Friday, March 26, 2010

Thrown into the pit

Last night I had a specific DRI song in mind (Do the Dream), so I cued it up and started rocking it out. A few seconds into the song I noticed a strange but wonderful phenomenon. My four-year-old boy began to act like he got a shot of crack cocaine right into his supercharger. He started jumping around, shaking around, having all kind of fun moving to the music. I decided it was time to teach him what a mosh pit was.

I pulled up Youtube and searched mosh pits. Surprisingly lame results out there, guys. But I did find a Slayer show with a good example. Rather than play out the video, I cued up the song itself (Reign in Blood) and we got a very funny pit going - me, my son and my nine-year-old daughter.

We then went to Anthrax (I AM THE LAW!), Megadeth (99 Ways to Die), Metallica (Trapped Under Ice) and the below song I found on YouTube kind of typifies the sentiment, "Kick your friend in the head and have a ball ..."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

LOST: Final Season: I forgot to post the other day

It was an enjoyable episode. We have some better idea of what the island is (the devil's prison?), but the big thing that came out is that apparently guyliner is the source of immortality:

So, at this point in the story and earlier, Richard/Ricardo has little to no cosmetic enhancements to his eyeline:

But later he returns to his eye-shaping ways:

I pulled this interesting nugget from Nestor Carbonell's (the actor who plays Richard) IMDb page: Carbonell revealed on the "Lost" (2004) fifth season DVD extras that not only does he not wear eyeliner, mascara, or makeup of any kind to make his lashes and eyeline appear as dark as they do, but the makeup artists for "Lost" actually use concealer on his lashes and under his eyes to try to tone down the natural darkness of his eyeline. He also said that the unusual appearance of his eyes caused him to get teased and bullied when he was a child.

I smell BS, but hey, whatever floats your boat buddy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's a philosophy

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin - give the audience a grin
Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death
Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life's a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the right side of life...
(Come on guys, cheer up!)
Always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the bright side of life...
(Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
Always look on the bright side of life...
(I mean - what have you got to lose?)
(You know, you come from nothing - you're going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!)
Always look on the right side of life...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

History is made

Made like the bombing of Pearl Harbor.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Food coma

I judged my first barbecue contest today! It was the Smoke on the Water USA Barbecue Championship in North Little Rock. The contest is considered the world's richest and it kicks off the competition season for many competitors.

Here's BBQ Pitmasters star Harry Soo. His site was right next to the judging area.

This was a Kansas City Barbeque Society contest, the largest barbeque certification agency. For those not familiar with KCBS competitions, teams compete in four categories - chicken, ribs (pork only), pork butt, and brisket. We judges grade six samples of each category. So each judge samples six pieces of chicken, six ribs (or racks, depending on presentation), six pieces of pork and six pieces of brisket. I gotta tell ya, even just sampling a bit or two of each, it is A LOT of food!

The entries we received at the table I was at were stellar. Each piece of chicken was wonderful, we had some great ribs, very good pulled pork and good brisket (one sample was phenomenal). I was looking forward to the pulled pork least - it's something we get a lot of here in Memphis - but every entry just floored me. It was so good!

The contest was held right on the banks of the Arkansas River in North Little Rock.

If you like barbeque, I highly suggest checking out a KCBS contest near you. Or look into a certified barbeque judge class. It's a great way to spend a day!

Friday, March 19, 2010

On metal

I discovered what heavy metal was in 1986.

Prior to 1986 I had heard AC/DC. There was Van Halen and the Scorpions. There was even Quiet Riot. All these bands had their place in laying the hard rock foundation that would become heavy metal, but I never realized what heavy was until I heard those thunderous drums and machine-gun guitars that Metallica laid out in Kill ‘Em All.

That year I was living in Air Force housing in Biloxi, MS. I was new to the area, having moved from Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs just a little before this. At 12, I was still trying to find my place in the world. I liked reading and writing, but I also liked certain sports. I liked my southern heritage, but there were things about it I despised. Musically I was raised on country, 50s rock and gospel, but there was always something about the faster beats and harder-edged music I craved. Little Richard’s Keep On Knocking was probably my first clue of the potential of fast music.

I’m not sure how exactly, but one day I met one of my neighbors who was a couple of years older than me. We started talking about music and my lack of knowledge became quickly apparent. He was asking: “You’ve never heard Metallica?” “How about Megadeth?” “Slayer?” I had to admit that I had not, but he quickly remedied that. I’m pretty sure the first thing we listened to was Kill ‘Em All, but the album I remember liking best was Ride the Lightening. It’s still my favorite Metallica album. And then Megadeth. Oh, how much I liked them. I guess I’ve always been attracted to intricate music and Megadeth had it all over Metallica in that regard. After a couple of hours of listening I was hooked. In no time, I was bringing over blank tapes to dupe so I could listen to them myself.

It’s also important that 86 was a watershed year for heavy metal. Metallica released Master of Puppets, Megadeth released Peace Sells … and Slayer released Reign in Blood. There were other great albums released that year as well, but these thee albums are considered to this day to be some of the most important albums in heavy metal history.

This was all so exciting to me. Not only because it was an entirely new kind of music to my ears, but also because it felt kind of wrong. I was raised in a very religious environment - the kind that frowned on all things rock and roll. We went to the kind of churches that taught about the dangers of “subliminal messages in rock music” and the “backwards messages” secreted in rock recordings. So listening to this “evil” music added an extra element of excitement. It’s similar to what the Ramones sang about in Rock and Roll Radio: “Do you remember lying in bed, with the covers pulled up over your head? Radio playing so no one can see.” Maybe I didn’t pull the covers over my head, but I totally understand the sentiment. At the time it was something I had to keep secret. Something I had to hold as my own.

In retrospect, that was all kind of silly, but I’m sure it’s what helped make that music, music in general, feel that much more special to me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mike Patton, renaissance man

Sheila posted what has to be the definitive post on Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter. I didn't know why, but reading the post, I kept thinking about Mike Patton, Faith No More frontman and purveyor of all things music avant-garde. So, yeah, I didn't get it at the time, but the more I think about it, Patton is to music what Depp has been to film (though with far less commercial success). He melds into each new form or shape effortlessly.

Let's inspectorate, shall we? Patton started in Faith No More when FNM was doing rather prototypical 80s schlock rock. There wasn't much outside the firing lane with Epic, but there was something about Patton. Something that demanded attention. Something that screamed that he was more than just another long-haired glam rocker. Faith No More's next entry - Angel Dust - proved the band had far more going on than many thought. Still they had some commercially accessible songs in A Small Victory or Mid Life Crisis (though I doubt many of those who remember the song know the lyrics to MLC). Still, they had some amazing tunes on that album and at the same time did a cover of Easy:

Patton's voice and manner meld perfectly in this cover.

At the same time that Patton was fronting FNM, he was busy working on his side project, Mr. Bungle - a band that defies description. They are at times surf rock, they are at times ska, they are at times metal, they play circus music, arcade themes and whatever else comes to mind. Yet, even though all these disparate styles go on, somehow it all works, and Patton has a lot to do with that:

WTF, right? But it works.

After Bungle disbanded and FNM split, Patton worked on a lot of different projects. There's probably my favorite, Tomahawk which features members of The Melvins, Jesus Lizard and Helmet:

He also fronted noise-experiment-rock-ish band Fantomas where he did a lot of experimentation with the voice as an instrument:

Another one of his many projects was a "love song" album called Lovage:

He's also worked on soundtracks (the bastards disabled embedding): He used his experimental vocals to provide the voices of the monsters in I Am Legend.

Lastly, his dissing of Wolfmother is legendarily hilarious:

I can't think of any other vocalist who jumps genres like Patton. I can't imagine anyone doing with his success.


LOST: Final Season: Ep. 8

Wow. Not much to that, huh?

So. Sawyer's a cop. With Miles. Whee.

Widmore's there ... whoopty doo. We knew that.

Umm ... wow, a whole hour spent on that.

I was more intrigued by the trailer for next week than this week's entire episode.

Erin go bragh!

Or, as Emily says, happy excuse to get drunk on Wednesday in fake honor of the patron saint of American binge drinkers day.

So yeah, I prefer Guinness to Murphy's, but Bing beat me to it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kissing elephants

I love our zoo here in Memphis. It's very well-designed and growing - a new exhibit just opened, another big one is planned to open next year and they're building a giant nature hiking trail.

We're season pass holders; you only have to go twice to make your money back. I had the day off yesterday, so I drug the kids out to give J-mom some time to do schoolwork, etc.

One of the things I dig about the zoo, is that you never know what the animals are going to be doing. For example, I didn't think the elephants were going to be so affectionate:

We went through our nocturnal exhibit and, I don't know what this is, but he was either not fooled by the artificial darkness or was dead:

Bring a bag lunch, some bottled water and it's a great way to spend a few hours.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Grilled pizza success!

As many years as I've been grilling and barbecuing, I had yet to try grilling a pizza. Well, that changed this weekend!

I made three - two barbecue, one cheese. The two barbecue pizzas when on the grill. One was a pulled pork pizza, the other was pulled smoked chicken and caramelized onion. Here's the pulled chicken ready to go on the grill:

And here it is after being pulled off the grill:

Let me tell you how amazingly simple this was. First the recipe:

Crust (I made three large pizzas, so this could be used for four medium, or even five medium thin-crust pizzas):

> 5 cups of flour (I used 2.5 white and 2.5 wheat and it was great!)
> .5 ounce active dry yeast
> 1/2 teaspoon salt (give or take)
> 2 cups warm water
> 1 heaping TBL of honey
> 2 TBL olive oil

1. Mix the honey and warm water.
2. Add yeast to water and let sit for about 10 minutes - until it gets all foamy.
3. Pour into a large bowl.
4. Add flour, salt and olive oil.
5. Knead for 6-8 minutes. I used my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook on medium until it got kind of stiff.
6. Let rest for 30 min - hour.
7. The dough is ready.

I divided the dough as evenly into three parts as I could. This was enough to get a hand-tossed-style thickness on each. You could certainly divide more to thinner or thicker based on taste.

Some folks use cornmeal on a greased pan - I can't stand that. So I put a little grease on a pizza stone, sprinkle just a little granulated garlic and a bit of salt. The stone is the key for this - a well-seasoned stone doesn't need any further oil to release whatever is cooked on it, but I find a little oil helps crisp up the crust a bit.

I used about four tablespoons worth of barbecue sauce on the pizza - in retrospect I would use more. I craved that tangy bite from my sauce and I just didn't get enough of it.

I had about approx. 2 cups of shredded chicken. Let me let you in on a secret here - without going to the trouble of smoking your own chicken, if you don't have leftovers - Walmart has some of the best chicken you can get your hands on at a great price! Their Rotisserie Backyard Grill Seasoned Chicken is amazing! At just under $5 it's a hell of a bargain too.

Caramelize one Vidalia onion (or more, to taste). I didn't measure cheese, just look at the pic above. I use enough cheese to cover but not overload. It's easy to use too much cheese.

Of course, this works great in an oven, but on the grill it was just phenomenal! I had the grill up to about 450. Then I put the stones on the grill. I had some problems with flare ups and that's something I'll have to address in the future. Also, the pizzas cooked much faster than I expected. They were well charred done after 10 minutes; I think they were probably perfectly done at about six or seven minutes.

If you've never tried pizza on the grill, I highly recommend giving it a go. If you don't have a pizza stone, or don't want to temp it breaking, you might want to try a pizza screen or just some heavy duty foil. I'd be interested in hearing about any of your attempts!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Team story

I recently bought laptops for my two girls. Since we homeschool and are moving to a completely computer-driven curriculum, we really needed to do so. But I got them before they needed them (read: We had the money to do so at the time). We’re not starting them on the new curricula until their next grade level, so I didn’t allow them to just jump in and start using their computers right away. J-mom and I felt that they had to earn them.

Daughter Number 2 is in gymnastics. Very recently she was in pre-team and working toward getting on team. Our stipulation for getting her laptop was that she had to either perfect her back hand spring or make team. DN2 is our hard-headed child, but she loves gymnastics. It’s interesting to watch the different desires at war in her head. On one side, she wants to slack off, talk to her friends and be the social butterfly that’s inherent to her nature. Fighting this is her competitive nature and desire to excel in gymnastics. She recognizes her ability and she really does want to progress. The practical upshot of this is that some nights she tries really hard. Other nights she does not.

DN2 and three other girls were accepted onto team on a trial basis last week. They had to prove that they belonged there. “You’re going to have to prove you belong there. You have to work your hardest all the time.” The salient point to her was: “How much would it suck if you didn’t try your hardest and they told you almost made it?” She took that advice to heart for two nights of practice, but her final night, she seemed to just kind of blow it off. This Monday they found out whether or not they made team. DN2 and one of the other girls made team. While proud of her, I was actually kind of surprised that her behavior the previous Friday hadn’t doomed her chances.

I love that I learn as much, or perhaps even more, through these experiences. I was defining expectations to DN2 based on my perceptions. Without being provided any real objective criteria, it was kind of hard not to. So when she slacked off that one night, I was under the impression that it was the deal breaker. It would have been under my set of expectations, but the coaches were able to see the talent and drive DN2 possesses even if she still needs to sharpen her discipline. I probably need to start looking more toward a person’s talent, skills and abilities and stop defining things by my expectations. That applies to lots of things in my life – both in how I measure successes personally and professionally and in how I base encounters in everyday life.

Daughter Number 1 had to write a story. She is a voracious reader and likes to express herself artistically. It seemed the natural thing to do. Get her to write some kind of story. We didn’t even try and hedge her into any kind of mold. Just write something. She balked at the idea for weeks. However, when DN2 plopped down to start surfing the webbernets on her own laptop, it lit a fire under DN1’s butt.

So she asked us to help her out. To get her some examples of what a story contains. I forgot, so J-mom was good enough to do the Google for me. What DN1 came up with was fantastic. I’m tweaking it right now and getting her to expand some sections, but I’m thinking about asking her if I can post it here. It’s a micro hero’s quest.

Anyway, I’m not sure what the moral is or anything. I guess it has something to do with the power of bribery.

With both girls soon to be tick-a-tacking away on their own laptops, I do think my boy is gonna be jealous.

Just one curiouser for me, thanks.

Went to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D last night. It is by far Burton's best remake, but not his best movie. It's an enjoyable romp that's gorgeous to watch.

Everyone in the movie was perfectly cast. Everyone in the film seems to have done exactly what Burton wanted them to do as far as their portrayals are concerned. My problem is that I'm not sure if I like Burton's take on some of the characters -particularly the Mad Hatter. Mia Wasikowskaas Alice was wonderful, Anne Hathaway as the white queen was great and Helena Bonham Carter as the red queen just stole the show. Johnny Depp as the Hatter ... well, he played the part amazingly, but I just think the characterization was a bit off and that's the issue with the whole movie. The Hatter in many ways sets the pace and tone and since his was always off, the movie kind of seemed that way at times, too.

That's not to say that it's not a worthwhile flick. Far from it, it's quite worth your time to check out. For the visuals alone, it's worth it. Crispin Glover's turn as the Knave of Hearts is another huge plus for the movie. Stephen Fry's Chesire Cat revives the film in spots.

While I think the movie suffers from an uneveness - there are plenty of high and low points (and no that's not a "Drink Me" "Eat Me" pun) - it's better than having a solid two-hours of mediocrity. Because when it's good, it's very good, and when it's not it's just OK. Which is a lot more than Charlie and Chocolate Factory ever was.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What’s your favorite …

OK, don’t think about it, just answer with the first thing that comes into your mind:

What’s your favorite song? GO!

My son asked me this the other night and it took me aback a little. First, because I thought it was so cool that my four-year-old was asking me the question, and second because I consider that a pretty hard question to answer.

However, without thinking, the first song I would say is We Are 138 by the Misfits. It perfectly encapsulates the aggression and energy of rock and roll and it’s short.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

RIP Corey Haim, how I didn't know ye

It's kind of extra sad when one of the stars from your childhood passes away. Especially sad when that person went through so much turmoil in their life. I can't say much about Haim because outside of the few movies I saw him in, I don't know jack about him. I'm with most folks, I remember him best, and most fondly from Lost Boys. I'll probably have to have a Lost Boys viewing this weekend along with my peers. However, if you want to read the definitive RIP remembrance, Shiela has a great piece up about Haim in Lucas.

LOST: Final Season: Ep. 7 – Finally, some answers?


I went to bed last night thinking that they finally answered some questions, or implied answers, or at least laid groundwork for answers, but this morning I’m feeling a lot more questiony.

It was a good episode. It was nice to see that Ben was capable of being a decent person given the right set of circumstances. It was also interesting to learn that they had in fact gone to the island but somehow left – which fits in with the alternate reality’s theme of many things being different.

The most we got out of this episode were the things dealing with Richard. Astute viewers had assumed that Richard had been a prisoner on the pirate ship. We got confirmation of that. We learned that it was through Jacob that Richard was given his “gift” on longevity. That was also assumed by many, but we got confirmation and insight in that he didn’t really know how it worked.

Answers that were implied because of Richard’s situation:
> We know then that Jacob was a conduit for some energy because he was seeking his replacement guardian. This means that whatever power he possessed came from whatever whacky place the island gets its power.
> It also seems like Jack’s the obvious choice for the new guardian, but I’m wondering if that’s too easy. It’s kind of a softball, but I’m going with it because it ties into my overarching prediction that I’ll address here in a minute.

I originally felt that this episode kind of tied of some of Ben’s loose ends, but this morning I was thinking that if Ben had been working for Jacob this whole time, how come he slaughtered all those Dharma people? Jacob could be cruel, but not cruel like that. I’m still under the impression then that Ben was being led by Smoke-monster-man most of the time.

The most annoying thing to me, though, was the end. How the eff did Whitmore find the island so fast? They went to all the trouble of setting up the whole island-physically-moving thing and Whitmore just nonchalantly pops by in a sub. Does this mean that the island did not in fact move, but was just dislodged from time for a while?

I’m ready to make some predictions about the show’s finale. Even though I don’t know the HOW, we do know that Jacob and Smokey played some kind of balancing roles on the island. It’s obvious that Smoke thinks he’s won and that this is the end game. It is, of course, not and just the conclusion of Smoke and Jacob’s reign. This is the set up to a new regime. We’re going to get new black and white guardians. I’m going to go ahead and say that I think those guardians are going to be Jack and Sawyer. They’re playing up Jack’s Luke Skywalker-esque introduction to the “force” of the island while they’ve laid plenty of emotionally scarring groundwork for Sawyer to go to the “dark side.” The simple fact that Jack will take Jacobs place will serve as impetus enough for Sawyer to take the opposing role – he not only feels comfortable in the role, but he also feels like he owes Jack for taking Juliet’s life.

They did kind of throw out a red herring with Ben. The idea that Ben could be the new “black guardian” crossed my mind, but I think they did it to make Sawyer a bit less obvious. But, the way I look at it, if Smokey is Palpatine and Sawyer is Anakin, then Ben is Count Dooku – a key operative, but ultimately expendable.

So, whatever the HOW is in how they do the things they do, and whatever the WHY is in why they do it, I believe this all boils down to a big changing of the guards.

Cause I need all the motivation I can get today

Get the move on, tired ass

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Funny how that works out

Communicators are notoriously poor communicators. What I mean by that is those who are good in the field of communications are usually really good at telling other people how to become more effective, yet are usually horrible at doing the things they tell others to do.

Like many people, I get wrapped around my axle in my domain. I like researching stuff on my own. I like coming up with my own products. I like compiling, editing, and designing on a deadline – just leave me alone and let me work. But whenever I start talking to some other folks in the nearby cubicles I often find, “Wow! There’s so much of X already done. Had I realized this, I wouldn’t have wasted Y amount of time doing it myself.” You’d think I would have learned by now.

In our office space, there are a few different activities. There is my branch – communications, there are some customer service folks, and there’re some data management guys. We are grouped by function, but a lot of our cubicles butt against the other branch folks. There is so much information that flows around here – I can’t, rather, I won’t begin to describe – suffice to say I am amazed at how many moving parts there are to what many people think are simple procedures.

Today, I spent HOURS trying to identify a guy in a photo. I sent the picture around to many different people. I called the POC for the activity where the photo was taken and couldn’t get through to anyone. I happened to be working with one of our customer service guys on something and thought to ask him if he knew the person in the photo. “No, but I’m going to see (the person who will know who that is that you can’t get a hold of) right now.”

We like to be jacks of all trades, we PR/editor/journalist/media types. I talk about communicators because that’s what I know, but I’m sure there are plenty of other career fields where this is a common trait. I just find it humorous that those of us who tout the benefits of clear and constant communication are so poor at practicing it in our own work lives.

I made a poor transition

I don’t know how many of you out there still wear glasses, but I do. I’ve tried to make the conversion to contacts, but I just can’t. They’re not comfortable enough … etc. So I went in and got new glasses a couple of weeks ago.

When going over frame and lens options, I was talked into getting Transitions lenses. It’s my first time having any kind of photochromic glasses, so I finally caught up with 1991. I’ve always had a slight interest, but they’ve either been out of my price range, not an option or just always seemed kind of gimmicky. But my insurance now makes them relatively affordable (cheaper than a pair of prescription sunglasses anyway), so I decided to take the plunge.

So far? Not very impressed.

I have two main problems with the lenses. The first I was expecting: While the lenses transition to dark quite quickly, the lenses take a significant amount of time to transition back to light once inside. I knew this to be the case, but it’s a gripe nonetheless. My second problem? Well, I spend probably 95 percent of my outdoor time in a car. Guess what happens to transition lenses inside a car? They almost completely lighten. The windshield and windows in cars are UV shielded and the UV rays are what trigger the photochromic response in the lenses. So, inside a car, they’re pretty much worthless.

If you’re a glasses wearer and haven’t tried transition lenses, my caveat would be this: If you spend most of your outside time in a car, don’t bother. If you’re active outdoors, it may be a good product for you. Me, I’ll be sticking with sunglasses in the future.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Can you hear me now?

I'm totally ripping this off from Ace, but this is fascinating: the Noise Addicts Can You Hear This hearing test.

They say that most people over 25 can't hear tones over 15 kHz. Sho'nuff I pegged out at 15 kHz. My four-year-old was next to me while I was doing this and he heard all the way up to 19 kHz. I wonder if he's already suffered some hearing damage from me listening to loud music in the vehicle with him.

Certainly makes me think twice about turning up the volume in the future.

Also cool on the linked page, they link to a couple of products to help save your hearing - a set of earplugs that don't just block sound, but reduce the volume to a normal level; and some noise-blocking headphones so you don't turn up the volume so much.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Late LOST: Final Season: Ep. 6

I’ve been sick. Here’s my quick review. SPOILERS below.

Dude told you guys that Sayid was going psycho. But no, don’t listen to the samurai.

I don’t know that this episode answered much of anything, but it was certainly an entertaining show. It was really cool to see Sayid go awesome on that dude who killed Ben’s daughter.

Funny how one of the biggest marketing tactics for this season of LOST is, “All your questions will be answered,” and yet the creators say “all those loose ends won’t be answered.”

Not that I really expected that to happen. As long as we find out the major stuff, I’ll be OK. During a promo for Flash Forward I joked: Cast of Flash Forward find out that everything they’re experiencing caused LOST to happen.

We’ll see.