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davew's picture

This Just In

In front of a crowd of two or three slightly enthusiastic supporters yesterday John McCain announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Only a churl would point out that this is remarkably similar to other announcements he has made over the last few months. In fact he only previously announced that he "was seeking the nomination", "running for extremely high office", and "looking for a better apartment, perhaps something on Pennsylvania Avenue." He also reminded the crowd to look forward to upcoming very important announcements on Letterman, Leno, Looney Tunes, and The L Word. My Tivo can hardly wait. I for one am pleased that this deeply serious and principled man is running for office again. As a former prisoner of war he knows that torture and illegal detention are absolutely wrong. He also has the experience to maintain definitions for torture and illegal detention that are fluid enough to avoid having to take politically inconvenient positions. Not since Ronald Reagan have we seen someone who can read party-line talking points with such utter conviction. Some people view the senator's age as a liability and a disadvantage. Nonsense. When the time comes being a bit long in the tooth can really help you sell lines like, "I have no clear recollection of that incident." You go, Senator McCain! I am as solidly behind you as you are behind those moderate, common sense positions you used to have a few years ago.

davew's picture

Poignant Observation du Jour

What keeps love scenes in movies from ever being a truly erotic experience for the actors involved is the knowledge that the director can yell "cut" at any time. Of course anyone who owns a cat already understands this.

davew's picture

Holy Coinkydink, Batman!

Imagine if you will a fairly obscure science fiction short story from the Golden Age. (1943) The story in question is _Mimsy Were the Borogroves_ by Lewis Padgett (that's actually an alias for a husband and wife writing team.) Now imaging some screenwriter trying to turn this into a movie (in spite of the fact that it never works: see every attempt at filming Asimov's _Nightfall_ or the dreadful _Starship Troopers_ for examples). Correction, trying to turn this into a family movie. (Typical Golden Age plot: Man falls into robotic kitchen and becomes lunch for six to eight. Not exactly kid friendly.)

So far you might be wondering why I would waste your time and mine by telling you about a really excellent short story that got turned into a mediocre movie. Guess which story I just happened to read just last night? Don't that beat all! It's a good thing I am a firm believer in coincidence or I'd spend all day trying to piece together the religious and/or philosophical implications. Just in case, though, I'm going to go home tonight and read _Ringworld Engineers_ again. Peter Jackson would direct, natch. I think Glenne Headly has the right combination of haplessness and spunk to play Teela. Ron Livingston has the everyman quality necessary for Luis Wu (some makeup would be required), and who else but Dick Chenney for the cowardly, all-powerful, two-headed space alien Nessus (no makeup required.)

davew's picture

Got Him!

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed today to being the mastermind of the 9/11 attack as well as many others. His testimony was taken in oral and written form in a secret hearing in an undisclosed location in a secret language and then redacted for reasons of national secrecy. "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z," Mohammed said during the hearing. Prosecutors agreed it was "mighty white" of him to confess in English using an English colloquialism. "We're not sure we can convict him if he had only been responsible from 'spitting lips to poofy tail' or from 'dates to yogurt'."

In addition to the World Trade Center attacks, both of them, Mohammed claimed authorship of the Madrid train bombings, the London subway attacks, and the shoe bomber. Then, according to all present, he really got on a role. Mohammed took responsibility for the attack on the USS Cole, the Hobart Towers, and the USS Maine. "I caused every hurricane between 1998 and 2003 as well as rather nasty outbreak of heat rash at a nursery school in Roseville New York. I am responsible for moldy cheese, spoiled milk, and that last, slightly-off cherry tomato that tastes like it came out of a goat's ass." He spun detailed stories about plans to assassinate several US Presidents "if only that meddling John Wilkes Booth hadn't gotten in the way."

Reporters asked president Bush this morning, "I we truly believe that we have captured the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, what exactly are we doing in Iraq again?" The president responded, "It's a secret."

davew's picture

Purely Succulent Meat Offering


I was watching an episode of Good Eats while I was hungry. This is a very bad move. I swear if Alton Brown had given a recipe for belly button lint and toenail scrapings I would have all over it. As it happens what he was cooking up was even easier to taste right through the television: beef tenderloin. Texture like butter. Price like platinum. So tender you can absorb it through your skin. Yum. Of course this is Alton Brown who is always a little on the frugal side and a lot on the crazy side so he didn't just purchase a wallet-load of filets. Nope. He was slicing up a whole loin from Sam's Club. This put it back into the realm of the theoretical. Tasty, but theoretical. I don't have a Sam's Club nearby, and I certainly don't have a membership. Still, I watched on.

Philly Cheesesteak. Oh, my. Petite roast. Yummy! Filet Mignon.Tonguegasm! Okay now I really had to get me one. After pricing out the pieces parts I decided that the whole loin was definitely the way to go. Unfortunately I had no luck finding one. All the butchers and megamarts want to chop it up for you and charge a hefty premium. I was completely bumfuzzled. I shared my woe at work, and a genius level coworker pointed out that our company has an account and we shop there every week or two for kitchen supplies. Perhaps I could monger my meat that way. I proposed the idea to our designated shopper it was accepted. A few days later, this morning as a matter of fact, I was presented with 10 pounds of loin for $90. (This is a PSMO - Pealed Side Meat On in food service terms.) This may not strike you as much of a deal, but trust me it is. Or don't trust me. I'll break it down for you.

I won't recap the entire Good Eats episode, you can watch it or look up the transcript of _Tender is the Loin_ on www.goodeatsfanpage.com. Once the trimming is done you are left with 3 large pieces. This took me 30 minutes and I am the purest newbie. There is the side meat or "chain" which weighed 2lb 9oz in my case. This is the most difficult piece to use, but since this is a loin so it's not all that difficult. I'll either use it for stew or beef stroganoff or maybe I'll do what AB did and grill and chop and get my cheesesteak on. Then there's the Petite Roast which weighed 2lb 1oz. Like the chain this is a clearly distinct piece. Unlike the chain it is almost as tender as the fillets. You can carve it into steaks or roast it whole. I think I'm going to stuff with bleu cheese and roast like AB did. The rest can be used for Chateaubriand, or filets, or some combination of the two. I used most of it for 9 filets for a total weight of about 4lb. Now if you are doubting the value, price out the filets and the best 2lb roast at any store. You're way ahead already even with the Chain of Love. That left about a pound and a half of juice, trimmings, and plastic. Not too shabby.

I asked my dearest and most beloved for serving suggestions and she opted for Steak au Poivre. This is Pepper Steak in Alabama. This will happen Saturday and I can almost guarantee you an update shortly after.

Ellen's picture

Adventures in ADHD-land

My therapist interrupted me while I was describing my inability to get
things done and told me that I had ADHD. I was startled. No one had ever
suggested that before. I asked her why she thought that. She
explained that I had trouble focusing and finishing things which is a
hallmark of ADHD. I was bright and was able to get by in school because
of that. Most people who suffer from ADHD are bright. My first
reaction was, cool. You mean, there is a reason why I am the way I am? I
am not just an inadequate human and a waste of skin? It felt, very
briefly, kind of good. But then I got home and thought, whoa! If I have
ADHD, then a likely solution was to take the drug Ritalin. Ritalin is
what is usually prescribed for people with ADHD, but I was not going to
take Ritalin. No way. I had heard that it had been over prescribed among
children and that it zoned you totally out. And I wasn

Ellen's picture

Bubbly

For Valentine

davew's picture

How to Make a Billion

Suppose you are a criminal mastermind, and you want a lot of money. I reckon you don't have to want a lot of money to be a criminal mastermind, but it certainly doesn't hurt. You've watched enough Bond movies to know that building secret, underground armies, stealing nuclear weapons, or launching space-based weapons is fun and flashy, but is bound to draw all manner of highly negative attention. That's a good formula for dying young and leaving a really hideous corpse or perhaps a small pile of ash. I have a cunning plan that cannot fail. As a matter of fact I'm pretty sure this idea has already been implemented and succeeding marvelously.

Start with a simple crime, let's say larceny. Again, breaking into Fort Knox has already been shown ineffective. Think smaller. How about breaking into houses? Stealing cars? Not just one house or one car. I'm thinking thousands. Maybe tens of thousands. See? Each crime is small enough not to rate very highly on the police radar let alone draw the attention of MI-5. But if you do enough of them it can really add up. And your minions don't need to know how to operate a machine gun or a computer. A set of lock picks will do fine. Now all we need is some way to tell when thousands of people are going to be distracted enough to not notice their Taurus or microwave is missing for a while. A moon-base with a hypnosis ray? No. Think smaller! Who needs a hypnosis ray when you have satellite TV? See? So you get something on TV that you know when and for how long these people will be distracted. Not every show appeals to everyone so you need some way to identify the marks. How about sell them clothes, hats, bumper stickers, license place holders, flags, beer coolers, and anything else you can think of clearly imprinted with the name of their favorite distraction?

I think you can see where I am headed with this. Pro-sports and NASCAR. It's brilliant. Until this very moment I had no idea why these existed, but that's just because I hadn't thought of the criminal mastermind angle before. The marks identify themselves with uniforms they pay for! You know exactly when and for how long these people are going to be completely distracted. See a gaggle of garishly dressed folks leaving together? Hello housebreaking! See a driveway full of cars where the paint jobs are nearly completely hidden by stickers with numbers and checkered flags? Hello used car lot! If you can couple this with some sort of food craze like deep-fried vegetable products and truly heinous beer, you can put a legit front on your criminal empire and double your profits. Sure it will take time and energy to figure out which programs will work. Have you ever wondered why so many sports come and go? Women's basketball, bowling, the XFL? Bad return on investment.

Now that once again it is time for the annual contest to see who can make the prettiest left turn, the Daytona 500, I have only one thing to say. Gentlemen, steal your engines!

davew's picture

The Honeymoon is Over

The honeymoon lasted a glorious 100 hours. Now 100 hours ain't bad if you're newlyweds doing the horizontal hokey-pokey the whole time, in fact it may be a record of sorts, but when it is a metaphor our brand spanking new congress it's just a little sad. To give due credit, our crop of eager beavers did accomplish much of what they set out to do in the first 100 hours until of course it gets watered down by the opposition and/or vetoed. (If the house-senate conference committee had big huevos they'd strip the tax cuts completely out of the minimum wage bill and dare the Senate not to pass it again. If they had huevos the size of the last house-senate conference committee they'd change it into a bill that raises the minimum wage to $30 an hour, makes everything west of the Mississippi a national park, and appoints Hillary as Queen and then ram it through the Senate using the threat of the "nukular option", but congresspersons these days just can't grow 'em to that size.)

So what has congress been spending it's time on since then? Babbling on and on about a non-binding resolution calling the president a war-mongering, poopy head. This is what we on the kindergarten playground used to call "stickin' it." Nothing will actually change whether this resolution passes or not. It's just a safe way to be kind of, sort of against the war in Iraq without actually doing anything. The people in favor of this colossal waste of time claim it sends the message that we as a country are against the surge. I believe this message has already been sent by the last election and every poll since then. The president gets it. He just doesn't care. Of course the opposition doesn't want their guy to get stuck, so they clog up the whole works so even the thing that wouldn't do anything doesn't get done.

Here's a free suggestion to the newly ensconced Democratic majority: drop it. It's a waste. You know that, and we know that. Stop spending your time and our money on this drivel. If you really do want to bring the troops home you've got the federal budget in your hands right now. Grow a spine, get out your red pens, and go to work. You have the power to pull the troops home with a purse string. If you are unwilling to do this because you believe it would be wrong or you lack the political courage, fine. Then still drop it and get onto something where you can make a difference. I hear global warming might be a bit of a problem.

davew's picture

Frittata: The Ultimate Refrigerator Velcro

If you are a good person, and I assume that you are, you owe it to yourself to and your taste buds to put this in your mouth at earliest possible convenience. Frittata, like the omelet, is flat and egg based. Unlike the omelet, this dish is easy enough for a guy to make, not so picky about cooking times, and does not require any tricky origami at the end. Best of all the french egg police won't show up if you leave it in the pan for 1/10 second too long.

Now this dish can be made in any pan that can safely operate on a cook top and in the oven, but really, cast iron is the perfect tool for the job. If you don't own a cast iron frying pan, well, why the hell not?! They're versatile, indestructible, and cheap. My big one cost twelve bucks and I have made everything from bechamel sauce to steak in it. Honestly if you refuse to own one of these beauties I will have to pretend I don't know you when we meet in public.

I first heard the term "refrigerator velcro" on Alton Brown's _Good Eats_. It refers to any dish that allows you to incorporate any leftovers you might have hanging around. In this case almost anything from left-over Chinese food to pizza toppings would work. The only restrictions are that anything that needs to be cooked, except the eggs, must be cooked first -- especially liquid-filled things like fresh spinach and mushrooms. Yum!

A final word on the process. Below I am going to recommend separating the eggs and whipping the egg whites. I know many a grown man who will run from the room shrieking like a little girl at the prospect of either. This step can be skipped and you will still have a lovely comestible, but to me the texture and flavor difference imparted by this step is transformative. You owe it to yourself to try it at least once

Diva Fritatta Recipe
5 eggs, separated
4 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed
2 oz swiss cheese grated
salt and pepper to taste

(Again almost any reasonable food substance will work as a topping. My favorite combo so far is sauteed chard with balsamic vinaigrette, sauteed mushrooms, and gruyere cheese. I was trying to keep this simple though.)

Separate the eggs. Whip the egg whites to medium peaks. Add a pinch or two of salt to the yolks and lightly whip them for 20-30 seconds just to get them nice and stirred up. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolks. (Don't know from fold? Dump the egg whites into the egg yolk bowl. Grab a large spatula and push it down the side of the bowl to the bottom, grab a dollop of yolk, and bring it up to the top. Gently. Do this again and again rotating the bowl as you work until the mixture is mostly, but not entirely, homogenous. Don't sweat this step too much. It's not a souffle we're making here.)

Warm your pan to medium heat. If you have an electric broiler now would be a good time to turn that on too. Once the pan is hot, lubricate (butter is nice, so is olive oil, or even non-stick spray), and add the egg mixture. If you've done a good job with the whipping/folding they'll form a mountain in the middle of the pan. Spread this out evenly. Add the toppings across the surface. You'll want to cook this until it is just starting to brown on the bottom and the eggs are pretty thoroughly set -- about 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Next, place the pan under the broiler. It should puff up and bubble most delightfully. Leave it there until the fritatta is brown on top.

Slide the fritatta out of the pan, add pepper to taste, slice like a pizza, and serve. In my house this serves two people.

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