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Archive for January, 2012

In Which I Become That Guy Who Posts Photos of His Food, You Can Skip This Blog Post If You Like, Really It’s Fine, I Won’t Be Offended

January 26, 2012 2 comments



BREAKFAST BURRITOS:

1/4 Cup Diced Tomatoes
1/4 Cup Diced Green Chilies
1/4 Cup Diced Onion
Shredded White Cheddar (to taste)
3 Eggs
Italian Seasoning, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Salt, Ground Black Pepper

Whisk eggs, veggies and seasoning (along with the cheese, if you like) until well blended. Heat a small frying pan, greasing it with light butter or calorie-free pan spray. You want the dial (or however your range is set up) to be halfway between the medium heat and lowest heat settings. Once pan is hot, pour in egg mixture. Heat until eggs are fully cooked (at least. if you prefer your eggs a bit darker, be my guest, but never eat undercooked eggs).

While eggs are cooking, take two flour (or corn) tortillas and melt cheese into them. Once eggs are cooked, add mixture to melted cheese, wrap and enjoy.

This makes two (with flour tortillas) and the mixture (as I make it) comes to about 804 calories, which is a pretty big number, but it’s possible to store half of the egg mixture in a plastic container to heat up later (it works out relatively well) which works out to about 402 calories. The reason I eat two is, between the veggies and the protein from the eggs, not to mention the carbs in the tortillas, I tend to remain full for the rest of the day. I generally make this around lunch time and I end up eating a much lighter dinner because of it. I don’t make this every day, because, yikes, calories. But once every few days, it’s a nice change of pace from oatmeal, protein shakes, cereal etc.

I tried it with diced ham the other day, but the flavor of the ham was lost amidst the onions and all. I’m considering adding turkey sausage next time, to add a bit more protein/flavor.

These turned out so good, I thought I’d share my process with anyone who might want to try them.

I also welcome any suggestions as far as other things to add/try. I’m trying to make something that is relatively healthy (I could eliminate the cheese, to be honest with you, and the calories would be considerably lower, but the overall flavor takes a huge hit), super filling (which this certainly is), and gives me plenty of protein. Again, I welcome any suggestions. Should I try the turkey sausage next time? My concern is the calories, which get to be a bit high. If I tried eliminating the cheese (trying a lower calorie cheese, maybe?) and using the sausage in its place, it might work. I don’t know.

I do know that, since I’ve been cooking a lot of my own food like this, I have lost weight.

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Sleep, Soon

January 22, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s 10:34pm and I’m waiting for sleep. Not that I’m experiencing insomnia, you understand. No, I’m tired and feel as though I could drift into slumber while sitting on this chair at any moment, a dangerous proposition in many ways, but there it is. No, it seems if I make any attempt to sleep longer than a certain amount of time, my body rebels in horrible ways (usually involving a staring contest with a wall that ends in victory for the wall). What little extra sleep I am able to squeeze out of my night/morning is deemed punishable by a headache that follows me around the rest of the day, making things unpleasant. So, the only options I find available to me are the following:

1: I go to sleep when I want to, but run the risk of waking up extremely early (two or three in the morning) and not being able to find my way back to sleep.

or

2: Wait until a relatively late hour to go to sleep, to ensure that I wake up right on time.

Tonight, I’m going with the latter, as I have work in the morning.

This is an incredibly boring blog post and I apologize. If you’re even still reading.

Here, for your troubles:

(I tried to find a live performance of this song to post, but none of them had any sort of quality audio)

It’s nearly 11:30 now and I’ve written a bit here and searched a bit there and tweeted and tumblr’d and facebooked and now I can say with confidence that I will be going to bed.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Sparkling of Trees, Photos of Dogs, Etc.

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

There are trees behind my house. Not many, not a forest, and they do not all belong to me (do any trees really belong to anyone?), but they are there. Right now their branches are weighted down with small amounts of snow. Set against the cold gray sky, their profiles are like that of jagged hands jutting upward in an attempt to clear the clouds and the gloom. One such tree, the tallest of the group by far, still has tiny leaves upon its highest branches and when you combine high set foliage with moisture and with freezing temperatures and with wind, you get something very beautiful. The branches swayed back and forth, as they always do, but this time the sun broke free of the clouds and its light reflected off of tiny bits of ice that had formed atop the tree. The movement highlighted this fact, as the ice sparkled in the sunlight like diamonds.

I thought it was something I should share with someone. But the wife is away at work and the boy is visiting a friend, at whose house he slept over, so I enjoyed it alone. Until I felt something resting on my lap.

Oh, why not? I thought.

So together, Gizmo the dog and I stood at the window and stared at the tree in silent appreciation.

Well, I stared at the tree in silent appreciation. I’m pretty sure Gizmo was looking for squirrels.

If that was in fact what she was looking for, she was disappointed, as no squirrels were out running about today. But I enjoyed it, that shared moment with my dog.

Legendary blues singer Etta James has passed away. I can’t sum up in words how much she will be missed, so here:

Here, have 13 Writing Tips as given to you by Chuck Palahniuk.

Just a reminder, I’m still updating my fiction-themed Tumblr, albeit sporadically. I try to at least throw a quote or two, or links to articles, up there every now and again that I feel might help other writers. Or at least ones I feel have helped me in some way.


I’m going to eat my lunch, clean the house a bit, and maybe do a bit of reading before the wife gets home.

Categories: Uncategorized

We Are All Disney’s Bitch

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday morning, we packed up the family and traveled the hour or so it takes to get to civilization. Our mission was clear: A viewing of Beauty and the Beast, to be followed by a Chinese buffet lunch. The mission was a success and the day went well. The Chinese buffet turned out to be much more than just Chinese food, as it also had a sushi bar. Those of you who have been following along at home will remember that I have sorely missed sushi since moving to a rural area, so far away from any ocean to speak of. Well remembered, well remembered. My craving has been satisfied, for the moment.

It’s astonishing that we traveled for an hour and paid a combined total of eighteen dollars (Sunday matinees still exist, it turns out) to see a film we have owned so many times. The wife used to own Beauty and the Beast on video, a number of times, plus the DVD/Blu-Ray combo we only recently purchased. We’ve watched out Blu-Ray copy of the film a couple of times since its release, which was only a couple of months ago, yet we still deemed it a necessary goal to see it again on the big screen. It’s one of the wife’s favorite Disney films and, truth be told, one of mine as well. I was afraid it would seem dated, but it holds up surprisingly well. All of the animation is still beautiful, the voices are still delightful, and the songs still have the capacity to get stuck in your head for days. In case you were wondering, we skipped the 3D presentation of it. We hemmed and hawed and mulled it over for a long while before deciding it simply wasn’t worth paying an additional two dollars and risking a headache just to see LeFou flying toward us –after being punched by Gaston– in Disney digital 3D.

The restaurant we went to was a place called Chen Garden in Willmar, MN and it was fantastic. The food was very well done, the sushi was surprisingly fresh for being served in the mid-west, and watching the Teppanyaki chef work his magic over the grill was entertaining. We had a wonderful time and if you find yourself in the area, you should check it out.

A quick pop into Best Buy, to purchase a flash drive (and some anime box sets, because why not), then it was a nice drive home. All in all, it was a very relaxing Sunday.

If you’re a fan of Arrested Development, and want to mock someone by imitating a chicken like your favorite character, but you’re just not sure how, here:

You’re welcome (coo-coo-ca-cha).

Quentin Tarantino has released a list of his top eleven films of 2011 and there are some surprising placements. For example, he lists Green Lantern and Green Hornet, both films universally panned by both critics and movie-going audiences, as films he enjoyed (though, to be fair, I enjoyed them too, in a sick way). He also listed Drive in his “Nice Try Award” category, which is shocking to me, as Drive seems like the sort of movie he would truly enjoy (keep in mind, I’ve not yet seen it myself), unless it’s far different from the kind of film I’ve been led to believe it is.

Warren Ellis has written a great post, detailing the art of comic book scripting. It’s such an informative read. Here.

Meanwhile, Harlan Ellison gives a brief –but insightful– interview here.

Reading it made me happy to be reading another Harlan Ellison interview, yet sad by the finality of its tone. Harlan is sick, we know that much, and we know that, in his words, he doesn’t have a lot of time left in this world. To hear him talk about his regrets regarding not writing enough, not writing as much as he could have, is a sad thing.

While in Willmar, we stopped at a little book shop in the mall (we’re able to see a movie, enjoy an Asian feast, and buy books all in one location. God bless America.), and I picked up this:

Years ago, a good friend gave me the gift of a book of Robert Frost poetry and I treasured it. I’m no expert on poetry, nor am I pretending to be, but I’ve loved Frost for a long time and while I’m sure my old book of Frost poems is hidden away safely inside a box in California, it does me absolutely no good there. And so, I purchased this, to hold me over until I can reclaim my old one. I’ve been flipping through it, scanning pages, reading passages here and there. It feels good.

I’m also writing this on a brand new computer. I’d forgotten how nice it is to use a machine that actually works properly and doesn’t take hours to load content, even over broadband. I’ve also forgotten how quiet a computer can be when it isn’t ancient and on its last legs of life.

The weather has been a roller coaster ride, here in Minnesota. We’ve gone from sunny days with temperatures of 60F, to a wind chill that brings it all down below zero, in the span of a few days. They say snow is coming, a warning that is repeated week after week, most times with no results. We’ll see if there are truth to the rumors this time.

I’m exhausted, so I think I’ll stop writing –both this blog post and the other thing I’ve been working on that I won’t yet tell you about– and get some sleep.

I’m leaving you with a clip from the film Dreams with Sharp Teeth, a documentary on Harlan Ellison that came out a few years ago. I’ve probably talked about it here before, in fact I’ve probably even posted this clip before, but it bears repeating, so there you go.

If you haven’t already seen the film, I suggest you do so. If you have never read any of Ellison’s work, I suggest you do that, too. The man is a powerhouse of science fiction literature and one of those larger-than-life personas that are not easily forgotten. Think of him as Hunter S. Thompson if he had never had a drop of alcohol or done any drugs. Yes, I know it’s hard to imagine.

Categories: Uncategorized

Doctor Who Related Nonsense or How To Let Go Of Your Doctor

January 7, 2012 2 comments

A Word of Warning: Ahead, there be spoilers.

When I was much younger than I am now, and after having discovered the joys of a funny old British sci-fi show entitled Doctor Who on my beloved local PBS station, I witnessed the following:

What you see there is the fourth Doctor, as played by the legendary Tom Baker, regenerating into Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor (well, technically, it’s the fourth Doctor regenerating into the Watcher, who regenerates into the fifth Doctor. Don’t ask). This was difficult for me to watch for a few reasons. First of all, Tom Baker was my Doctor. I vaguely remember seeing an episode or two with Patrick Troughton (second Doctor), and I know I saw at least a couple of episodes with William Hartnell (first Doctor) before PBS settled into the Tom Baker years. But once Baker hit the screen, I was hooked. The hat, the scarf, the jelly babies. Plus, it was the first time we’d seen the Doctor as a fun-loving guy. The first Doctor was the wise old man, a sense of which we all still have of the Doctor, somewhere beneath whatever personality has taken over since. We still see him as that wise old man underneath all the silliness. The second Doctor was the mad scientist, the third Doctor was all business. But the fourth Doctor seemed to genuinely enjoy flying through space and time in a bright blue Police Box. And who wouldn’t? Sure the fourth Doctor had moments of seriousness (usually whenever anyone tried to fuck with Sarah Jane Smith), but he had this overall childish charm about him, which I loved.

So, after many episodes (seriously, Baker portrayed the Doctor in over 170 episodes), he was definitely my Doctor. So when the time came, as it inevitably does for every Doctor, that he must regenerate to stay alive, it was a rough moment for me. I felt so betrayed, so violated. Here was this Doctor that I had grown to love and admire and he was being taken from me. It wasn’t the same as when any of the previous Doctor’s regenerated, because none of those other Doctors were my Doctor. This was my Doctor, and he was regenerating into someone else entirely. I swore I wouldn’t like this new Doctor. Peter Davison? Who the hell does Peter Davison think he is, coming in here and replacing Tom Fucking Baker? What an asshole.

But I grew to appreciate Davison, as I grew to appreciate the remaining Doctors as well. The great thing about Tom Baker’s portrayal of the Doctor was the fun and silliness that he brought to it, as I mentioned above. But that fun and silliness has stayed with the Doctor throughout all later regenerations, in some detail. Maybe not Paul McGann (eighth Doctor). I don’t remember the movie very well, as it’s been a long time, but as I recall, Paul McGann’s Doctor was a bit over-serious. I may be wrong.

But in 2005 when the series Doctor Who itself regenerated (see what I did there?), Christopher Eccelston (ninth Doctor) brought some of that fun-loving nature back into the role. The ninth Doctor, for me, was the most intense Doctor. This was a version of the Doctor who had definitely seen some shit (some shit = the Time War and the death of every other living Time Lord). But there are still episodes where he’s able to crack jokes and have a good time. That’s an element that is vital to the Doctor, I feel. It’s humanizing.

Enter David Tennant (tenth Doctor). I think it’s fair to say that David Tennant is the Tom Baker of this new generation of Doctor Who fans. Tennant has had the longest run of these new Doctors, much as Baker held the longest run in the old series. He was much more upbeat and cheerful than the Doctor that came before him, though he also held on to the ability to be somber and reflective. Tennant had the uncanny talent of combining personality traits from several of the past Doctors into one being. So, it’s clear why so many people love him.

But then…

That’s David Tennant regenerating into Matt Smith (11th Doctor). This regeneration was met with a few different reactions, that I have heard. The loudest one being an outcry of mourning the loss of “the best Doctor ever” that was marred by a tint of absolute rage toward Matt Smith and the BBC.

I was also quite sad to see Tennant go. I love everything he did as the Doctor and some of the best episodes of Doctor Who, and I mean EVER, came and went under his flag (if you’ve never seen Blink, then you’re doing yourself a disservice). But you see, I had already experienced this pain. I had already felt this sense of betrayal, this unfounded hatred of an actor I had never even seen before (well, Smith had briefly appeared in a previous episode of Doctor Who), so I was already well aware that it would pass, if I was only able to give the new guy a chance.

A lot of the new fans have embraced Matt Smith, some are even calling him their Doctor, which is wonderful. But there remains a large cross-section of fans that are holding on to the Tennant years so tightly, that they can not see how much of his portrayal of the Doctor is still very much alive within Matt Smith’s performances. You must remember that this is the same character. Each actor brings something different to the table, but in essence, it’s the same guy with a different face, and so far, each actor has done a decent-to-phenomenal job of working that fact into their performance. I know people who stopped watching the show completely after Tom Baker’s regeneration. These people have never seen any of the following Doctors, they never saw the 1996 movie with Eric Roberts as The Master, they’ve never seen any of these new episodes at all. All because, simply put, why bother? “If Tom Baker isn’t the Doctor, I’m just not interested.”

And I’m finding this to be true of this new generation of Whovians. Many seem to have adopted a “if it’s not Tennant, I simply don’t care” view of the show, and I feel horrible for them. Because there have been some truly amazing episodes to come out of this “Matt Smith era” and I feel as though they are either not able to fully enjoy them, or even worse, not watching them at all. Sometimes as a fan of something, you need to loosen your grip on it, just a bit, to fully enjoy it. If one takes a step back and looks at the greater picture, they are often able to find more enjoyment in it.

So, for those of you out there who dislike Matt Smith because he’s Matt Smith and you don’t like him, that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, especially regarding something of fandom. But if you dislike Matt Smith for no other reason than he is not David Tennant, I implore you; Please rethink it. Please go back to the start of Smith’s run and try to watch these episodes with fresh eyes. Because they’re really something magical.

And to those of you who are huge Matt Smith fans and who want him to play the Doctor forever, hold on. Your time of outrage is coming, as well.

Links And Things: January 4th, 2012

January 4, 2012 Leave a comment

If you’re a fan of education, as I am, then you will probably be as excited to read this as I was.

It seems as though John Hodgman has started doing impromptu Q&A sessions over at his website, AreasOfMyExpertise.Com. He answered an obscene amount of questions yesterday, seemingly throughout the day and into the night, and says it was such a success that he’ll be doing it again in the near future. You should read some of the answers from yesterday which are, of course, hilarious.

You might love Twilight. I’m not insinuating anything, I’m just saying that, statistically, you may be in the group of people who go gaga for the poorly written adventures of Edward and Bella. Or you might hate it. I think that’s more likely, if you’re reading this blog. But whether you love it or you hate it, I’m sure you’ll find humor in this article entitled If Famous Writers Had Written Twilight. Check out the comment section, because some of those responses are golden.

Here’s a fascinating interview with Phillip K. Dick from 1979.

Lastly, this is a thing that happened and is real. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, and Weird Al Yankovic all performing Come Together by John Lennon on the island of Maui on New Year’s Eve.

THAT IS A THING THAT IS REAL. IT HAPPENED IN REAL LIFE ON THIS PLANET.

Unpopular Opinion: American Horror Story

January 3, 2012 Leave a comment

When American Horror Story premiered on the FX Network last year, the wife and I thought “Ooh, this looks interesting. A serialized horror program? Genius! We love horror, so this will be great!”

But I feel like it’s our love of horror that has kept us from enjoying this show. It can’t be said we didn’t give it a fair shake, we watched all 12 episodes of the first season. This was for a number of reasons, starting with “Maybe it will get better as it progresses” which transitioned into “Wait, there are people who like this show? Really? Why? Let’s keep watching, maybe we don’t get it yet” which finally rested on “Well, let’s finish out the season, at least. Maybe once we see the whole thing, it’ll be better in retrospect.”

The biggest problem I had with the show was the lack of likable characters. Something that is paramount in any sort of fiction, but I feel even more so in horror, is that you have at least one character to root for. The great thing about horror, and the reason that even most bad horror movies are still enjoyable to watch, is that even if you don’t like any of the characters, there is usually at least one character that you dislike so much more than the others, that you watch just to see what horrible fate befalls them. This was not the case with American Horror Story. I found myself not merely liking or disliking the characters, but rather I felt a deep sense of indifference toward them. I honestly didn’t care what happened to these characters, one way or the other. I would have liked to, at the very least, wanted to see one or two of them meet a grisly end, but no.

The second thing that bothered me about the show was that all of the bits that were meant to be scary were not. Not to me, anyway, and not to the wife. Maybe we’ve seen too many horror movies, read too many scary stories, maybe we’re desensitized by seeing many of the same things over and over again. But if that was the case, then why am I enjoying The Walking Dead so much? Why do I find that show to be genuinely scary and dramatic? The wife doesn’t share my love of The Walking Dead, but she is also in the minority of people who dislike zombies. She agrees that the writing and acting is solid, but the zombies are the part of the show that takes her out of it.

American Horror Story seems to throw a lot at you in a small amount of screen time. In the first fifteen minutes of an episode, we’ll see someone stabbed, someone shot, a dead baby dismembered and reassembled into some sort of Frankenstein’s monster (albeit, that occurred off-camera), and all the jerky camera movements you can shake a, well, camera at. They take a lot of queues from the Asian horror archetype, and to be fair, some of them work. But for the most part, you’re just left watching a character whose head is shaking around erratically for no reason. Not exactly scary, per se. Especially since it’s been done many times –and better– elsewhere.

All of that being said, there were points of the show that I enjoyed. Jessica Lange is wonderful in this series. In fact, if I were forced to choose a sole reason for someone to watch American Horror Story, it would be her performances alone that I would base my recommendation on. I’ve enjoyed the work of Zachary Quinto since his role of Sylar on Heroes back in the day, so I was quite happy to see him pop up from time to time. The writing is decent, which I’m counting as a compliment to the series, though honestly, it could have been much better. Some of the episodes were genuinely creepy, yes, and many of the themes that they handle over the course of the season are disturbing and unsettling, so it does it’s job in that way. But every episode started with me thinking “Oh, they’re going to do this. But no, that’s too obvious. They’ll do something completely different, right?” and ended with me thinking “Oh. I guess not.”

People applaud the show for its varied twists and turns and the surprising path the subplots follow throughout the season, though I have to say, I was never very surprised by anything. Maybe I’ve seen too many M. Night Shyamalan movies to not see a “surprise” twist coming, at this point, but between the wife and I, we were able to figure out every single “shocking” plot point before it even happened. In fact, most times we were able to predict how an episode would end before it even started. We would read the episode description on our DVR and say “This is going to happen.” and it would. Almost every time.

There were episodes I enjoyed, episodes I absolutely hated and wished would have ended sooner, and there were episodes that I was completely indifferent toward. I can’t say the show is completely without merit, and I can’t say that watching it was an entirely unpleasant experience for me or the wife, but overall, given the sigh of relief we both let out at the season finally ending, I don’t think we’ll be watching next season.

Bring on The Walking Dead, though.