Saturday, November 7, 2009


It's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to its friends) again and I'm jumping on the bandwagon again this year. It has only been a few days, but I'm keeping up. If you don't know, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days- that's 1,667 words per day. There is a strategy involved, to make it easier, which you can find in the book "No Plot? No Problem!" by Chris Baty (the founder of National Novel Writing Month).
By the way, I've done this before, successfully- and by that I mean that I got the word count, but the novel I wrote is utter crap. Just a few days into the latest novel and I can say without hesitation that the new one is crap too. However, I will also say that this one is less crappy then the earlier one. Maybe in ten years, or ten more novels, I'll be writing the greatest novel ever, but I doubt it.
Anyway, the process is fun and I think I'm learning a lot. If you've got access to my Twitter feed (which should be somewhere on this blog page), you can keep up with my current word count this month.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the anti-"jump the shark"

There really needs to be a phrase that's the opposite of "jump the shark".

"Jump the shark", if you don't know, is when something happens that causes you to realize things are never going to be as good as they used to. The opposite would be when be when something happens on a series that makes the series dramatically better.

When Michael Emerson joined Lost, it crystalized and clarified the drama, he gave the show something it needed. At that point, Lost stopped being a rambling drama that didn't seem to be going anywhere. Suddenly, the "Others" stopped being strange weirdos and started being interesting. The "Others" even started dressing better.

In the seventh episode of Fringe, they introduced David Robert Jones (played by Jared Harris). Up until this point, they were vague about something called "The Pattern". It really felt as if the writers didn't have any more idea what was happening then the viewers. The enemy had a face. The writers weren't wandering aimlessly from incident to incident, they had a focal point, a direction. The episodes became markedly better written. The characters were actually striving for something.

The reason that I'm bringing all this up is this- I've just watched the first season of "Lie to me" and I really like the show, but I really think that they need to have a Michael Emerson or David Robert Jones. I really like "Lie to me", but Tim Roth's Dr. Cal Lightman hasn't really found a match- the Joker to his Batman. Somebody to battle through the show's future seasons. I just hope that they don't do a "House" like thing and make his enemy a bureaucrat that battles over petty crud- "Fringe" tried that with Michael Gaston's Sanford Harris and it was utter crap. Nobody ever wants the enemy to be red tape or bureaucracy - unless it's a comedy.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Do you really want it?

I was rolling the question "Do you really want it?" around in my head this morning. There wasn't anything that I really wanted at the time, that wasn't the point. I was thinking about how wonderful spoken English is. Every time that I rolled the question around, I emphasized a different word- and that changed the context completely.

Let me show you what I mean (the capitalized letters represent the word that is accented):

"DO you really want it?" - I question if you want it.

"Do YOU really want it?" - I think that you are acting on the behalf of somebody else.

"Do you REALLY want it?" - I don't think you want it enough to do what it takes.

"Do you really WANT it?" - It isn't something that you should want- like a monkey's paw.

"Do you really want IT?" - I think you really want something else, you just aren't saying what.

Yeah, I know, there are thousands more interpretations that can be inferred - context would help, but that's not my point. My point is that spoken language can be pretty cool.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Porn 'Stache

I had a horrible slip when trimming my beard this morning- in the end I had to trim around the screw up. Now I'm trying to decide whether I want to cut everything off or just start growing the beard out again. Heck, I may even keep the mustache...but I doubt my dearly beloved will agree with that (she hasn't seen it yet).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tomatoes: Fruit or Vegetable

The culinary world says, "Fruit!"
The U.S. Tariff codes say, "Vegetable!"
The botanical elite say, "Ovary."
Tomayto, Tomahto - I don't care, I just grows 'em and eats 'em.

Here's a picture of yesterday's crop from my backyard

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rocket Fizz

From Some Psychotic Ramblings

On Sunday I noticed a new store had opened up in my neighborhood - Rocket Fizz! They sell classic candies, soda pop and faux vintage tin signs.

Once per blue moon, if not less often, I head down to Eagle Rock (about twenty minutes away) to go to Galco's Soda Pop Shop. I'll pick up thirty to forty different sodas, and cart them back home to sample over the next months. Seeing a new soda store so close to my house set my heart a flutter. Yippee!

First the good - Rocket Fizz has a great selection of sodas. I think that Galco's may have more, but there were enough new drinks for me to try that I was quite happy. Also, they had many classic sodas that I've enjoyed over the years, staples for my soda lifestyle. Even better then the soda selection was the candy selection- Whoa- all of the greats were here, Zotz, Pop Rocks, Abbazabba, Chuckles. Enough variety that I could add another hundred pounds to my girth without repeating a single one. I'll be making as many trips to this place as my dearly beloved will allow (remember, I am supposed to be getting trimmer- she's my food cop, and she tries to keep me honest - I have no will power except for hers).

Now the bad - Rocket Fizz isn't really set up for buying more then a couple of six packs of soda. Galco's does it right, with the shopping carts and huge boxes. This is really too much of a slight to Rocket Fizz, I don't think that they meant for it to be a place you go for stocking up for the summer (or winter) - they want you to visit far more often then that. In the future, I'll be hitting Rocket Fizz for my personal use, but I'll still want to hit up Galco's when I want to stock up for a party, or buy bulk in a new ginger ale or something.

And, in the something else category - Galco's prices are all over the place, some sodas are as cheap as 90 cents and some are downright expensive ($3 and up). All of the sodas at Rocket Fizz are priced at $1.89 each. If you know which sodas are expensive, you can save a lot of money at Rocket Fizz, but if you don't know that the soda you are picking up can be bought on the cheap at Vallarta or Vons, then you could be paying a lot more then you need to. Buyer beware and all that rot.

Rocket Fizz
2112 Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91506
(818) 846-7632

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Game Update

I just wanted to keep you up to date on where I am on my video game completion list- I've installed The Orange Box on my PC. For those that don't know, this means that I'll be playing through Half-Life 2 (plus the first couple of "episodes" associated with Half-Life 2).

As far as consoles go- I've played quite a bit of the PS3 Ratchet & Clank game- it's a fun game that I enjoy playing, but I can see why I stopped playing it on the first go-round. The game play is very repetitive and generic. You really just jump around and shoot things- every enemy has a pattern used to destroy it, and once you've figured out that pattern, you just repeat it over and over and over again until all of that enemy type are destroyed. I've stopped thinking of the enemies as separate villains and started to consider them by the specific moves needed to eliminate them quickly. Is this a problem? Not really, but I think that I would have enjoyed this a lot more if I were younger. I guess I'm just too old.

Monday, June 8, 2009


I'm a bit of a video gamer- but I never finish anything, boredom always sets in at some point. This past weekend, I decided that I want to actually finish what I've got rather then move on to other games- I give it a week, I've little patience for something that should be fun. The moment a game isn't fun, I'll ditch it at the used video game store.

First up on my pile of games- Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. The reason I didn't finish it the first time was that the game's combat sequences were really annoying- of the "We limit your ammo" type. Constantly shooting five or six shots into the same few pirate models stops being fun very quickly. On this run through I've gotten achievements for killing a nation's worth of pirates, and more still seem to pop up. I'm getting better at shooting them in the head, which is the only way to lessen ammo worries. Shooting them in the belly or genitals seems to have very little effect. I guess pirates are like zombies- only real way to kill them is the brain. How grisly.

Next up on my game pile is going to be Half-Life 2, which I stopped when my computer died, and never installed on my new machine and then...Bioshock- which I stopped because the atmosphere was getting me down, even though I liked the game play.

I'll let you know how things go.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Twilight - my thought on this fine franchise

100 year old guy dates underage girl...I think that's called statutory rape.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Relishing the Dogs of Summer, part 2

I have been met with disgust and derision over my last post, "Relishing the Dogs of Summer". My response is my final word on the subject.

I put ketchup on my hot dogs, deal with it! It's not like I'm forcing you to do the same.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Relishing the Dogs of Summer

When I was eight, I had a horrible hot dog experience. It was at the British Club in Singapore. The hot dog was made with a British sausage instead of the processed meat product that I was accustomed to. The casing was completely burnt. American hot dogs didn't have a casing, even then, so I was already suspicious- but burning made matters even worse. I bit into the dog anyway. The casing was difficult enough to get through, what I found inside was even worse- my teeth had chomped down on some gristle that I couldn't chew through. Unfortunately, we were guests of some important person or other, so my mother made me finish the hot dog and actually thank them for the experience. That "hot dog" was so bad that the next one I ate was nine years later- and I had to cover it with chili in order to make it palatable.

Cut to now- somewhere in my life I turned a corner- I put the past behind me, where it belongs. At some point in my early thirties, probably at Pink's, I actually started to enjoy hot dogs and associate them with summer. Don't get me wrong, I'm still picky about my hot dog. I don't take many chances.

I bought some kosher dogs (hebrew national, of course) and I've just finished off the last in the pack today. Through the past week of these "dog days" of summer (sorry), I've been experimenting with different condiments- to decide which will be "My Hot Dog". First, the mustards. I started with French's Classic Yellow, which is fine, if a little mainstream. My second contender was Dave's Hurtin' Habanero & Honey Mustard - which has it's place in my world, but I decided wasn't hot dogs. The third, and final, choice turned out to be the winner - Zatarain's Creole Mustard. I has a taste and texture that works well for me. The vinegar accent was an especially welcome finisher for me.

The next decision was the relish- Vlassic's Sweet Relish, a favorite of mine for sandwiches, versus Bubbies Kosher Dill Relish. I have to say that I was trying either while I was trying mustards. I think that the Vlassic worked badly with Dave's Hurtin' Habenero because the double sweetness was a little too much for me. The Vlassic was fine when paired with French's - but was in direct competition with the Creole Mustard. Bubbies' Kosher Dill Relish, on the other hand, worked well with all three mustards. The fact that it was savory meant that it didn't make the dog too sweet with the Habenero, and it worked hand in hand with the Creole mustard...

So the grand winner for my home prepared dog- Zatarain's Creole Mustard, Bubbies Kosher Dill Relish and Organic's Tomato Ketchup (which is the winning ketchup only because it says "Organic" on it- which really brings something different to the table when you are talking hot dogs).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Name is Bob and I have a problem.

I'm scared that my current addiction will catch up with me this summer.

Over the last year I started to watch current television shows. It started with dvd collections of past tv shows. I was safe when I stuck with shows that had ended. I loved it. Serialized shows became a minor addiction to me. During a single week I watched character and story arcs that had taken years in their original run. Movies that only took 90 minutes could no longer satisfy my needs with their puny character development. I was hooked.

Over the course of months, I found myself cruising Amazon for my next hit. I was jonesing bad for a new experience. Amazon taunted me with a sale. The first three seasons of Lost were bundled together. Curiosity and the monkey on my back forced me to click the taunting "Add to Shopping Cart". Amazon Prime rushed me my fix in the next couple of days. That's when I was screwed. I was mainlining a current tv show...and Lost, in my opinion, is one of the greatest. Soon I was buying other current shows like Eureka, Burn Notice, and Heroes. I caught up to shows just before the new episodes started to come out last season. That's when I became a slave to my DVR- and not just to those shows, but to new shows with a tenuous link to shows that I'd enjoyed. I loved Lost, so Fringe was a natural leap. Buffy and Angel were gateway shows to Dollhouse.

This week has brought with it a sick dread. Fringe and Lost are going into hibernation (or is it remission? I don't know the term for when shows go into reruns). Luckily, I easily kicked the Heroes habit quickly, so that is one less problem. But I'm scared. I haven't built up a tolerance to summer reruns that others might, I haven't been much for tv shows since high school. I don't know how I'm going to handle it. I have a feeling that I'll soon be trolling the TV Series aisle of Fry's looking for my next fix or checking Hulu for shows I might have missed. I just hope that I'm not shivering in a dark corner watching old procedurals on USA, waiting for new episodes of the shows that I miss. God help me if I get so bad that I start watching sports.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Of Fringe and Dollhouse

I started watching the shows Fringe and Dollhouse out of some kind of obligation for the creators. I've enjoyed their past shows, so I felt that I had to watch the new. I hated both shows at the beginning, neither had characters that I enjoyed - and for me, characters are paramount.

I've been watching them religiously, out of some strange misplaced faith- and for a while I started to lose my religion. Lucky for me, Fringe got better. They started to add more emotional contact through new supporting family members. Characters started to become emotionally involved in story lines. The long term plot started advancing too, which was nice. Fringe has become a treat that I look forward to- and I'm glad they are back from their mid season break.

Now on to Dollhouse. So far, there isn't a single character on Dollhouse that I give a damn about. The long term story isn't grabbing me. I don't give a damn about the mysterious Alpha, the dolls, or anybody else. Sadly, I've been watching it so long that Stockholm Syndrome has been setting in. I'm starting to feel sorry for the show. I really want it to be better for its own sake. I want to say, "Come on little buddy, you can do better. You can create something that actually reaches out on an emotional level. Keep trying slugger."

It took a while for Fringe to grab me. I hope Dollhouse will too.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The economy and Vegas

Sorry about punctuation and such- blogging on the road using the iPhone.

The economy has been sucking for most people, but nowhere shows it better then America's playground - Vegas. Last season there were a lot layoffs here- makes sense, layoffs are everywhere. But it's the trickle down effect. People that are worried about money are hardly going to blow a grand on a weekend. Restaurants that have been around for years have shut their doors forever. Most places that are still open are only open five days a week. Hotel stores that used to be open all day, every day now spend as many hours closed as open. Vegas has been struggling as much as anywhere else I've seen, more so then some. I really feel sorry for what some of the people I know here have been going through.

There does seem to be a light at the end of this tunnel though. It's a Sunday night and Vegas seems busier then it has been on my last couple of visits. The restaurant I had dinner in had as much business as I'd ever seen in there. People may not be spending massive amounts of money yet, but at least they are showing up. Maybe things will be back to their wild and craziest soon. I certainly hope so.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Watchmen A.R.G.

Just played around with the small A.R.G. associated with the Watchmen film- -

The premise of the site is that Rorshach shows you tests and you enter what you think you see. Correct answers will unlock clips that tell you about the characters from the film. I went through the usual answers that were expected (I won't spoil it here- there are other places to go for that kind of info), but I got stuck on the final one and had to look it up. Now comes the fun- I've seen the site as it was intended, so now comes entering random things to get unexpected responses. I went with "Dog" first, because I've read the graphic novel, and got a good response. I tried several others, but responses weren't all that great. On a tip from a forum post I found, I went with "Alan Moore"- the response was great. If you want to know what was said, you can try it for yourself.

All in all, I found it to be a fun little A.R.G for ten minutes.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Back when the clock struck midnight and this year was rung in, I made a list of resolutions (something I'd resolved never to do in earlier life- but what the hell, I need to change things up). I even signed the list. My dearly beloved put the list on the fridge, lest I forget. She's not holding my feet to the fire or anything- these are my resolutions, I doubt she cares too much.

Anyway- here's the deal. I've decided to post the list here too, as a public act of...I don't know... something or other.

1)Perfect these recipes:
a)Mulligatawny Soup.
b)Pub Curry (which isn't defined on the list, but it's a Tikka Masala- I'm still trying to decide between Tofu for dearly beloved or Chicken for me to enjoy alone),
c)Scrambled Eggs (my scrambled eggs are edible, but far from perfect),
d)Pancakes (again, I do a nice pancake, but I think I can do better).
e)Fish dish to be determined later (I didn't want to be specific, because I might cheat here and make Fish Tikka Masala if the end of the year is coming quickly).
f) Completely random dish to be determined by whim...which has turned out to be french vanilla ice cream. Check this one off- I've done it, and can replicate it whenever I feel like- wahoo! It's good to see I achieved something in the first couple of months of the year.

2) Perfect my Bread & Tortilla "Instinct" - I've put this under a separate number and away from "Number 1) Perfect these recipes" because I've already got this somewhat down. This challenge is to keep making bread and tortillas, not just to perfection (for my taste) but to make them so often that I can make them by instinct alone. Well, instinct and flour and water and so on...but instinct instead of doggedly following a recipe in some book. So far this year, I've made a couple loaves of bread that were fine and one batch of tortillas that weren't.

3) Make Marshmallows - I'm not going for perfection here. I'll settle for "yummy".

4) Make Penuche Fudge - One of my great aunts gave me penuche fudge when I was just a wee lad. I love penuche fudge, but it costs an arm and a leg and a couple of extra toes to buy it. I want to at least try a batch by the end of the year. I've really got to work on the whole "soft ball" fudge making thing.

5) Lose 30 pounds - Okay, this is the problem. Look at the above list...I'm going to "perfect" all that food and still lose weight. How? Well, I've been going to the gym most days (at least 4 times a week) which helps, and I've been sick for the last few days (hurray lost water weight!). This is going to be the problem spot.

That's the list- and I resolve to do these things in 2009!
If I don't, well, there's always 2010.

Monday, February 23, 2009

To Have and Have Not

In the film "To Have and Have Not", script co-written by William Faulkner based on an Ernest Hemingway novel, the most famous lines were ad-libbed by the actors.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ice Cream

I just made my third ice cream (well, second ice cream - one was a sorbet).

The first ice cream I made was a french vanilla. It came out great. I was so happy with the result that I figured I could do no wrong. Because I was riding high, I decided to go with a flavor that I felt could fail- my pride could take it. For my second try, I went with the beer sorbet (as found in the Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book). The beer sorbet was...frozen sweet beer. The texture came out fine, I was happy there. I'd used my favorite beer, Guinness Stout.

A quick aside: I think there are three perspectives on beer. The first one doesn't like beer at all, the second likes the effect of beer but not the actual flavor. I probably fall into a third group, I actually like the taste of beer. I don't drink all that often but when I do, I like a nice flavorful stout or porter. I don't care about the actual alcohol content. I'm not getting drunk, I'm enjoying a tasty beverage.

At first, I didn't care too much for the beer sorbet. Frozen beer wasn't really doing it for me. However, on the second (or maybe the third) tasting, I suddenly loved it. This isn't the first time this has happened to me. Years ago, I tried Moxie. I was thirsty and had opened a Moxie cola. I hated the flavor, felt it was nasty- like cold medicine nasty. I don't know if it was a hot day or if I was too lazy to get a different drink or even if I just didn't want to waste it, but I kept drinking it. Sips at first, because that's easier, of course. By halfway down the bottle, I'd forgotten that I thought it was nasty. By the time I'd finished the bottle, I was ready for another soda. I had a large selection of drinks (thanks to a recent stop at Galco's) but I found myself reaching for another bottle of Moxie. Now, when I'm at Farmer's Market or somewhere that has Moxie, I'll choose it over other soft drinks.

I don't know when the first time something like this happened to me. It could have been coffee or broccoli or something. I doubt it'll be the last. My taste seems to evolve quickly, it's probably a good thing. Of course, if you are thinking that now that I like beer sorbet, I'll keep on making it all the time, you are wrong. I just made Kahlua-Amaretto ice cream. Life is too short to stick with one type of frozen dessert.

Friday, February 13, 2009

mixing my metaphors

I find that I've started mixing metaphors lately. It doesn't really worry me, due to the "mutts are usually healthier than pure breeds" thingie. I should probably throw in a mixed metaphor here for humor or something, but since I'm still working on my first cuppa coffee today, it would shoddy at best.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

English is a living language

English is a living language. It coughs, farts and wheezes just like the rest of us. I've heard that its having troubles with stairs these days. The poor thing is getting old.

only joshing - apropos of nothing

As a child, when I said that I was "only joshing" I meant that I was only joking around. Of course, I didn't know anybody named Josh back then. Over the years, I've learned that it actually means "I'm being spiteful because of my own feeling of inadequacy".

I'm just a rambling man

What happened to day 2 of my foodalogue? Laziness. It's true. I ran out of steam.

I've decided that I want to be able to do the New York Times Crossword puzzles in a timely fashion - to that end, I picked up the Nintendo DS game with almost three years worth of the puzzles. I've never been a crosswordy kind of person, so I'm happy with the small victories of just completing monday puzzles without having to hit the "hint" button (which just gives you the letter you are on, I don't call giving you the answer a "hint" as much as a "you failed"). Unfortunately, the Nintendo DS game scores how well you did- I often get "D-" because it takes me almost an hour to knock out a monday puzzle out (though I did get a "C-" on a puzzle that had a "Happy Days" theme).

Dearly beloved scowled at my video game and told me that if I want to do the puzzles, I should just do the damned puzzles in the paper (or words to that effect). She may be right, but I like being able to hit "erase" - pencil lines don't come out as well.

Another DS game that I've picked up is their version of Wordjong - a game I've played on Pogo, but I really wanted a portable version of the game. There's probably an iPhone app. for it, but I'm good with the DS one.