Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ryan Adams: Oh My Sweet Carolina (Abby Road)

( #RyanAdams, #LauraMarling )

Looks like Ryan did a session at Abby Road studios with Laura Marling who he has been very complimentary towards in several interviews. Nice production value.

The Back Window

( #PrettyThings )




CREDIT: The Pretty Things - Come See Me

Monday, November 28, 2011

Putting the X back into Xmas

( #Cybermonday, #Xmas)


Black Friday is over. The masses turned out in record numbers to snag cheap, off-brand televisions, video games, and whatever the new Tickle Me Elmo is for this year. People crammed into stores on Thursday night and of course, there were incidents. It is easy to jump all over a few people acting like animals, because even though we all want deals, we don't want to be this:



These events eventually lead to the discussion of how bad consumerism is and how the CHRIST should be put back into CHRISTmas (I cannot count how many times I have seen this on facebook in the last three days). The history lesson that I am about to break out (again) is not going for a whole “anti-Christianity” soap box moment, I am just trying to make you feel better about buying that flat panel. If there was a Jesus, most scholars (even Christian ones) do not think he was born in December. So if Jesus’ birthday is not on December 25th, then what are we celebrating?

The easy answer is: whatever the hell you want.

Many cultures throughout history had year-end festivals. Most were focused on the winter solstice and the fact that the days would be longer and brighter again. In fact, most historians believe that the Romans, while accepting Christianity, grafted their pagan celebrations and stories into Christian constructs to help ease the assimilation.

Looking at modern times and with our current shitty economy in mind, the whole “black friday” craze is a corrective market action to ensure (mostly retail) stores and business would become profitable for the year. I came across an article a few weeks ago (that I cannot find) that reported most retailers would not like to go to such extreme measures at year end to bring in customers, but consumers are conditioned to shop at the last minute. This is a “chicken and the egg” conversation, but the bottom line is that people are conditioned to shop during Black Friday and the last few weeks of the year; as a result, the stores save some of their best deals until that time.

I am by no means advocating overly-materialistic lifestyle, but I can say with no doubt that people like to get together at the end of the year and give each other gifts and have nice meals. If you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa... it does not matter. All of these “holidays” were pumped up and over promoted for the last 100 years because retailers want you in the stores buying stuff. Knowing all this, I say don’t fight it.

Leverage the sales, the marketing, the time off from work to spend time with the people you love. If the economy has you in a pinch, don’t stress out about it, talk it out and find a better way to spend the pennies you have doing something memorable (it still puts money into the economy and your credit won’t be going nuclear). I like calling the holiday season Xmas because “X” in math is a variable that stands for anything you need it to. For me X = an excuse to have friends and family over for dinner, exchange small gifts, and a nice way to spend a few days off from work.

Friday, November 25, 2011

DME: MacMurray Vineyards

( @zanelamprey, #MacMurray )



Drinking Made Easy has posted another article. This one is about my trip to MacMurray vineyard in California. Check it out:

A Visit to MacMurray Vineyard

Also since the good people at Kress made this article possible, if you are in South Jersey, stop by today and during the holidays to get a nice bottle of wine by good people. You know they are good, I married into their family ;-)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Peanuts Thanksgiving!

( #Peanuts, #Thanksgiving )

Okay, enough of the political jokes, here is a nice way to end it for the day...



Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

A Peanuts Thanksgiving?

( #Peanuts, #Thanksgiving )

Thank you Jimmy Kimmel...

William S. Burroughs: The Thanksgiving Prayer

( #Thanksgiving )

So we are clear, this poem by William S. Burroughs is not nice and friendly. It features harsh terms and general old man cantankerous-ness. Happy Thanksgiving.

Don't Mess the Turkey

( #Thanksgiving, #Turkey )



Credit: Boing Boing

He-man Thanksgiving Float

( #Thanksgiving, #He-Man )

Wow... this would not have made it on local TV today, forget the Macy's parade.



Credit: io9

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mean Joe Article

( #MeanJoe, #Espositos )



Here is a holiday treat Lombardi style. My Mom found this article and scanned it. For those people who are fans of my dad and his "alias" Joe Knit, check this out...

A Family Tradition... A. Esposito Meats

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Occupy A Proper Plan

( #Occupy, #SuperCommittee)



For the last month or so I have been watching the Occupy movement in major cities waiting for it to turn bad. At first, I thought it would last a few days and was hesitantly supportive. It is about time Americans got angry at the state of this country (30 years too late if you ask me). The days turned into weeks and the movement was turning into a late night punch-line. A few weeks ago my wife asked me what I thought about the whole situation and I said “it is going to turn ugly.” She gave me and odd look and asked why...

Why? Because the people in the streets do not have a plan of action. They don't even have the same goal. Going in front of businesses and protesting is not going to accomplish anything. Congratulations! You scared a few stock brokers and they had their sushi delivered...now what? Across the country people are protesting at the doors of corporations. These are the same people who are complaining about not having jobs... that does not make any sense. As the lack of focus and clarity expands, people are getting frustrated and making trouble.

Not big trouble. Little things like throwing feces and being generally disgruntled, but that was enough. The police have been waiting for an opening because they are getting tired of baby-sitting. The city governments also want these people gone ASAP because they are driving up costs. So where did it all go wrong?

The Occupy movement should not have started in New York, it should have started and ended in Washington. People are angry? Stake out congress. Yesterday’s “super-committee” failure should have been the final nail in the coffin. This goes far beyond Democrat vs. Republican, this is about a group of over-privileged, under-educated morons that have bankrupt this country. We let the devils in during Nixon’s reign and never got them out.

Screaming about the lack of jobs? Why aren’t we adjusting our trade regulations to make more domestic products? There should be a 5 year scale back strategy to make more products in America (that would cover the training needed to get plant workers properly educated). Congress will not support trade regulations because our Chinese overlords would be quite pissed.

What about a congressional study about the jobs we are outsourcing overseas? The claim is that we don’t have the right people domestically to do the jobs... for the moment let us assume that is true. The action item should then be to figure out where we are weak and develop high school level courses to train our kids how to do those jobs. Offer tax breaks to companies willing to open domestically and hire these kids (I don’t think you need a college education to work in a call center).

That would create a situation were young Americans can make a modest living without going to college. This opens the colleges back up to the people who should be there and stops it from being a 4 year, $100,000 baby sitting service. In case you are missing the point of this paragraph: NOT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO COLLEGE (the system is broken, you are being robbed). Employers need to stop looking down at trade schools and start supporting and investing in them.

The protesters need to focus on the people who are the most venerable to this form of feedback... the politicians. Washington should be the target, the hotels that the congressmen sleep at during the week should be the targets. Let the swine known that Americans are on to them and it is going to stop. They need to know that their bullshit super-committees, weak spending cuts, and complete inability to develop a strategy is going to cost them their golden tickets and parachutes.

Go home protesters, get your shit together, regroup, and buy bus tickets to Washington.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mumford & Sons: The Enemy

( #Mumford, #WutheringHeights )

Looks like a preview of a new Mumford & Sons song and a new Wuthering Heights movie?

Ryan Adams: Lucky Now

( #RyanAdams, #Luckynow )

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review: Neal Stephenson’s Reamde

( #Reamde, #NealStephenson )



I finally finished the book that would not end yesterday. It has taken me almost 2 months to read Reamde (although I have read other books during this period too), but I got it done. What is the book about? I think this was Stephenson’s attempt to tell an epic fantasy story but in the real world. It is an interesting and creative idea, I am just not sure if that was the intent.

Reamde is part action thriller, detective story, and fantasy tale. The general idea is that a guy (Richard) creates an online game that can be used to traffic real money globally. The game is huge, almost everybody plays it (essentially it is World of Warcraft, but more popular). Richard’s niece ends up getting kidnapped through a series of semi-ridiculous plot turns (I can forgive this in the vein of North by Northwest). The kidnapped niece is basically re-kidnapped by another group of bad guys and then British and US intelligence agencies get involved.

The book features as massive cast of characters that all converge at the end of the book. I suppose my main issue with the story is the sheer amount of characters, many of them were unnecessary and it seems Stephenson doesn’t know what to do with them in the end. There are several that essentially get dropped around the 60-70% mark of the book without another mention. Reamde spends alot of energy getting all of the characters to the same place for the climax. Even with the time spent, it feels completely artificial. Having gotten to the end, I think the book would have been better served killing off some of the characters before we got to that point.

I get the impression the Stephenson was trying to go for a reversal of themes. The story revolves around an epic online game, but the real world becomes much more exciting. I am taking a guess that Stephenson plotted the book out like a video game. You have the main story and the side quests. Minor characters that serve a function and need little backstory. It is a clever idea and if executed better, the book would have been outstanding.

I give Neal Stephenson (and his publishers) kudos for keeping this ONE BOOK. No trilogy, no cliffhangers. It is a complete tale, in fact it is a supersized story. I am glad I could finish this book without having to purchase more and I feel like I earned a gamer trophy getting through it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: The Final Issue

( #SundayLeftovers )



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to the final Sunday Leftovers! You might be wondering why I am ending the series, and the simple answer is that they haven't been good. I can rattle off a list of reasons, but it is a quality issue for me. It started off with a little rant, a picture, some talk about food and ended up picture, recipe, diy, and video. The formula was good to knock out articles, but became less interesting, especially when I pulled the rants out. Writing more rants would be great, but I just don't get pissed off enough to pump something out weekly (unless you want to talk about office templates and contracts).

The other major reason I am doing away with Sunday Leftovers is because of this....

[The Back Window]




CREDIT: Badly Drawn Boy - Something To Talk About

[Reaction]

In case you were wondering, yes that is my kid in full ultrasoundy goodness. This little guy's impending arrival seems to be sapping up my Sunday afternoons with house chores, which cuts into loafing/internet time... which I am not complaining about. I suspect he will be the subject of many blogs over the years, so out with the old and in with the new.

[Recipe of the Week: Bacon Cheeseburger Stromboli]

Since this is the last Sunday Leftovers, I thought I would share my favorite recipe of all time... The Bacon Cheeseburger Stromboli. I could set it all up here, or you can click the link and see it nicely formatted and with video. The post has a how-to on making dough featuring my Mom (who didn't want to be shown on camera, so we made a compromise).

Joey's Recipe Blog: Cheeseburger Stromboli

[DIY of the Week: Cable Management]

If there was one common theme for all of the DIYs is that I hate cables hanging under my desk. I have tried dozens of systems and they all have good and bad points. Here is a DIY on how to store cables properly in honor of my insanity.

Instructables: Toilet Paper Organizer Box

[Video of the Week]



[Conclusion]

So what have we learned over the last three years? I love zombies, Ryan Adams, cooking, and reading. Getting back to the original concept of Sunday Leftovers, I have expectations: for my friends, my family, and my community. I hold myself to high standards and I expect people to do the same for themselves. Is it frustrating? Yes. But the alternative is expecting and accepting bullshit from everyone around you. I don't want to be surrounded by bullshit and I hope you want more for yourself too. What does that mean for this blog? More sanctimonious soap box shouting from me, just in a different format.

If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Movie Review: DVD Catch-up

( #MovieReviews, #TGIF )

On a recent trip to California, I watched a ton of movies on the plane and in the airport. Here is a quick rundown of movies you may have missed and might be interested in seeing.

Bridesmaids



Much has been made about this movie being a raunchy girl comedy. It is. It is a good, raunchy, girl comedy. It has one classic scene that people will probably talk about for years to come. Kristen Wiig did a great job and it is totally worth watching (Wilson-Philips cameo aside).

Horrible Bosses



The first of two Jason Bateman movies I am reviewing. Basically this movie is loaded with people I enjoy watching, but the plot is obviously not rooted in reality. The movie starts off funny with the lead's bosses doing various things to make life horrible for our heroes. Then we end up in the ghetto looking for a hitman and the movie goes to shit (literally with dental floss...). Jennifer Aniston was pretty damn funny as the sexually inappropriate boss.

The Change-Up



The other Jason Bateman movie I came across. This one also stars Ryan Reynolds and Leslie Mann. This movie has LOTS of naked women and poop jokes. The best parts of the movie are Bateman (as Reynolds) interacting with his fake kids. The movie has typical "challenges" and there are absolutely no plot turns that will surprise you (outside of poop).

Bad Teacher



This movie was hilarious. Cameron Diaz redeems herself after a horrible string of movies. Good mix of school humor, drug humor, and sex humor. I had very low expectations going into this and I was pleasantly surprised.

Take Me Home Tonight



A Topher Grace movie that plays homage to 80's movies. It involves a house party, a hot girl, a crazy fat friend, and cocaine. Typical speech about "what I learned from this night" at the end. Another movie that has a cast full of people that I like. It wasn't a great flick, but I didn't mind watching it on the plane.

Super 8



I feel like this movie went under everyone's radar (including mine). Super 8 is about a small town that plays host to an alien and a bunch of kids that figure it out. It is a more mature E.T. - the military are the bad guys, the alien is a little scary, some people actually die, so maybe not a movie for small children, but it a good one to watch for the PG-13 crowd.

So that is my movie catch-up, I never usually watch that many movies because I can't sit still at home, but when stuck in airports with delays, there are worse ways to spend time. I hope my recommendations save you some time and hopefully you enjoy the movies.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

DME: Brewer Interview

( @victorybeer, #zanelamprey )



A few weeks ago, I did a story about Victory's new beer Dark Intrigue. Victory was kind enough to set me up with Jordan Sunseri, one of their brewers. I ended up having enough material to split the conversation into two separate stories. Drinking Made Easy just published the second part. Check it out...

Drinking Made Easy: A Chat with Jordan Sunseri

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Movie Review: The Rum Diary

( #HunterSThompson, #RumDiary )



If you read this blog (or look on the left panel for “Gonzo Stories”), you could tell pretty quickly that I am a Hunter S. Thompson fan. Outside of his epic drinking and drug abuses, he was a man that understood the fine line between a news article and a story and then he pissed all over it. I read the Rum Diary 5 or 6 years ago and enjoyed it. Hunter had yet to discover the Gonzo form of journalism he made famous, but this book (and Thompson’s alter-ego “Paul Kemp”) was clearly a proto-form of his later style.

All that being said, Johnny Depp does an excellent job of creating a coherent storyline out of a book that does not really have one. All the characters are there, but in the book version, Thompson zones in on the drinking, the hangovers, the parties, and the sweating. It was less about the story and more about feeling what was happening. In the movie version, Depp cleans up the story and makes the antagonists more clear.

The movie also does a great job of explaining Kemp’s dealings with the real estate holdings group and his involvement with Sanderson. In the book, Thompson seemed more focused on screwing Sanderson’s girlfriend, the movie makes the whole situation more layered (and makes Thompson seem a little more gentlemanly). Johnny Depp does not do a balls out Hunter Thompson impression like he did in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but as I said, Thompson was not Gonzo yet. Depp does a very good job at playing a twenty-something Thompson, not once did I think “hey this guy is almost 50.” The standout performance of the movie might have to go to Giovanni Ribisi’s portrayal of Moburg. Ribisi taps into the classic frantic Thompson energy and of anyone, he is the one paying homage to Dr. Gonzo.

I really liked this movie, but I give the warning that it is not for everyone. As the title might indicate, it is about a guy who gets drunk, not in a fun “Arthur” kind of way. It is essentially the story of how Hunter S. Thompson found his writing voice and got really messed up along the way. As Thompson once said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Book Review: The Night Eternal (Strain Trilogy)

( #StrainTrilogy, #vampires )



The Night Eternal is the final book in a vampire trilogy by author Chuck Hogan and director Guillermo Del Toro. You would think Vampires and Del Toro would equal awesome, not so much. The first book was decent but got into Jerry Bruckheimer territory towards the end (explosions, catch phrases, etc). The second book just kept the Bruckheimer vibe going. I was undecided on reading the third book, but I find that trilogies tend to sag in the middle to justify three books and the third usually ends strong. That theory was proven wrong with the Night Eternal.

The book is all over the place. Even at 250ish pages, it seems long and drawn out. Hogan introduces characters that are completely unnecessary to the plot and then discards them with little detail or interest (several members of the Hispanic gangs). Had more of the interesting characters from the second book (like the Lucha Libre wrestler - I know it is odd, but it worked) remained alive, there would have been better emotional payoff in the final book. The book also suffers from the passage of time. Two years has passed since the end of the second book and Hogan has to show the psychological damage the characters have endured during that time. The main character as a broken man searching for redemption is such a cliche it needs a new word to describe it.

The Night Eternal introduces a whole religious element to the origins of the vampires which started off interesting but quickly became... a bit of a mess. Hogan and Del Toro do such a convincing job of stacking the odds against the humans, the only way for them to win is to get God involved at a few key moments. I would not have an issue if there was a clear connection to Christian beliefs made in the previous books, this “revelation” comes out of left field and makes me think the authors didn’t have an exit strategy for the book.

Once again, my beef with trilogies is at the root of my issues with this book. If this idea was contained in one book, it would have been awesome. Instead, it was watered down into three, packed with filler that just detracts from what could have been a fun read in the vein of World War Z, instead it is a failure and makes me feel like a dumbass for buying three books (two of which I didn’t like).

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 51

( #SundayLeftovers )



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! I guess it is a good time to announce that next week's Sunday Leftovers will be the last for a while. Next week is the end of volume 3 and I think it is a good time to end it. I will continue to feature some of the sections like the recipes and back window during the week. I will probably do a few more videos as well. I hope this leads to more content and ideas, not less. The blog will still be here and I plan on doing more writing, but I just felt it was time for a change. With that being said, lets open the fridge and see what is leftover...

[The Back Window]




CREDIT: Neil Finn - King Tide

[Recipe of the Week: Jerk Ham]

INGREDIENTS:

For poaching
1 (5 kg) leg ham
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorn
1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
6 scotch bonnet chilies, halved
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch thyme
1 cinnamon stick

Jerk Marinade
6 fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons allspice
1 tablespoon clove
2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
8 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
8 scotch bonnet chilies, stalks removed
1 1/16 cup dark rum
1 1/16 cup malt vinegar
1 small bunch thyme, leaves picked

Glaze
3/4 jar fine cut marmalade
5/8 cup golden rum

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the ham in a large roasting pan with all of the poaching ingredients. Add water until it comes halfway up the side of the pan. Cover the ham with tinfoil ( making a tent over the ham to allow the steam to circulate).
2. Bake for two hours or until pink and cooked through, remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes, remaining covered.
3. While your ham poaches add the bay leaves and the dry spices to a food processor with the garlic cloves. Whizz it to form a paste then add the onions and chillies and whizz again.Pour in the rum and malt vinegar and keep whizzing while adding the thyme. Once it has a nice loose consistency the marinade is ready.
4. When the ham has had it's 30 mins out of the oven, transfer it to a roasting tray and let it cool down a bit. While it's still warm, put your hand underneath the skin and gently pull it away from the meat, leaving a bit of the fat underneath attached. Then with a sharp knife, score the ham by lightly making diagonal cuts across the leg.
5. Spoon the marinade over the pork (using the back of a spoon,it's hot stuff!) and into the scored fat. If you want to use your hands to rub it in PLEASE wear gloves!
6. You can cover the ham with cling film and chill it overnight if you wish, or cook right away.
7. Pour a small glass of water into the bottom of the roasting tray and put the ham into the preheated oven for 2 hours (350/180 degrees). Try to baste it every 30 mins or so to get it good and dark.
8. After the two hours are up, scrape a bit of the marinade off with a spatula ans spoon about 3/4 jar of marmalade over it and a good swig of rum on top. Smear this mixture all over the ham and let it drip down the sides too. Spoon the juices off the bottom of the pan back over the ham and put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes, basting every 5-7 minutes to build up the crust.
9. When it's lovely and dark, it's done.

[DIY of the Week: Sound Absorbing Panels]

I was talking about this a few weeks ago with a drummer friend, and now I see this on the internet...
Acoustic Freqs: Sound Panels

[Video of the Week]



[Conclusion]

Thanks for reading. I plan on doing a little retrospective next week and there will be a big announcement. If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

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