wylie Stateman

I don't know why - I'm just guessing. All the movie had was sound - almost no dialogue. 

Sound mixing
“Captain Phillips,” Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro
“Gravity,” Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson
“Inside Llewyn Davis,” Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
“Lone Survivor,” Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Visual effects
“Gravity,” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
“Iron Man 3,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
“The Lone Ranger,” Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
“Star Trek Into Darkness,” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

Because it's a space movie without being a sci-fi space movie. Yes, the distance between space stations is unrealistic, but it's about the visuals of the space debris hitting the International Space Station. Period. 

Adapted screenplay
“Before Midnight,” written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
“Captain Phillips,” screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena,” screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave,” screenplay by John Ridley
“The Wolf of Wall Street,” screenplay by Terence Winter

Because I saw it?  

Original screenplay
“American Hustle,” written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine,” written by Woody Allen
“Dallas Buyers Club,” written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
“Her,” written by Spike Jonze
“Nebraska,” written by Bob Nelson

That's it. That's all I got. Good luck to all - if you wish to participate. No prizes other than bragging rights. Sorry.

BTW - I totally stole the title image from Mr. Mike, that he totally doctored last year!  I was actually going to make a new one but ran out of time - and possibly interest.

Song by: a-ha

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hateful Hate

So, I was chatting with my friend Geoffrey the other day.

Yes, he's gay. His name is not Jeff (probably straight) or Jeffrey (could go either way). With "Geoffrey" you really have no choice: Gay!

Anyway, he innocently asked me when Skeletor (aka Jan Brewer) would be signing or vetoing the AZ Hate Bill*.  After my initial answer of, she had until this Friday (I think 5 business days?), my / our conversation kind of spiraled downwards. I started getting my panties in a wad.

I confessed something to him that I had been thinking but had not said out loud:

I hope Brewer signs and approves the bill.

There. I said it.

Honestly, I don't think Brewer will sign it, but honestly, I think she wants to but is in quite a pickle with all the coverage this has gotten and the businesses that are seemingly putting up a stink.

...and that is the problem.

If she vetoes it and it seemingly all goes away. Except that it doesn't.

The hate is there but it is now masked. It was always there, it was always slightly masked, but fuck, if it doesn't go through, those lawmakers who wanted it can not only say: "well, she was weak.....and now that I'm running for Governor.....this is what I'd do...."

But fuck it Arizona. Own up to your hate. Because that is what it is: hate.  You are racist and homophobic and have shown it time and time again over the last few years.   ...and yes, I'm generalizing a bit, but not when it comes to state politics.

Two (or is it now three?) state senators who voted for the bill are now asking for Brewer to veto. One even having the nerve to say he has gay friends and wouldn't want them hurt, you know, but he put "yes" in the vote column.  So we have three hypocrites trying to save their skin.

And McCain wants it vetoed.  Like anyone gives a fuck what that man wants. I was hoping the Hanoi Hilton would still have his room ready.

Don't get me started on what Mittens wants. Srsly, if even he wants it vetoed, we should rethink whether we, the gays, want the same thing.

Anderson Cooper, who is in my opinion a so-so journalist (but a fairly decent human being), really kind of stepped up to the plate with an interview with Al Melvin who co-sponsored (or wrote?) the bill in question.

Cooper doesn't let up - which I love. He succinctly gets his points across, though Melvin is either ignoring him or mentally deficient enough to understand the points being made. I kind of felt sorry for him being so ignorant of the facts - not even the hypotheticals - that he'll probably be a shoe-in for the governorship in the next election.

It's worthy 10 minute viewing.

Of course I laughed and laughed (inside, where it counts) when Melvin has the audacity to say that there is no discrimination in Arizona. None.

Melvin says he knows no one would discriminate against anyone who is divorced or an unwed mother - but does anyone have his voting record, especially on sex education in school, planned parenthood, WIC, food stamps, Medicaid, etc?

He might want to look past his white, gated community and ask some of the locals who are not members of his church or on his staff what they think of that.

But of course, if Melvin is right and there is no discrimination in the state, why draft the law at all?

The one thing Cooper does fail to call him out for, and it's not until further into the interview, is Melvin calling it protecting religious freedom.

Cooper for the most part takes the broader road giving examples of anything that isn't gay-related, when Melvin finally does trip up (?) and say (at the 7:15 mark) that Arizona and the country are under attack - and......wait for advocates of same sex marriage.

While Cooper notes that there are no laws on the books about not allowing discrimination of gays, nor any pending change in the anti-same sex laws in Arizona, why so much effort - and why now.  But he doesn't take it that step further and nail Melvin for saying it's not about religious freedom, it's about singling out a certain population that can be discriminated against.  Period.

But you know - Arizona (and possibly Georgia) will have to own up to their own hate. Their own non-Jesus-like behaviour, which they flaunt when it fucking suits them.  So put it into law - go ahead. You won't see a dime of my money. I'd even drive around the state if need be. Hopefully the businesses claiming the bill should be vetoed will act (i.e. move) if the bill is signed.

If they don't, we have another issue on our hands: regardless of party, politicians cater to big business. If businesses are weak and only feign indignation but do nothing, politicians will have an easier time passing these laws in other states.

And a sad, simple fact is that if business pressures Brewer to veto, then it becomes about money - but the hate of the state still remains. It's just that money trumps hate.....for the time being, anyways.

The reality is - if Brewer vetoes, she's only herself, to her state and to all who watch her. She is the representative of the state and we already know she's a shrew.  ...and I'm being nice.

But if you want to be hateful, then go for it. At least we know for sure what we're dealing with - but don't put it under the guise of religion since clearly you know nothing about love, tolerance and forgiveness.

Song by:  10,000 Maniacs

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

App of the Month

I can't believe February is almost over.  I'm running out of time for some placeholder posts, but whatta gonna do?

I've got the doldrums anyways. We are headed back to subzero (or near) temps for at least the rest of the week and it's snowing, yet once least as I draft this. On an up note: Sunday morning we heard a number of birds singing shortly after sunrise. That was nice.

Anyway - on to App of the Month: Letris 3.

Let it be known, unlike Angry Birds, I am still heavily invested in Words With Friends. Ask Morty, Rebecca, Birdie, Torn, Erik.  

Do not ask John. Like his blogging, John's WWF activity is like a Jamie Gertz / Robert Downey Jr. movie. (I'll let you mull over that for a moment.)   Though to be fair, Becky, Birdie and Richard are not winning any blogging awards as of late either - but at least they still play WWF.

I'm assuming Letris 3 was free, or I got it from a Starbucks giveaway card (still free for me!), because you all know I rarely pay for my apps.

But Letris 3 is a combo of Boggle and Tetris.  I loved the latter, but hated the former. So it is a mixed bag, at best.

Letters fall and you try to find words so the associated letters blow-up and disappear before the remaining letters build a wall up to the top.......and you lose.

The more you spell, the faster the letters fall.  You've seen this technology since Space Invaders - or an I Love Lucy sketch. It's nothing new, except that now it involves spelling. And since you are attempting to beat the clock, you are usually spelling three letter words - which is the minimum you can use (I believe).

It's a little fun. It's a lot least for me.  Timed competition brings out the worst in me anyways.  (Damn you Iowa Basics!!!!!)

Honestly, I last about 5 minutes playing - I think I finally made it to level 7 - and then put it away for 3-4 weeks. I have enough frustration in my life that I don't really need to raise my blood pressure like that. It's bad enough on WWF  when on the last round of letters someone gives you a Q that you can't possibly use since everything is filled in.

The graphics are fair, at best. The instructions are not as intuitive as one might assume, and of course, the rules change slightly with the different levels.

I suppose it's worth the price, but I wouldn't be handing over my Amex to the iTunes store for it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

My Music Monday

If you've been following my blog, let alone the My Music Monday segments, you've noticed it's mostly pop / rock / bluegrass selections.

It's not all I listen too - though I would say it is the majority of what shuffles through my iTunes playlists.

I do have others - some classical, some "dance", some jazz-like...well, you get it, I'm more well rounded than you think.  Honest.

I also have some movie music. Say what you want - one of 710's and my first movie dates was to see Out of Africa. I was totally taken by John Berry's score. I was a weirdo for Raiders of the Lost Ark and yes, bought the soundtrack.

The problem with John Williams is, he basically plagiarizes himself. And with 49 fucking Academy Award nominations (yes, I looked it up), how could he not copy himself?

There is little difference between Raiders and Temple of Gloom Doom and the other Indiana Jones disks. Even with the Star Wars films, "Princess Liea's Theme" isn't all that different from Raiders' "Marion's Theme.

Jaws might have been a bit different, though except for those few famous notes, does anyone really know the rest of the score?

Hell, the NBC Nightly News theme isn't far off from some of those scores.

Even with the main theme of Schindler's List (this week's selection), the first 15 seconds could have been easily lifted from Raiders, Star Wars or Harry Potter (ok, 10 years later).

So then why am I picking the main theme from Schindler's List?  Easy:  Itzhak Perlman.

I won't go as far as to say Willams' piece is 'pedestrian', as it clearly resonates with me, but in lesser hands than Perlman, I don't believe the music would have picked away at my soul - or at least where my soul should be.

When I hit 'play' that first time in 1993 - not yet having seen the movie - it was just one of those pieces that evoked an immediate emotional response.

I know there are a number of great violinists out there, but I've always been drawn to Perlman's work, even seeing him play with the Cleveland Orchestra a few times. He a master at his craft for a reason and I have to believe he put more into his Schindler's List pieces than even Williams could have imagined. least I like to think that.

Not surprisingly, Williams won an Oscar for his work.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

the Treason of Isengard

So this came in the mail on Friday.

The claim from Rebecca is that her children were fighting over it, which is why the package was so damaged. She failed to mention they were probably fighting her over the package.

...or it was found at the bottom of a barrel at a garage sale.....23 months ago. Or somewhere in the Ukraine upheaval.

Toys have come back from Lothlórien in better shape.

Poor Becca. Her primary education has failed her - as Columbus to Cleveland is indeed not "international".  But this is why we go over these things - to help educate.

Yet here is what was delivered - what I believe is to be my first Lego set.

I purchased an architectural set for 710, which has yet to be assembled, but I've never had or played with Legos.

Or in this case: Legolas.

Ok, the only fairy playing here was me - and Legolas was an I misspoke.

So on a lazy Saturday morning of nursing a cold and skipping yoga, I broke into the box of 113 108 pieces so I could start to build The Wizard Battle.

Of course, you in the know are familiar that the wizards in question are Gandalf (the grey) and Saruman. It's a fact!

Since it was my first time, I did follow instructions. I'm not intuitive to build something on my own the way my late friend Sam did years ago with his Lego Larry Flynt Stephen Hawking.

Pure genius.

Nope. I followed directions. Mostly.

First off Lego production folks:  why are there two separate packs of parts? If you're doing to do that, at least have one part be for the first half of the build and the second part for the last half.  But couldn't do that, could you?

Naturally, I had a helper. 

It had moving parts, which of course is important when Sauron needs to see what is what. 

Who needs eagles or fell-beasts when you have kitty cats?

I'm almost positive the fine Legos folks provided extra parts. I'm sure there is no way I could have breezed by an instruction point where I missed something.  No. Way. At. All.

...and here is the finished product.

If you're familiar with the book / film, you know that the battle of the wizards has each of them tossing the other around like well.....old, used wizards. You can even have Saruman fly from his throne.

Becky wondered why I wasn't playing "action" with them. Maybe I didn't build it correctly (ok - forget about those five extra pieces already!), but those things are horribly fragile. I had to move it from the ottoman to a solid surface to finish it so it wouldn't fall apart. Playing with it would just make it fall to pieces.  ...and you know I ain't rebuilding it.

Maybe next year she can get me the $400.00 $399.99 Death Star.

Song by: Howard Shore

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Eye of the Tiger

Another week with Petey - another vet visit.  The poor guy.

Last Sunday morning (02:30) he woke us up in respiratory distress - coughing once per every 2-3 seconds. Of course, the only clinic open, within reasonable distance was the one I took him to 16 months ago.

I'll give them this - they were much better this time. No pressure. No huge fees / estimates. I think I was a little more in control of the situation than I was back then and I don't think it hurt when two guys bring in a dog and talk with what I'm assuming is a lesbian veterinarian.

I didn't ask all the right questions during the consult, so I'm still learning. Ruckiry (not Jon's boss), the faxed report to our regular vet provided information and time to discuss Petey's issue.

The good news is: it's not pneumonia. His lungs are clear. And it's possible the last time or two he didn't have pneumonia either (though he has had it a few other times).  We are now working on the assumption he has Tracheitis.  The newer vet we've been seeing is more open to not just diagnosing Petey off his past history - that's been good thing.

So now Pete has his antibiotics, but for a shorter period of time. He has medicine for his cough. And now he has a vaporizer with cool mist, as the dry winter air and the heat from the radiator he likes to sleep near helps cause his condition.

His coughing isn't completely gone, but he's much better. I'm sure I was extra worried about his condition last weekend because it was 02:30 and nothing good happens after 02:00.

Anyway........enough about that. Now it's time for Petey Porn....which is what you tuned in for in the first place.

Resting the morning after the vet. He wasn't the only one who was sapped of energy. 

Drowsy. Waking up for me to take him to his follow-up appointment on Thursday. You can see his tail in motion. He's still a happy pup. 

Petey meeting Rocky at his follow-up appointment.  They got along great. 

Rocky is a beautiful sweet 2 year old Boxer rescue. 

His new owners got him two weeks ago - after being bounced around from shelter to house to shelter and back again. He is possibly the sweetest dog I've ever met (and that's saying something). He climbed right up into my lap and put his chin down. I've never actually interacted with a Boxer before. I was kind of in love.

After follow-up nap. Always the charmer. But what do I care, as long as he is comfortable.

You can hear part of his cough here, as he attempts to "make his bed" on top of the sofa. He's still his old problem-solving self.

And just because I'm using a Rocky-inspired theme today, I'm leaving yet another little video clip that Morty turned me onto years ago - and it has zero to do with Petey Porn.

It's an ad for Starbucks, but it shows that Survivor has a sense of humour and / or needed the cash from the royalties. I can live with either one of them.

Song by: Survivor (truth be told, I don't have any Survivor, but when you meet a dog named "Rocky"....)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Got Me Down

Ugh. I gotta code.

Like clockwork, I "usually" get them the third week of January.  But the 2014 clock must be running slow.

I thought I beat the odds. 710 got his cold (lasted two weeks) and I missed the January timeline, so I thought I was free and clear.

Silly, silly me.

I'm never sure what to do for these either - other than force fluids and rest.

But when medications come into play, is it sudafed, actifed, benadryl or any of the other 341 over the counter medications they sell?

I opted to ask my friendly pharmacist.

You see - people don't utilize their pharmacist as a resource for such matters. In reality, they have far more knowledge than any physician who may have taken one or two classes in pharmacology. PharmDs take five years of this shit and are on top of every medication, every interaction, every day.

If you remember, my dermatologist got a small fortune out of me for butchering my thumb. The pharmacist provided me a very low cost option that was actually effective. I'm all on board for asking them about treatments - and they're easier to access than a doctor (and free!).

So, I told her about my cough, drainage and congestion. Without hesitation she said: Alka Seltzer Plus for Colds. She thinks it is the most effective thing on the market.

Ok. I've never used it. Nor have I used NyQuil - or its daytime counterpart. I hear stories, of course, of how it knocks you out. I'm not sure it does a thing for the actual cold, except to make you unconscious.

For some, that is enough of a "cure", but I just fear I'll drown in my own snot.

Anyway, I bought it. The package has liquid capsules: orange for daytime, green for night time. Got it.

The daytime ones did kind of ok. Nothing off the charts good. But I had a few moments of using one nostril. And  let's face it, until I get that left septum fixed, one and one-quarter nostrils is as good as it will ever work.

But oy - the night time pill.

I don't remember closing my eyes let alone turning off my light. I didn't pull one pillow off the bed like I normally do, so I was propped funny all night long. I'm guessing I never moved a muscle the entire night. I normally toss and turn and sleep on multiple sides, multiple times.

I also woke up an hour later than normal.

Fuck, the house could have burned down and I would have slept through it. The dog could have been in distress and I'd have never known. Robbers could have broken in and wiped us clean - and I'd have been none the wiser.

...and to top it off.....I still awoke majorly congestion and coughing.

So much for AS+.

Maybe you need to keep taking it, and I will for the daytime, but fuck that night shit. It's too dangerous.

And I'm guessing Roofies are cheaper.

I won't say yoga is completely out of the question this weekend, but any inversion might make my head explode. Is it worth the risk?  I'm thinking not, but maybe I'll be all better by Saturday morning.

Song by: Nina Gordon

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shopping with Blobby

Decades (ugh) ago on a David Letterman Holiday Film Festival, Bette Midler did her one woman film (ok, there was an accompanist on the piano), Angst on a Shoestring, where she plays a malcontent, sitting in a bar lamenting and complaining about any number of issues.

In part of it she says:  

"The deodorant section in any drug store in the United States is bigger than the biggest meat department in all of the USSR. Tell me - do we as a nation smell that bad?!?!"

Going to our local Walgreens the other day, I flashed upon that....and smiled to myself. 

I was doing a favour for 710, going to pick him up some new anti-sweat / smell sticks (that don't contain meds for Low T). I mean, you know I'm not going to the at area of the store for myself.  

For you new(er) readers, I'm not a fan or either antiperspirant or deodorant. I sweat - well, now I do (there was a time I rarely did) - but I don't really smell.  And even if I did (which I totally don't!), I shower shortly after working out.  Problem solved!!!!!

I don't know how long I've had the same roll-on. It probably doesn't work anymore - it's just for show when 710 gives me a hard time about it.  Problem solved again!

So - I have this question for you all:  WHEN did they start putting deodorant behind lock and key? 

Or better yet - when did they start putting some deodorant behind lock and key? I ask this last question because a few - mostly on the bottom shelf - were free and clear to anyone. 

Is this now like baby formula and sudafed?  Can I cut coke or make meth out of this stuff?  And if so how (may as well go for broke if the NSA and DEA are tracking this). And what's the ROI? 

Oddly, none of the locked or unlocked ones were the top two choices I was asked to retrieve. They weren't even carried, and while I love the man, I lazier than shit, so I made an executive decision to get him something new. 

The only unscented one unlocked (or locked, for that matter) was Tom's from Maine. 

We'd been to Maine a number of times, so it seemed like the logical choice. And better yet, I didn't have to call and / or wait for a clerk to come unlock the cabinet.  

Because if there is one thing that I'm better at than being lazy, it is being intolerant for shit like that. 

I'm not sure 710 was down with my selection, but that will teach him not to send me out for stuff I clearly know nothing about. Only trouble can come out of an errand like that. 

And while it has nothing to do with shopping, since I mentioned the Letterman / Midler piece, I looked up on YouTube and sure enough they have it.  It's a shitty copy, but it's also almost 30 years old. Fuck. 

May as well throw it up here for you to view if you choose.  (I remember it being funnier - but I was almost 30 years younger too.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

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! 

While I can't say I was a huge fan of the Cardigans' biggest U.S. hit,  1996's "Lovefool", once they released the disk, Gran Turismo, I was hooked on them. That disk and all of the following ones were great. Unfortunately, Super Extra Gravity was their last release - eight years ago.

But lead singer, Nina Persson, has her first solo disk out, Animal Heart. I accidentally stumbled upon it the evening before it was released - I never saw a word about her doing this.

Persson has played and released music with another band, A Camp, and they had two or three decent songs, but nothing as stellar as the Cardigans.

You might say the same for Animal Heart.

The songs have a similar structure as her "full-time" band - and you can see what she brings to the songwriting process for the band, but it is that old adage, you don't know what you've got till it's gone.

I'm always amazed that many think the lead singer is the band, but that "fact" is proven wrong time after time: Brandon Flowers (the Killers) solo disk bombed.  Most Debbie Harry solo disks were not nearly as good as Blondie. Most of Stevie Nicks' solo work pales in comparison to how her bandmates helped compliment on her songs.

So the Cardigans - the rest of them - truly bring somethings to the table that are positive. Persson even did a better solo song with "Black Winged Bird" back in 2006.

Don't get me wrong: the songs on Animal Heart are fine, but I don't know I'd call many as stand-outs.

Persson has always been good about not following standard "rules" of modulation, and those have usually worked in her favour - and do so here as well ("Burning Bridges for Fuel", "Clip Your Wings")

"Clip Your Wings" has a George Harrison guitar vibe to it, though it's much more buried than Harrison would have done.

I like the title track, though it uses an '80s keyboard technique that has been done....a lot, but overall the song is probably the closest to a Cardigan's tune - not that her work should sound like that band. Quite the opposite if you're doing something on your own.

I do love "Dreaming of Houses" and "Food for the Beast".

I want to be excited about others like "Forgot to Tell You", "Jungle and "The Grand Destruction Game" - but it's hard to when Persson doesn't seem that engaged by them herself.

Like I said - the songs and delivery are fine, but I've come to expect more from Persson - be it her solo stuff, A Camp or the Cardigans.

I like Animal Heart, but I'm not loving it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Honey Hi

I'm a little late in getting this out, considering I made it last week.

I'm also thinking if I can make one new recipe per week, I can knock off another blog entry per week that way. This might be too ambitious though. On bad or busy days I just revert to my stand-by dishes that I can make quickly.  ...and don't have to document.

You've seen that I've had iffy results with the slow cooker. The one chili dish. Then there was the horrid ravioli one. I remember having a decent brisket one a long time ago, but nothing that wow'd me enough to redo it.

Yet, here I am, making another attempt at another dish: Honey "Sesame" Chicken.

The sesame is in quotes because I ended up not using the sesame seeds. I'm almost embarrassed to tell you how out of date those seeds were.

The spice cabinet has got to be the black hole of grocery money. Small amounts of spice one probably doesn't use up in the allotted time and they are pricey!  ...and they just languish up there until it's too late. with sesame seeds. I mean, how often are people using those?  If I'm a barometer, not often.


3-4 skinless boneless chicken boobies
1/2 cup of diced onion
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
2 T olive or vegetable oil *
1/4 t red pepper flakes
4 t corn starch
1/3 cup of water
salt and pepper
3 scallions
1/2 T sesame seeds
Rice - optional

Salt and pepper chicken breasts on both sides, place in crock pot (no picture, sorry).

Mix in bowl: onion, garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, oil, and red pepper flakes. Pour into the crock pot over the chicken.

Cook on low 3-4 hours (or high for 2 hours).

Remove chicken and shred it (though I suppose dicing it would be fine).

Mix corn starch and water together, add into the liquid still in crock pot. Cook covered on high for 10 minutes to thicken - stirring occasionally. It doesn't thicken up all that much (or mine did not).

If using rice, make separately according to their / your directions.

Place chicken on rice, pour sauce on top. Add chopped scallions and sesame seeds.

The flavours were great. The sweetness of the honey, the saltiness of the soy and the heat from the red pepper flakes mingled well - none being over powering. The scallion helps. I think the sesame seeds would have too had we actually used them.

This serves 4 - so adjust your proportions if you're making it for more or less.

Since there are only two of us, we just dished up onto plates. For larger groups, it would look nice dished out onto a serving platter.

The prep time was swift. Mincing the garlic took the most time. Ok, maybe shredding the chicken took longer, but 710 helped on that part. Unfortunately for the go-to office person, the cook time is tricky - as it is not one of those in the crock pot dishes that takes up to 8 hours, only up to 3-4 on low or 2 hours on high. That is the only draw back that I can see.

* wondered if using Sesame Oil would be have been preferable, an option, or too overpowering.

Song by:  Fleetwood Mac

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Music Monday

I know I've mentioned being a fan of Alison Krauss + Union Station.

Come April, it will be three years since the band has put out an album. They need to get moving on that - though it was seven years between their last two disks, so I'm not that hopeful they'll be expedient.

Technically, Union Station has two lead vocalists - with Alison and Dan Tyminski. Both have semi-recent projects out, so I says to myself, I says:  Why not make today a two-fer?

Krauss has a semi-traditional piece out - released late last year. It's a song from something called Frog Trouble. A collection of songs from an illustrated songbook. I don't quite get it, but I like the song, "End of a Summer Storm", a lot. I don't think Union Station appears on the song, but it's hard to tell. There is guitar and mandolin, but there is also piano, which the group doesn't use. Of course here, the piano is used to symbolize the summer storm.

The song is good, and since it's from a children's (like) book, the video is a I suppose it works. But as I always say - this is not about the video, just the music. So I hope you enjoy it.

Tyminski's project is less traditional for a bluegrass guitarist and mandolin player. He provides vocals for Avicii's "Hey Brother" (which you may have gotten a free download of a dance version if you had the 12 Days of Christmas app in December).

I got bored a bit with Avicii's "Wake Up". It's ok now and again, but radio, for what little I even listen to it, was all over it.  Too much so.  Radio knows how to kill a tune.

So I thought the combination of a dance music artist and a bluegrass one was an interesting combination.

Tyminski is a voice that needs no auto-tuning, yet Avicii feels the need. It's not Key-Dollar-Sign-Ha or Britney Spears auto-tuned, but still.....   I guess you can't have a radio friendly tune without some auto-tune these days....and isn't that just sad?

I like Dan's voice, but I don't know it's anything to which I'd ever get out onto the dance floor in which to shake my money maker.  But I'm not a going out to dance kind of guy anyways.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

the Mediocre Presidents

Tomorrow is President's Day.

It's not big enough of a "holiday" to derail a My Music Monday post, but I'm fairly certain that in almost of 11 years of blogging, I have never done a President's Day post.

I guess that all changes now!

Growing up, all images of President's Day are the obvious ones:  Washington and Lincoln. Sometimes Jefferson was thrown in there, but that's about as far as it went.

The Simpsons had a great little song about the 'mediocre presidents' back when the show was still good - and relevant. Maybe 15 years ago.  The tune was spot on:

"we are the adequate, forgettable, occasionally regrettable, caretaker presidents of the U.S.A."

The song goes on to mention Taylor, Tyler, Filmore and then Hayes....and William Henry Harrison ("I died in 30 days!").

It is possible I can name all 44 presidents....though not in order. At least for a while in Memphis, some streets go in order of the presidents, though I doubt there are two Adams so close together - that could be confusing. And I don't think they have 44 streets that are presidentially named. Still, I think I could do it. And at least since 1900, I think I can get them in the correct order.

So I've been carrying around this title image for months:

Mediocre President Pez Dispensers.

Maybe Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson's families have tighter control of their images and brands. That's why you get Arthur, Harrison, Cleveland, Taft and the "other" Roosevelt.  ....and they have to be identified on the stem.

....I'm just saying, you don't need to write "Luke Skywalker" on his.

Nor are names marked on the box set that was sitting next to the elected officials.

Song by: the cast of the Simpsons

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Settle Down

Petey Porn day.

Possibly the best day of the week!

Apparently every sofa, chair and dog bed are now his. Petey's arranging the blanket "his way", which of course is the correct way. 

 My favourite pic of the week. So innocent.   ...and he really is. 

 Nothing makes me happier than to see Petey curled up and resting on 710's lap. 

This was taken by 710 and sent to me while I was in Michigan. He was getting to go out the door to work and Petey settled in for a long morning's nap.  At least till the dog walker got there. 

Song by: Kimbra

Friday, February 14, 2014


You know I'm not big on Valentine's Day. You've read all the posts for the last decade regarding this so-called holiday and the lazy-assed people who need a designated day to say "I love you".

My position remains unchanged.

...and whatever my issues with the holiday goes double when it falls on a Friday or Saturday.

Going out on VD is a non-starter. Going out on VD, during the weekend is so not gonna happen.

I gotta think of something to cook for dinner for 710. If you have any ideas get to me sooner than later. Maybe it'll be a standard dinner and perhaps I'll attempt to bake.

That would be a gift!

Since I traveled part of this week, there is no card for 710, though it's possible there one might be waiting when he gets home - but no promises.  He'll understand.

And still the best card I ever got was from Rebecca. ....which I wrote about here two years ago.

ok...that's a lie. 710 gave me a handmade card about a decade ago that is great and filed away for safe keeping.....somewhere.

Song by: Heart

Thursday, February 13, 2014

12 of 12

So I'm doing my 48th 12 of 12

Normally it is 12 pictures taken on the 12
th of the month. Since I only post once per day, you get my images the following day. All pictures taken with my iPhone. Click images to enlarge, if you choose.

Created by Chad Darnell and picked up from, what I can tell, a number of random bloggers who then link back to him and vice versa. Chad is no longer doing this, nor is successor coordinating the linking of other 12 of 12'ers anymore. Now it's just ErikJim and myself - that I know of. 

I still continue to do this, because of all my consistent post topics, I actually like this one the most.

06:30. Time to take the trash out to the curb. Just like Sheila E., my life is glamourous. 

07:00.  ....but she's ok with the name 'Crabtree'. 

08:20.  How I will possibly die - Pt. 1

09:35.  Conference call.  Love my bluetooth headset. ...but never to wear outdoors. 

11:00. Mr. Pete and his shadow. 

11:15.  Judson Manor. Clear blue, sunny skies. Still cold as fuck. (it would eventually get up to 34 degrees!!!)

12:30. Inclined sit-up selfie.  Lunchtime workout. 

13:10.  An homage to my cousin and his work.  The Veale Parking Garage on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. 

13:40.  Lunch. Homemade vegetable soup - this time w rotini added.

15:00. How I will possibly die - Pt 2.

18:10.  Winter Moonrise.  2nd doggie walk - and it was back to bitter cold.

20:30.  Items laid out for a day trip to Michigan. I leave at 05:30.

That is for next month. Well, for my 12 of 12, that is. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Send Her My Love

I am so over Yahoo.

'tis sad, I still have a Yahoo account which has acted as my primary personal email address since the mid-90s. Oh sure, I have others - one for professional correspondence, and because I'm a schmuck, I wasn't about to let anyone get my name in Outlook before me, so I snagged that too.

Not that I've ever used the Outlook account, but that's not the point now, is it?

I did not snag my preferred-name gmail account when I had the chance, so I got a lesser version of that - and it's been a problem. But so had my Yahoo account email.

First off - Marissa Mayer & Co have really done nothing to improve the mail system. They tried to mimic certain gmail aspects, but have failed miserably. Also, often - several times per day - things just clock trying to get into an email, let alone to craft a response or send. I'm done.

...or on my way to being done.

Also, I've mentioned, way in the past, of some of my email accounts getting a stream of messages meant for another guy. No, I have no idea who said "guy" is. Or guys.

It's possibly two different ones.  Or one guy has moved between Texas and Connecticut.

The best I can come up with is his name is Richard.  The email mistake might be explainable if my email address were just my first initial and last name, but it's not. It's my full first name - which, by the way, is not Richard.

Sure I've been called Dick....or "a" dick...often, but it's not my given name.

I've had water bills forwarded to me. I've had church bbq invites sent my way. I've seen his notification of his rental property being flooded. I have gotten high school reunion announcements. I have seen major planning for a bachelor party for a cabin in the Rockies.

There is maintenance to be had on his Mercedes (the only thing in common we share besides a Y chromosome). There are school functions for his kids that need tended to. And if I'm getting this right, another kid on the way - if the OB/GYN emails are any indication.

Years ago, "I" even had an ex-girlfriend try to get back together with "me". I think that's the one I wrote about here years ago - as clearly they were so close she didn't even have his correct fucking email address.

That last one was my first breaking point. "Richard" might have emailed her back saying "he" wasn't interested in her anymore, as "I" was now into guys.  ...but if there were any brothers like her at home....

"Richard" never got another email from her again.....unless she got his new address.

It should be noted that I have tried doing the noble thing and emailing the school, the car dealer, the bank, the water company, the rental manager, the OB - all for nothing.  The car dealer was the only one to respond, said they'd fix the problem and then promptly restarted their chain of shit for service.

My second breaking point might have been a week or two ago and it might have been in the form of the e-vite you see in the upper image.

Oh, I was going to ignore it. Honest.  But then two or three more emails for him showed up, about lord knows what, just tipped me over the edge and I replied to the e-vite.

I responded that I would not be attending with the added comment that may have gone something like: "fuck no, I would NEVER attend. I've always hated that bitch!"

What? Too harsh?

Once again, no one ever responded.  What does a boy have to do to garner some (any) kind of response from people?  I'd at least expect a "fuck off" - but no. Nothing.

Anyhoo - I've secured a new, better gmail address. I just have to import my contacts over and start transitioning things as needed.  g-d, I hope it goes smoothly.   ....and then the slow dumping of Yahoo. For good.

Song by: Journey