29 January 2016

I Went There: Park City / Sundance Opening Weekend

Leave the Lights On, Plz
(One in an occasional series.)

Took my talents to Park City for the opening weekend of the Sundance Film Festival. It was quite a spectacle.

Skiing in general, and Park City in particular, is one of the richest/whitest things you can do. You might see the occasional non-white person, but they are few and far between. You will definitely see a lot of rich people, because the whole town is crazy expensive. I was there as a guest of a friend, which is the only way I could justify the expense.

It was fun to get out there and rub elbows / share restaurant space with Jon Hamm and his ilk but Sundance weekend is a bust in terms of social opportunity. There were many beautiful people there but none of them were single. Unlike Vegas or Miami or most any other vacation destination there are virtually no single women in the whole town, because it's just too damn expensive for them to pay their own way. Instead every woman there is a guest or friend or date of another guy, so even if you see someone walking out on Main street or at dinner or out on the ski slopes you can bet that their dude(s) is(are) not far behind. I can meet more girls in a wack bar in Plano, Texas in 10 minutes than in four days/nights in Park City. (More on that in a future post.)

The people-watching in Park City is next level, though. It's a big scene, so the famous people come out and the people that like to take their pictures come out and the people that like to drink free beer and get free stuff and hang out and people watch (i.e. me) come out and it's a pretty good time, if that's your thing. Plus it snowed, which made for awesome pictures and fun goofing around for the fat kid. It's the little things.

25 January 2016

To the Rescue: All the Hugs

Can I Get A Little Help Here?
In more animal news we have this adorable sloth who got stuck crossing the road and was rescued by some very nice police officers in Ecuador. Go to Jalopnik for additional (super cute) photos.

Animal News: Dog Decides to Run A Half Marathon, Is Pretty Chill About It

Ludivine is a good name for a great doggie. She lives in a small town where you can let your dog go do whatever it wants, which in this case is to go run a half marathon and hang out with some people, then come home later. (This is probably the best reason I have yet heard to live in rural Alabama.)

This photo of her at the start of the race is the best. Look how happy she is! This is a very happy doggie. We should all be so happy. Also this anecdote from the article posted over on Runners World indicates that although she was very happy to run the race she also had time to enjoy the little things:

When Ludivine stopped to investigate a dead rabbit around the 2-mile mark [Ed., as you do], Horvath caught back up with her. 

What a majestic and glorious beast! The world needs more dogs like this. Congratulations Ludivine on your big day at the race. I hope that you continue to enjoy every day with the same enthusiasm. You are a great doggie with a good owner.

21 January 2016

We Always Want More

Finished a re-read of a Culture novel over the weekend. I'm a big fan of the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks and will post a review of the book here when time permits, but for now here is a quote from Look to Windward, which I originally posted in 2013:

We always want more, he thought, we always take our past successes for granted and assume they but point the way to future triumphs. But the universe does not have our own best interests at heart, and to assume for a moment that it does, ever did or ever might is to make the most calamitous and hubristic of mistakes.

In my opinion Look to Windward was not one of the better Culture novels. YMMV.

19 January 2016

Update: Local Wildlife on the Porchalcony

Barry the Boss Bird on the Right
I've written some words about the happenings on the porchalcony before. Barry the Boss Bird is boss, and he runs shit.

Things have changed a bit since the last update. There are now too many hungry birds for Barry to hustle off the feeder. He is still just as angry as ever, but now he has to share, and he's not happy about it. Where his swoop and poop technique used to hustle off the interlopers they now just give him some side eye and keep on feeding. Or at least not flying away, which makes him salty.

He's working through it, as you do. If a bird refuses to shove off then Barry lands on the feeder and gives them a very hard look to let them know that he is still the Boss. Not bad for a creature that weighs about as much as a nickel.

Now that there are so many birds on the feeder over the course of the day I have to fill it all the time. Like, all the damn time. Used to be I would fill it about once a week. Now it is empty every other day, and this in the middle of our 'winter', so it's not evaporation as much as it is a nexus of super hangry (hungry + angry) birds.

Happy birding!

18 January 2016

Glenn Frey

I guess we're just going to write music obituaries for a couple weeks. Glenn Frey died over the weekend. He lived a full and rich life and, if the official Eagles documentary is any guide, he was also an egomaniac/asshole. Can we appreciate the art even if we don't much care for the artist? Hell yeah. 

Glenn Frey hadn't made any music worth a listen in 30 years but the work he did in his golden age has stood (and will stand) the test of time. I'm not a fan of the Eagles deep cuts (because they're shit) and Frey's solo work has NOT held up but: credit where credit is due - the hits are HITS, creating album sales and cultural impact the likes of which Justin Bieber or T. Swift would kill for. The Eagles at their peak were as good as any band has ever been. Yeah I said it.

Put it this way: I know all the words to several of their songs and I have never bought an Eagles record, an Eagles single, or any soundtrack or whatever that had an Eagles song on it, nor downloaded any of their music for free from napster when that was a thing. It just soaked into my brain because I was born in the 70's and my mom liked to listen to the radio. Thank christ she didn't like disco.

Too many classics to list here. My favorite Eagles song isn't even sung by Frey (though he does share writing credit), so I posted the first one I ever learned the words to, by listening to AM radio in my mom's 1974 VW Beetle. See you on the flip side, Glenn.

11 January 2016


David Bowie was not on my list of favorite artists. I never felt a connection (however tenuous or silly) to his music, and I was never much swayed by the ahead-of-his-time commercialism and re-invention. That said, he did deliver some classics. This is my favorite, because it has been destroying dance floors since it landed on 15 February 1974 (just a few days before another auspicious arrival). Hell. Yeah. 

David Bowie died yesterday at the age of 69. 

10 January 2016

Just Play the Hits: Bieber Sets a Record (HONK!)

Big Cheese sends this update about Justin Bieber and the UK music charts:

Justin Bieber has pulled off another chart coup by occupying the number one, two and three spots with his songs - a feat never accomplished before. 

I'm not ashamed to say that I have enjoyed Sorry and Love Yourself quite a lot. Yeah Bieber is a repugnant toad. So are a lot of artists. A hot jam delivered by a titanic asshole is still a hot jam. (John Lennon used to beat his wife, is what I'm saying.)

The reggaeton beat in Sorry is an irresistible dance floor destroyer. Biebs' producers deserve to get paid. Eventually the guy will fade into irrelevance, or maybe he will go supernova and die prematurely (don't rule it out - the guy likes to party), but for now we can add some new jams to his future Greatest Hits collection. Judge if you must - I'll be over here getting my dance on.

05 January 2016

Read It: Jack Glass by Adam Roberts

After finally finishing a very long but very good book (more on that later) I treated myself to some lighter reading. Nothing like a good old fashioned murder mystery wrapped in a space opera to give the brain a rest. Aside from having an excellent cover design (it's better in person) it was a very good, easy read. I ended up finishing it over the course of a Sunday, and very much enjoyed doing so. I look forward to reading it again.

Highly recommended. It's been out for a couple years so you can find used copies for cheap. And as always: you can borrow mine if you want.

04 January 2016

What's Good?

Welcome to 2016! It's been a busy year so far but not much to report in the way of humorous anecdotes aside from this one: made a rare (for me) visit to the bars over the weekend with some of my peeps. Ran into some local barfly type of girls, as you do, so we chatted with them for a bit (as one does).

The talk turned to recreational drug use, as it sometimes does when talking to that kind of girl in that kind of bar, and one of the girls looked at me and said, "You don't look like somebody that does drugs - you look like somebody that does [thinks about it for a second] protein."

I'm not even sure what that means, but I laughed. And besides: she's not wrong. In the end they had to look elsewhere to find what they were looking for. I give them credit for being honest about it.

31 December 2015

Happy New Year!

Hello reader! Thanks for stopping by in 2015. I hope you have an excellent 2016.

Here is a video with a cat and a nephew and a 'sad companion' and a big pillar of fire. It is excellent.

28 December 2015

Not Bad, Not Bad at All

Courtesy Ruby's Dad (best pups) here is another pasty Irish ginger* doing some work in the kitchen. Another = another one besides me. That thing Bill Burr cannot identify is a pastry cutter.

If you were wondering what it looks like in my kitchen then imagine something a lot like this: a similar generous application of the f-word, but with more hair. And less crisco. 100% butter crusts or I don't know you.

* "pasty Irish ginger" is possibly redundant. The Irish are an island people but they are not a tropical people.

27 December 2015

Let Your Nerd Flag Fly

This was better than I would have ever expected. That Amsterdam flag is cool as hell. I want one. Most of the American city flags, not so much.

Design-by-committee is the worst. A camel is a horse designed by committee. Failure everywhere.

Two Friends are Boss

I'm pretty sure I have posted some sweet, sweet jams from Two Friends earlier on teh blogspace. These are some good-ass jams! Get down with these jams! This is some instant party shit right here. Cue that up for your New Year's Eve extravaganza. Or put it on when you have to clean up around the house. Same thing, pretty much.

25 December 2015

Dammit, Pie

Before the Issues
Happy Christmas! Me and Barry the Boss Bird are hanging out today before we do our Christmas Activities.

I made a pumpkin pie for Christmas day dessert. Didn't go well. First I couldn't get the right cookies for the crust. Hrrmph. No bigs I will work around it.

The crust started out promisingly but then it got weird (LIKE A RELATIONSHIP, AMIRITE? HONK). Blurgh. Okay whatever I can fix it. Let's make the filling.

Made the filling and I have wayyyy too much. Like, a whole extra pie worth of filling. Maybe make a second, backup pie? But I only have one pie pan. BLURGH.

Put pie filling in the pie, put in oven. :: forgets to turn off convection function, pie cooks extremely quickly :: Ugh EFF EM ELL. So the pie and I are at odds. Life goes on. In the mean time there are sweet pump-up jams and I am going to make egg nog. Can't mess that up, right? Good lord let's hope not.

22 December 2015

Log de Noel, Made Fresh

Plural of Fungus is Fungi
Here is a thing that I made in a baking class. I rate it okay. As these things go (things = "frosted cakes made from scratch with two types of buttercream frosting and meringue decorations") it is good I guess. Very alright. Above average, most likely. Not my cup of tea but if you like frosted cakes then you would probably like this. They are a chore to make so I was glad to be able to make it in someone else's kitchen space.

Officially it's called a 'buche de noel', and there are supposed to be some accent marks in there somewhere but I cannot remember where they go. It is a yellow sheet cake with frosting on it (amaretto buttercream frosting, in this case) rolled up in a spiral with more frosting on the outside (chocolate buttercream).

I enjoyed making the remarkably realistic looking meringue fungus to go on the cake. That shit looks real as hell! It tastes good if you like meringue. I stuck some chocolate stuff on there to give it some additional texture but the end result is only adequate. Not much for cake decorating over here; it requires an artistic skill and interest that I do not possess.

Anyway, if you want some tips on how to make a (pain in the ass, pretty-good-I-guess-if-you're-into-that-sort-of-thing) traditional holiday cake, I got you covered. Hit me up.

19 December 2015

Force: Awakened

I wrote some words about the new Star Wars movie back when the trailer came out. If you care to review them you can do so at your leisure. The important thing to know is that the new movie is really good! It goes a very, very long way towards pushing the awfulness of the last three movies into the rearview mirror.

In the fullness of time no one will remember the prequels, as they were not only bad when they came out but they have gotten worse with age. George Lucas is a porkchop clown disguised as an overgrown ewok.

Best thing about the new movie is Rey. Strong female leads FTW! The actor is believable and her character is the opposite of the typical Disney princess-in-distress trope. This is a promising development.

Worst thing is General Leia. Carrie Fisher has spent the last 40 years stoned to the gills on whatever combination of drugs she needs to get through the day and it SHOWS. It's not that she is old, it's that she is barely sentient. BB-8 enunciates his lines more clearly.

Anyway, it was a fun movie. Go see it.

Make Treats

Today I made 7 layer bars and also some fudge. Both things are very easy to make, although wrangling the fudge out of a big pot into the 9x9 pan for cooling is a challenge. It needs three hands because the pot is heavy and you can't hold and scoop. Since you have to candy sugar to make the fudge the pot is also very hot. I wedged it against my Surgery Baby and was able to mostly get it out of there.

Editorial Aside: As someone who regularly handles supposedly dangerous objects (i.e. firearms) without incident I make a special note to identify things that are truly, legitimately dangerous. I never fry food at home so the two most dangerous things in my house are the Cuisinart blade and candying sugar. I am as aggressively vigilant about safety around those things as I am about gun safety. Moreover, I'm not at all uncomfortable handling guns, but candying sugar makes me juuuuuuust a little big anxious. That shit is No Joke.

The Surgery Baby is the gut I developed after not being able to get as much exercise as I would like in the months following surgery. It is definitely not superb, but I'm middle aged so there's not much I can do about it in the short term. Good news is I'm back at the gym now, but my exercise program is restricted. Some stuff I can get back to doing eventually, but some stuff is off limits forever. Lifting weights? Okay, with limits. Walking or biking or swimming? All recommended. Running? Not so much. Not much fussed about it since I have never been much of a runner, but it is still kind of weird for someone to say, "Your running days are over." I'll have to find other ways to supplement my treat habits.