Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 11

Howdy true-beloggers! Welcome to the the 11th consecutive week of the column that nobody reads. Today the zombie apocalypse is on my mind, a cow with a giant hole in it, the economy, and the other usuals, let's get to it.

[Book Review: Monster Island]

I spent this past Friday celebrating my cousin Antonio's 2nd birthday; fun was had by all. During the festivities I somehow got on the subject of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" with my 8 year old cousin Ryan. I told him the story of how his Aunt Clara used to scare the hell out of me playing the video over and over again when I was younger than him. Clara has done an excellent job of instilling a fear of zombies in me since I was knee high which has resulted in years of me attempting to overcome this phobia by consuming as much zombie media as I can get my hands on.

This week I was turned on to a book called Monster Island. It is the standard "dead over-run New York City" tale. A few of the zombies develop intelligence which is the big "twist" of this story. The book was better written that popular zombie novel "Dead Rising" by Brian Keene (and the follow up stories). Writer David Wellington does a fine job, although the urge for these writers to use the main character's children as their will to live gets old (the main character's child in Monster Nation isn't even his). I also was disappointed that an origin for the plague wasn't provided (as with most zombie horror). The Monster series (yes there are three books) is a solid addition to the zombie genre, but it isn't innovative. The king of the genre is still Max Brooks

If you want to prepare yourself for the coming zombie onslaught, you can read Wellington's book in blog format here

[DIY of the Week: Making a Digital TV Antenna]

For all you people who don't want to get another cable box for their new digital TV...


Maker Workshop - DTV Antenna & Steadicam on MAKE: television from make magazine on Vimeo.

Materials: Click Here

[Recipe of the Week: PLT]

Ingredients

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

6 slices whole-wheat or sourdough bread

6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

3 cups arugula

2 tomatoes, sliced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

Whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and zest in a small bowl to blend. Set the mayonnaise mixture aside.

Toast the bread on a panini grill or griddle until golden brown. Spread the mayonnaise mixture over each slice of toast. Arrange the prosciutto over the toasts, dividing equally. Top with the arugula, then the tomatoes. Drizzle the oil over the sandwiches, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut the sandwiches into 3 equal pieces and serve.


{UPDATE}

Last week we made a Beef and Beer Stew (Link). Having done the recipe this week, I would recommend that you add the entire can of Guiness beer (which is 14 oz instead of the recommended 10.5) and I would also recommend adding another 4 oz of beef broth. Keep tasting for salt as needed.

[Gross Out]

Since we are talking about food...I shared this on my google reader earlier this week and caused quite a commotion. You should watch it if you can.



Holy Cow! - video powered by Metacafe


[Economy Blues]

Every time I turn on the computer I read another article about a company cutting thousands of jobs. The American economy needs to CREATE 1,000,000 jobs every year to keep up with the population growth. I know we are down at least 100,000 this year already with no stopping in view. So if you find yourself unemployed, here are some helpful hints to get back on your feet:

Improve your resume

[Conclusion]

Thanks for reading this week. Don't let the rough economy keep you down. We have a new President and lets hope new leadership gets the gears of the economy running smoothly. Don't be afraid to get involved in some activities that will help you diversity your skills, network, and perspective. Talk to you next week and until then, don't take shit from anybody!

Love,
Joey

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 10

Howdy true be-loggers! Welcome to Sunday Leftovers. This week I am going to save you some time at the book store by reviewing some of the books I have read the last month. I am also going to share an awesome DIY and a cool recipe. Lets begin...

[Books: Literary Dumping Grounds]

The last few weeks I have read a lot of books, so I thought I would share. My library is small and doesn't have a huge on-site selection (they have to order them from the bigger branches), so while I wait for books I want, I just grab the newest books they have regardless if I am interested. Most of the books I have been reading are non-fiction autobiographies...

* Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher: Carrie Fisher from Star Wars fame is totally out of her mind. Drugs, Booze, bi-polar disorder, gay ex-husbands. This woman is a train-wreck and doesn't give a damn. Her delivery of all of this crazy shit is funny, but she doesn't take accountability for most of it. People just happened to have drugs, or they just magically went up her nose, etc etc. Funny and quick read, but she caught at the end of a months worth of reading people's pity parties and I have had enough.

* The Late Bloomers Revolution by Amy Cohen: This is the worst book I have ever read in my life. I know it is geared towards women, but ladies if you are taking this shit in as inspiration no wonder you have fucking problems. The book is advertised as a women reinventing herself when her love life does not work out. The book is really about her bitching about her mother dying and then never managing to hold on to a man. No self-analysis. Her problems are never because of her. She never steps back and tries to understand her behavior. The book ends with her getting dumped by yet another man whom she was briefly engaged. This woman didn't do anything to reinvent herself except learn to ride a bike a 36. LAME.

* Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica: Waiter Rant has its origins in a popular blog called Waiter Rant. It is a great premise for a blog. He can rant about some terrible person mistreating him while he serves them dinner. As a book, I don't think it holds up. The waiter gets into his background and how he ended up being a career waiter but he has the typical stuck up New York attitude which hurts him as a protagonist, but you still end up sympathizing with him in most cases. My issue with the book is that the end goal was the book. The great success is that he gets a book deal and that might be his out from waiting tables, but you won't know unless there is another book but what would be the point then? He is going to have to leave this topic/field that he is a master of if he wants to do another book, but will his audience follow?

* The Soloist by Steve Lopez: You might know about this one as it has been turned into a movie with Robert Downey Jr. and Jaime Foxx. It is about a musically gifted homeless man in Los Angeles and the newspaper reporter that becomes his guardian angel. I liked the intention of this book, but half way through I started to see the introduction of plausible excuses. Steve might not be able to help this man because he is so mentally unstable. That is the struggle of the book, the homeless man is perfectly content, everyone else struggles with the idea of him being in danger and making him safe. By the end, there is no resolution, he is given instruments and an apartment where he can go in the slums when he chooses (which is 50/50). The book is written but the story isn't finished. I am curious to see how they end the movie as American audiences love happy endings.



* Meant to Be by Walter Anderson: A story about a man growing up abused by his father only to find out it isn't his real father. The man then goes out to find out who he real father was. That is the story. The only reason the book came out is because Walter is CEO of Parade magazine. The book is well written and there is a fine story about coming up from nothing and doing something with your life, but it has been said before, and it doesn't add anything new to the idea, but at least there is a happy ending (sort of).

* The Things Between Us by Lee Montgomery: I started reading another book about a woman who has an alcholic mother and a father dying of cancer, but I stopped reading it because I just didn't care. There was nothing extraordinary about the person telling the story except she, like many of the books I mentioned here, exploit their families for a book deal.

If you are reading this and thinking you want to write a novel about your life. Make sure YOU are interesting and not just the people in your life. If they other people are more interesting, maybe they should write the book.

[Recipe of the Week: Beef and Beer Stew]

It is the winter and it is cold, so here is a nice stew recipe to warm you up:

Ingredients:

* 2 pounds stew beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
* 2 tablespoons oil or part bacon drippings
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon dried ground marjoram
* 1/4 teaspoon dried leaf tarragon
* 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil
* 1 medium bay leaf
* 1 can (10 1/2 ounce) condensed beef broth
* 1 can or bottle (12 ounce) beer
* 4 medium carrots, chopped in 1-inch pieces
* 4 medium to large potatoes, cut in 1-inch cubes
* 6 small onions, peeled and cut in quarters
* salt or seasoned salt to taste
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup cold water

Preparation:

In a skillet brown the meat in the hot oil. Add the herbs and seasonings, beef broth, and beer. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Add the vegetables and continue cooking for 30 to 30 minutes longer, until vegetables are tender. Taste and add salt to taste.

In a small bowl or cup mix the flour and water until smooth; stir into the stew until hot and thickened.

Serves 6.

PS - Last week chutney recipe came out so good. I had to grill the peppers in 10 degree weather, but it was totally worth it

[DIY of the Week: Build a Mobile Bar]

Ok this is not a weekend project, but it IS a robotic bar.... How fucking cool:



Full instructions:
Robotic Bar - "Bar2D2"

[News Item: Ryan Adams retires]

I read this week that my favorite alt-country rocker Ryan Adams is quitting the music business for a while. Ryan is going deaf in both ears and has a medical condition that messes up his balance. While this has been going on, he quit smoking and eating meat. He stopped doing drugs and drinking a while ago if you were wondering. So this means one of the few people I absolutely love musically, is going to stop putting out product.

I hope Ryan's ear issues get resolved and he can continue to make music. I hope his band "The Cardinals" stay together and keep making music (with or without him). I hope Ryan's new book "Infinity Blues" is a good read. I hope that Ryan releases the 10 albums worth of material he has sitting around until he gets better (I refuse to accept that he won't). I also hope he finds a nice girl that isn't crazy or famous.


RA- "OK I SURRENDER" DemoVid from Wilson Wolf on Vimeo.

[Rant of the Week: Fickle Fans]

I am finishing up this blog as the Eagle lose the NFC Championship game. I will freely admit that I am not a football fan, and I kinda can't stand Philadelphia sports fans in general, but this year the fans annoyed me more than usual...

First the team sucks and everyone is calling for McNabb and Reid's head (fine - if they aren't doing well, that is a reasonable expectation). Then they do well and everyone starts sucking feathered cock and having wet dreams about two championships in one year (bullshit meter is rising). Now everyone is calling for McNabb and Reid's head again. Pick a side and stay with it. Be and fan or don't be a fan, just don't jump on the bandwagon (good or bad).

When I bust balls about people getting too wrapped up in the games, they tell me "you just don't know what it is to be a sports fan and to be loyal to the team". I saw a lot of people changing their facebook pictures to Eagles logos this week now saying the Eagles suck. Maybe I don't know much about football, but I do know something about loyalty... so I guess you are right, I just don't get it.

[Conclusion]

That's all I have this week. If anyone tries out any of the recipes from the last few weeks, let me know how they turned out (or the DIY for that matter). If anyone wants to make that booze robot with me... I am so fucking in! Until next week, don't take shit from anybody.

Love,
Joey

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 09

Howdy true be-loggers! Welcome to Sunday Leftovers. This week is going to be a quick one but we will talk about fitness, burrito guns, and a few other items.

[Health and Fitness]

As most of you know, I struggle with keeping weight off, but I don't get discouraged, it is just one of the things I have to deal with in my life. My friends took some pics on New Years Eve and I realized that even though I have been working out, I have not been paying attention. So I have taken the last week to revise my strategy which was due for an overhaul.

Not going to get preachy, so here is the work out plan for the new few months. Also cutting out all things sugar.

Joey and Paul Q1 2009 Work Out

[Recipe of the Week]

Chilli-Pepper Chutney

I snagged this off of Jamie Oliver whom I think is quite good for being British :-)

INGREDIENTS
8-10 fresh red chillies
8 ripe red peppers
olive oil
2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
a sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
a 5cm piece of cinnamon stick
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g brown sugar
150ml balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS
If you want your chutney to last for a while, make sure you have some small sterilized jars ready to go. Place your chillies and peppers over a hot barbecue, in a griddle pan or on a tray under a hot grill, turning them now and then until blackened and blistered all over. Carefully lift the hot peppers and chillies into a bowl (the smaller chillies won’t take as long as the peppers so remove them first) and cover tightly with plastic-wrap. As they cool down, they’ll cook gently in their own steam. By the time they’re cool enough to handle, you’ll be able to peel the skin off easily.

When you’ve got rid of most of the skin, trimmed off the stalks and scooped out the seeds, you’ll be left with a pile of nice tasty peppers and chillies. Finely chop by hand or put in a food processor and whiz up. Then put to one side.

Heat a saucepan and pour in a splash of olive oil. Add the onions, rosemary, bay leaves and cinnamon and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook very slowly for about 20 minutes or so, until the onions become rich, golden and sticky.

Add the chopped peppers and chillies, the sugar and the vinegar to the onions and keep cooking. When the liquid reduces and you’re left with a lovely thick sticky chutney, season well to taste. Remove the cinnamon stick and the bay leaves. Either spoon into the sterilized jars and put them in a cool dark place, or keep in the fridge and use right away. In sterilized jars, the chutney should keep for a couple of months.

[Rant of the Week]

In June of 2007 I wrote a post about Bumper Sticker usage and abuse; I would like to offer an update...

The Tinkerbell Sticker


If you happen to find this mark on a car, beware. This is the truest sign of an asshole as I have ever seen. I have never encountered a car with this symbol that contained a clear-thinking, rational, driver. Perhaps the pixie dust infected their brains? I don't care to suffer fools, but I just wanted to offer warning to you, my good readers. If you see a car with Tinkerbell on the road, get away from them as quickly as possible.

If you find your own car befouled by said symbol, do yourself and fellow drivers the greatest of services... First: remove your head from your anus, Second: remove sticker from car, Third: examine how you got to the point were you are paying to advertise someone else's product on your person posessions.

[DIY of the Week]

A Burrito Cannon: Ok, its not very useful, but something fun to do with the kids.


Burrito Blaster on MAKE: television from make magazine on Vimeo.

Reference Document for printing

[Conclusion]

That is all I have this week. I am working on a new feature that I will be bringing into the blog (either as its own feature or as part of this weekly). I am sure it will offend most of you. Until next week!

Love,
Joey

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 01: Issue 08

Hello true be-loggers! Its been a long week and I am sure your fridge has plenty of Sunday Leftovers. This week we will talk about New Years Eve parties, new years resolutions, and whatever else I can cook up. Lets begin.

[New Years Eve]

Over the last few years I have become exhausted with the idea of doing something for New Years Eve. You want to see your friends, but it is really hard to get everyone together and host. Over the years I have:

* Hosted parties at my house: This is nice because you don't have to worry about transportation, but you have to deal with cooking, cleaning, and all the hung over drunks the next day.
* Traveled: I went to Las Vegas for the Millennium New Years. It was the worst trip of my life for so many reasons (which I may write about one day) but for travelers, many attractions are shut down for the holidays and there many people on the move going places which just makes for a miserable experience.
* Organized an event: In 2006, Nate and I rented out a hall, asked everyone to dress in black tie attire and did it up right. It cost me ALOT of money and I never did recoup

This year we went to an all inclusive party hosted by a catering hall. We had a group of friends get tickets and set ourselves up for a nice night with no work, this is what happened: Fear and Loathing when the Ball Drops

Next year Allison and I will go to a nice dinner and have a bottle of scotch at home and let everyone else deal with the madness.

[Resolutions]

Resolutions are a waste of time, do it or don't do it. You don't need a date to tell you when to kick start change. If you are one of those people who want to lose weight and decide to join the gym on January 2nd. Please stay the hell home. You clog up the parking lot and the machines for 60 days of misery for the people who go every day and then like magic you all disappear by March. Save your money and stay away.

Don't assume this means I am telling you not to try something new and make a change in your life, my point is that if you are the type of person that says "I will wait until the new year" I am calling you an asshole because you can start whenever the hell you want.

[Recipe of the Week]

The celebrations are behind us, but if you are still nursing a hangover and employ the "hair of the dog" technique to hangover management, here is a nice drink for you:

The Saint Valentine

What you need:
White rum, Grand Marnier, ruby port, and lime juice.

For each bottle of rum (use a full-flavored white rum such as 10 Cane or Flor de CaƱa), add:

8 oz Grand Marnier

8 oz ruby port

8 oz fresh-squeezed, strained lime juice

To serve, shake well with ice and strain into glasses (about 3 oz per serving).

Enjoy but not too much, we don't want you to have an enlarged liver in 09.

[DIY of the Week]

I subscribe to a few "Do It Yourself (DIY)" websites because honestly, I don't feel like I can do much when it comes to household projects, and I find them interesting and educational. Since the economy is in a downturn, long time DIYers are finding audiences via blogs and youtube. I think it is great, and I want to begin to share the coolest one I see each week. (Even if you don't do them, they are fun and educational to watch).

This week a super-secret Soda Bottle safe



Top Secret Bottle Stash


[Conclusion]

Ok, that's all for this week, I am tapped out of observations. Hope everyone had a good holiday season and I hope 2009 is what you want it to be.

Love,
Joey

Fear and Loathing when the Ball Drops


It was the last day of the year; the wind was wild, angry, and biting with cold. I had spent several hours running errands with a friend in preparation of the evenings festivities. There was a dull haze in everyone that we encountered that day, and I was beginning to become concerned that this New Years celebration might not shine like past events. Perhaps "W's" war on common sense has taken its final toll on the American populous. While I am no fan of the New Years (and growing more weary of it with each passing year), it is a good excuse to watch people get drunk and potentially dismember themselves with large amounts of explosives, I'd be a fool not to look forward to it in some perverse way.

My house-guest had waited as long as possible to get ready and was delousing himself when the taxi service arrived. The cab driver looked like a poor man's John Getz. He quickly informed us that he was the greatest cab driver to ever live. This was line was delivered with as deadly serious a tone as I have ever heard. I immediately wanted to throw him out of the driver's seat and run him over with his "sparkling clean" 12 year old cab. At one point the driver insisted that someone behind us was driving with their high beams on and pulled over and waited for this person to pass. I didn't notice high beams, but I did notice the driver reaching for something under the seat. The faster we got the out of this animal's cab, the better. He half-bragged about sports players doing illegal things in the back of his cabs and how he was a such a good driver he would never say anything. Its hard to drive and pat yourself on the back, but this man was adept at both. I was glad when the drive finally ended.


When we walked into the hall, I noticed I was surrounded by the remaining members of "The Greatest Generation". The mocking grin of the grim reaper met my gaze while waiting to move these poor old bastards along the River Styx. My thoughts were interrupted when the Mongolian appeared from the back area. He had arrived with his entourage a few minutes earlier and already drinking. If you may remember from our previous adventures, inebriation and Mongolians always make for an interesting evening, I was apprehensive to see what would happen.

While there were a few groups of people born after 1970, by 9 PM it became apparent that this evening would be dominated by the walking dead. I meet their confused gazes with grins and glass raising, they soon learned to ignore me except for one woman. While socializing at the bar, an elderly woman struck up conversation which quickly devolved into her wanting to take me home. I couldn't blame her, but I flashed my wedding ban (which I discovered was useful for something) and quickly left with my drinks. As I moved around the hall noticing the elderly guests getting drunker and their mobility becoming more impaired, I felt the need to remove myself from the stink of death.

Many of the key players from the Maryland storywere seated with their wives or dates at the next table. One man had a date that my house guest was familiar with and as the night went on they were spending more time together and her date was spending more time at the bar with me. I started asking some light questions to ensure there wouldn't be a fist fight between the two; there wouldn't - he could have cared less. But he was more concerned with another member of the group popping the question and creating a scene. In the bathroom a man who looked like a cross between a conventional porn star and used car salesmen stared into the mirror saying "you can do it, you can do it". This happened several times that night, the guy spent more time in the bathroom than in the ballroom. As for the object of his affections, I overheard her saying marriage is over-rated as she just ended her second.

I had made an unlikely friend at the hall the week before. His name was Tony and he was the owner of the establishment. Tony is an older man with brown shoe-polish died hair. Tony is old school Italian with a bum leg which he informed me was received for not keeping his cool. He took a liking to me and the Mongolian (mistaking him for a southern Italian, and me correcting that he was from eastern Italy) when we purchased seats the week before. From that point on, he had greeted me with affectionate terms such as "cocksucker" and "mother-fucker". On New Years Eve, Tony made an effort to point us out to the guests. This would prove to be a mistake.

After midnight, all in attendance were gathered together to sing "God Bless America". I must have forgotten the words after grade school and had no desire to fake it, so I left the singing masses and went back to the bar, when I returned the Mongolian and his wife were getting into a heated argument with an elderly woman. Normally I would allow this to continue but we were the visiting team and old people love a show, so I pulled the Mongolian outside to cool down. Tony and one of his goons followed us out. The goon had a crude weapon in his hand that I spotted immediately, but to my relief and surprise, Tony called him off. The old bastard did a good job of calming the enraged Mongolian down and managed to get the offending party to leave. It turns out that the woman said something rude and racist to the Mongolians wife after "God Bless America" and the Mongolian's wife not being a meek woman by any means, laid a verbal smack down. Unfortunately a woman that was sympathetic to my companions walked over to confront the OTHER woman and ended up getting the full force of the Mongolian's anger. This is when I walked over.

A few minutes before the incident the Mongolian drunk dialed the taxi service and they arrived shortly after everyone had settled down. While I was sad that the party ended, I was glad to see the night end without a fist being thrown or a hip being broken. They left without issue, but the minute their cab pulled away the elderly hordes started circling asking me questions. Most of these guys were Italians and I guess I fit the part of someone they could talk to.

My wife called the cab service, and 30 minutes later she got through and we had to wait another 30 minutes for the cab to get there. Waiting at the door for the cab was like a receiving line for the nosy. They all asked, and they all got the same answer, which they accepted happily and went on their way. A younger man with a very tall and very drunk wife came staggering up to the doors and proclaims "I heard there was a cab out front". I told him there wasn't and gave him the number to the service warning him it could take a while. Then he went outside. I knew the bastard was going to try to steal my cab, so I had to wait in the cold and was thinking about ramming his head through the glass doors. My thoughts were interrupted by his wife who drunkenly blasted through the doors and fell down. She started yelping about wanting to go home and he helped her up and got her back inside where my house guest started chatting her up. The distraction worked out for me because the cab pulled up. I told the driver my name and it was indeed my cab, as I got my wife and friend, the snake tried to bribe the driver to take him home instead. While he talked at the drivers side, I loaded my group in the passenger side. This guy kept at it saying we could share a cab, I said sure and when the man left to collect his wife, I told the driver to leave.

The ride home ended with my house guest requesting McDonald's and the driver agreeing enthusiastically (more money for him). This man was much more to our liking and made fun of the previous driver with us. My house guest ordered several items off the midnight menu happily sharing with all as we pulled up to my house. As I watched him stagger through my door as I paid the driver, I wondered how many more years would we go through this ritual and I as I walked though the threshold and I decided it would be the last.