Thursday, June 13, 2013

I See You've Played Knifey-Spooney Berfore

THIS IS the second iteration of what is either a really good idea or a really bad one, depending on who you are. If you like eggs, it's a really good idea. If you don't like eggs, it's a really bad idea. If you're a cardiologist, it's something you'd like to have around prior to running a battery of blood serum tests. Basically, three eggs scrambled with bacon and shredded cheese, on a fake Kaiser roll with sliced turkey and American cheese on the bottom and more American cheese on top. The bottom of the roll is buttered-- and that makes ALL the difference-- while the top is mustarded. It brings to mind a period in my college years when I had a running competition with one of my foodie pals as to who could make the most ridiculous egg sandwich, the basic outline of which was the item would consist of two sunny-side up eggs on white bread, and incorporating Worcestershire sauce. In comparison to those creations, ANY of those creations, this is an excellent idea indeed.

This is not the movie of the day, but I was eating the self-same creation when I watched it last week. This was the second viewing, the first having taken place some time ago, at which point I dismissed it as macho posturing. which it most certainly is, but that's not to say it isn't extremely well done macho posturing. And although there are some elements that just don't make any goddamned sense at all-- they choose to truck unstable dynamite through 200 miles of jungle rather than just have some BRAND NEW C4 FLOWN IN, which they EEEEEEEASILY could have done in less time than it takes to make this fococta trip, just for starters-- the fact remains that it is a well shot, well acted, well crafted actioner. The thing that set me off the first time-- which is the way they set up Roy Scheider's character as part of a mob who would think nothing of robbing a church of it's massive pile of profit from a ring of bingo games. Which was all well paced and exciting, ending in a beautifully choreographed car wreck, but, c'mon. STOOPID.

But I had to watch it after I caught this thing, which is the original French movie based on the original French novel, which is based on the original French nothing-- to be fair, I don't know that, it could be the author experienced something like a life in a run-down South American desert village-- which, huh? I mean, Mexican mountain dessert, yeah, but South American? I just don't know, and apparently I can't be bothered to do the research-- largely populated by ex-pats from one place or another fleeing a misspent life and scamming out a living in any way that comes to hand. But it seemed very built, very invented. And well built at that. The reviewer who brought this up (At the Onion AV Club) complained that the world building and character shaping took up a disproportionate volume of the film before they finally got to the action. I actually found that the worthier part. Not that the action wasn't worthy: it was mostly well done, with  a few contrivances I was able to look past-- basically, spoiler alert, the hero dies in the end because he's screwing around on the drive home--and the plot driver makes ALOT more sense in the era it's set in. (And the heroine dies because she's dancing too much. Um. Nah.)
So do I recommend it? Yeah, actually. Watching both movies, in either order, can be illuminating. Freidkin-- William Freidkin, director of the 1977 version-- claimed this was not a remake of the '53 version, but a different film in it's own right, and I can see what he means. There are character parallels and plot arcs in common, but the feel of the film is VERY different. The original was much more character based, where the '77 version is much more an existential exploration of despair and damnation. Also, the jungle mountains are a very different environment from the landscape the original was filmed in, which is most likely Italy or Spain, I would guess. So both films have their points, and as long as you can leap across a plothole or two, either one can provide an hour or two's diversion. But you should never eat an egg sandwich the size of your own foot. You might be better off eating your own foot, instead. I have no idea what I mean by that.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Don't Get Around Much Anymore

 SO I QUIT this awhile back, because they had decided everybody wanted to upload things from their iPhones. Or something like that. All I know for certain is that I couldn't find the browse to upload images button, and, well, anyone who's ever read anything here should know that not being able to upload pics would completely destroy what little purpose my works have. This is something I have been doing off and on for the better part of a month, kind of an approximation of the sort of thing you'd get at an Arby's or Hardee's (or, out west, Carl's Jr.), essentially a pile of meat on a bun drenched in cheese. With condiments, although I had the advantage of being able to put them on before I piled the meat and goo pile on, which, as any fast food afficiando should understand, makes all the difference in the world. The Sierra Nevada, of course, speaks for itself. Either you've had one or you have no idea what I would be talking about were I to try to describe it. The Pyramid Discord dark dry-hopped IPA is something I picked up last week, and had been rather underwhelmed by, but paired with the cheddar cheese-- sorry, that's a pile of Oscar Meyer Deli Sliced Cracked Black Pepper Turkey enveloped in two slices of mild cheddar cheese-- it really sang. Highly recommended, at long last.
This is one of my favorite movies, and certainly my favorite surfing movie. I'm not really going to review it, except to say that it is beautiful and wonderful and you shouls see it. My main point in reviewing it is to note that, having thought briefly that the soundtrack itself might be a mighty neat thing to own, I looked it up at Amazon and found that I could get the soundtrack for roughly twice the price of the DVD. Which, y'know, maybe some other time. I'd have to be feeling mighty generous, and probably also ordering a bunch of stuff from Amazon at the time. Because how that goes in this day and age. But anyways, yeah, I recommend it. The flick, not the soundtrack.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

From Sheesh To Shining Sheesh

SO THIS IS-- HA! HOO-HOO!-- this actually IS today's lunch! The picture doesn't do it justice, but this is basically a big pile of incompatible components, black bean soup, Italian sausage, fake Mexican cheese, chopped shallot, and sour cream. In a way it is an approximation, an analog, if you will, of the classic Cuban black bean soup we used to get at the famous restaurant outside Saint Augustine in Florida, but, really, nahhhhh. I know better, and I have been doing it for years, This time I went too far-- shallot? Really? (It'd be yellow onion in the classic configuration.) But man, is it good.
The title comes from an exchange the Wifey and I had earlier today on her realization that, almost a week later, there are STILL people she's having to hide on Facebook because they're all up in a snit because the bland, pasty-faced, businessman-liar they wanted to be president of our fine land didn't get elected, the country instead being duped into voting for a Kenyan-born Muslim terrorist-socialist who obviously kidnapped and drugged that nice middle-class black lady and her two adorable kiddies!
This is why I don't do politics.
Anyways, the conclusion we reached was we had this to look forward to for some time to come. From sheesh to shining sheesh. My mother, drunk or sober, and quick, somebody hide the damn keys.

This was the weekend movie, which after a week of disaster recovery in lower Manhattan (the Wifey's job, not mine-- I just mourned, quietly and excessively), and the election, and whatnot, whatnot including, for my part, at least one fool's errand involving a good hour and half's travel time, and one thoroughly justifiable errand into one of this city's worst and most heinous traffic areas, it was incumbent upon us to order some Chinese take-out from our favorite local joint, come home, sit the hell down and watch what happens when people let Joss Whedon play with their comic books.
And it was good. There was a little more character building and conflict setting in the front end than I might have liked, and while certain aspects of The Hulk didn't make sense (The Hulk never makes sense), when they got into the action in earnest, say about halfway through, this thing just sizzled and sang and ripped along like no body's business. (And Captain America, the world's lamest major super hero, didn't come off as a total doof in the end, which is its own minor miracle, in a way.) And then it was over, and it didn't really matter much, but this pile of inappropriate ingredients went down just fine. It'd be easy to say "just add cheese," but I don't think that was the case at all. You just have to put the thing together without worrying too much whether all these things really belong in the same bowl to begin with.
So do I recommend it? Never hit Manhattan with a hurricane. It just can't take it. I'd have to throw out some guidelines-- the soup is Progresso, the Italian sausage came from our Harris Teeter, but other than that, rules are suspended-- but yeah, this is something you can do that isn't really Cuban black bean soup, but is at least as good, and in some ways better-- CHEESE!-- than the real thing. Almost anything Whedon gets his hands on is likely to turn out good. You can watch it once, at least, easy.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Sh*t Our Sherrif Says

TODAY, election day, voting day, here in Charlotte, North Carolina, is once again cold, dank, overcast. I made it out relatively early, got in line with the senior citizens and a couple of community college kids mid morning, and cast my vote. Against. Against all the racist assholes who are absolutely RABIDLY opposed to the entire notion of having a black president. He's RUINING THE COUNTRY! By being . . . SOCIALIST! Yeah, THAT's the ticket.
(But for the president, too, really. He didn't do that bad. But, lest you think my support is unconditional, let me offer you one word: weatherstripping. You watch your ass!)
Anyways. A cold, dank day is a good day for stew. With cheese. And hey-- you recognize that bread? By my count, this makes FIVE meals this loaf of bread has come to the aid of. Your work here is done, my friend.

This is something that cropped up at a media review site I frequent, and looked like it might be pretty good. It ended up getting stuck into the machine one night, rather late in the game, actually, after we had exhausted the last episode of Fringe season four, and I just couldn't find anything else on. And it was alright. There were some interesting relationship notes in it, the acting was all reasonable, and the plot worked well enough in the end. It's been touted as a comedy-horror, which is fair enough, but, honestly, I didn't find it all that funny. I mean, funny enough. And the actors! Specifically: Karen Black! And Barry Bostwick, always welcome, especially here, where he played the local sheriff as a cross between Bob Dole and Bill Shatner. Wacky, a little out of it, but authoritative and cocksure. Fun stuff. Oh, and the murder scenes were nicely over the top. But when they finally fingered the fiend, eh. Not that big a shock, and not that good a reason for all the vengeance. Kind of like seeing who, in your local region, ended up joining the Tea Baggers.
So do I recommend it? Not really. Voting is over-rated. People used to say-- some still do!-- that we get the government we deserve, but that fails to realize that there's this giant set of political machinery set up to make sure that we NEVER get the government we deserve, whether that means we deserve a good one or a bad one. I mean, I had to vote for a woman whom I know, for a fact, to be a blithering idiot, just so we had a better chance of not electing a homophobic racist. This stew came from a can. You ought to make your stew from scratch, really. But this was good enough for me, on election day. And there was cheese! Lots and lots of cheese. Some Guy Who Kills People was good enough, certainly. But it didn't quite live up to its title. Oddly enough.
Last note: the labels are what came up as possibilities whan the spell checker didn't like "baggers." Happy election day.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

South Park Did It

THIS, OF COURSE, is not today's lunch-- is that gag getting old? Who cares? This is a kind of a revenge lunch. Having made a trip to New York-- Manhattan, that is-- where I was struck dead mid-step no less than a half dozen times by the haughty aroma floating in the air around a cheese monger's stand, not least by the rafts contained in the Whole Foods in the basement of the Time Warner building on Columbus Circle, I came home to a half-wheel of Ile De France brie, which I had opened the week before we left, and which had ripened to great effect. In fact, everything here, except the mango and the black olives, is a left-over of some sort. Call it serendipity.
Today's lunch is a chili cheese tater tot combo which is almost good. Instead of my usual tamperable chili, I used a store brand that took twice as much tampering and still has that slight industrial sludge quality such things always do. I managed to cover it with enough cheese that it is palatable on the whole, and I managed to distract myself with Saranac's seasonal pumpkin ale, which was quite subtle and bearable as such things go, and then dropped a Sara IPA on top of that, which-- wait a moment-- in the words of George Carlin, "If I'm really pissed at 'em, I'll drop a watermelon on 'em! BOOOOOSSSHHH!" (If that's too deep a reference, it's from the bit wherein we find the phrase "Snap, Crackle, Fuck Him." If that's too deep for you, it's from the routine most commonly known as "Arguing With My Breakfast Cereal." Go do your research., It's good for you.)

This, rather obviously, is not the film of the day. This was one night last week when there was nothing else on, so I ended up watching it far sooner than I think I would have. Not that it';s not an excellent film, for what it is. It's just that it had three strikes against it starting out. First, it's very writerly, which I knew it would be, in not the worst possible way, but just in a way I thought would distract me. Secondly, it's more than a bit on the maudlin side, which I knew from reading the reviews when it was out in the theaters. Lastly, it banks a little hard on the cinematography, which, again, I got from the reviews. But in the end, I didn't like it for a completely different reason.
Not that I didn't like it. I did, for a couple of reasons, not least of which was watching Cloony do that in-just-over-his-head bit, which he did almost the whole way through, and which he does so very, very well. Also the cinematography, which was gorgeous and lush and had the added advantage OF HAWAII. I mean, that does help. But there were a coupla things that got me. First of all, the formula of having your characters, one at a time, Release Their Inner Assholes, is one I have never really liked. And then there's the Make The Angel The Demon ploy, which is well done here, but still. Once the card is played, it's played. You can only win one hand with it. But finally, there's the whole Whitey Must Pay factor. I'll explain that below. Originally I was going to entitle this "Crusty, Cheesy Goodness," but any fan and long-time viewer of South Park will know why the title above is infinitely funnier.

Because, in an earlier episode, the writers tweaked themselves over their own creativity by having a character respond to every evil scheme to destroy the town (concocted by Butters, in his alter ego of Professor Chaos) by insisting that The Simpsons employed the same plot device first. (Which, as an indication as to precisely how well fucking written this episode is, they had.) Which is to say, I would satirize this movie for the way they made all their "Hawaiians" white in an oddly appropriate way which is still pretty goddamned cloying in the long run, there's no point. South Park did it. Mahalo!

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fry Is The Eggman!

SO ONCE AGAIN, THIS is not today's lunch. I was totally going to blog about this yesterday, but I let the day get away from me. We have slipped gently into Fall, here in sunny North Carolina, and so yesterday I just had to make an excuse to go traipsing across the Piedmont with the top down. I ended up at the local grocery chain, where I bought some stuff. An apple, a can of crap, a loaf of bread, and thou. (And I actually spent more time kibitzing with the staff than I did shopping, which is usual for me.) So I didn't get back to the notion of blogging about my happy little egg man, sticking his happy little tongue out, daring me to eat him. Which I did. with a couple of locally produced, decidedly lackluster IPAs. (And it would have been doubly serendipitous: at the time, Comedy Central was running the Futurama episode "Frye Is The Eggman." Not that that means anything.

This was not, and probably never will be, the movie of the day. Or the night, or the weekend, or ever. Not because it isn't a good movie, but rather because it asks a great deal of the audience. While it is impossible not to admire Gilliam's scope and ambition, and the movie has more than its share of humorous moments, gasp-out-loud effects, and existential revelations, after all, really, the thing is just a fuckin' slog.
Which is really a cryin' ass shame, because there is an awful lot to like about it. (I was gonna just go ahead and lead with "Midgets." But that seemed a little too obvious.) Sean Connery. John Cleese. Vivid imagery. Time travel. Tightly woven metaphors and deep allusiveness. And, well, yeah, midgets. But it just keeps going and going and going. It's like taking a long road trip with a relative who keeps telling stories about people you used to know that never quite seem to end before the next story begins. (And that poster is damned misleading. This is in no way a Monty Python joint. Even remotely suggesting that it might be is to do great disservice to both the troupe and the film.)

Today's lunch was a chili cheese melt, which any reader of this space should be well acquainted with. I am clearly well acquainted with it. Perhaps even more than is physically comfortable. This is gonna sound forced, but it's kind of like I felt after I watched Time Bandits all the way through the first time. I knew what I was getting into, rode it out all the way to the end, and then began wondering if that was the smartest thing I could have done.
But I do recommend it. So long as you like eggs, midgets and chili. And not necessarily in that order or combination. Which isn't so much a recommendation, after all, as it is an affirmation of a few key elements. I firmly believe that having eggs, potatoes and beer is good for the soul, the same way I believe that watching a challenging movie now and then is a way of broadening the mind and the spirit. And if you have the temerity to make something as ridiculous as a chili cheese melt, then you by God oughta keep eating it until you literally can't stuff down another bite.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Even A Little Mustard & Bread'd Be Nice

I MAY BE misquoting the line from Jimmy Buffett's "Cheeseburger in Paradise,"but I am not entirely sure it matters. First of all, Buffett was singing about the kind of incongruity one very typically encounters in the islands of the end of South Florida, despite all the rhetoric describing starving modern sailors at sea. I never researched it, and I am not entirely sure Mr. Buffett has ever espoused the back story himself, but I feel pretty confident he heard someone ironically remarking that, here so-and-so was in Paradise, and what does he order? A CHEESEBURGER. I am, in fact, having the  last mango in Paris. Again, I don't know if Monsieur Buffett ever had a mango in Paris, but I fell pretty sure he'd understand the reference. This year's mango crop has been fantastic. I have butchered and eaten easily a half dozen over the course of the last month, almost always in the service of a ploughman's lunch. (The avocado crop was tremendous this year as well, which I firmly believe is the Universe's way of apologizing for not letting me make a trip to California this year.)
So this is most definitely today's lunch. In many ways, it's nothing special: the black olives are just black olives, the brie is from St. Louis, the turkey is the same stuff I put on the Cobb salad sandwich, and the bread rolls are very generic dinner rolls. (Of course, the mango is mango, and the mustards, well, one is from the Stage deli in New York, one is Plochman's Kosciusko, but the third is just basic coarse mustard from a local grocery chain.) Still, woof! Quite the spread, and filling me up.

SPEAKING of filling one up! This was last night's movie. The Wifey suggested putting it on because the other one we currently have from Netflix is John Carter, and, she said, she wanted to see that one. (And she was in the process of making a sausage and cabbage soup, so not sure she would be able to keep up with the details.) Talk about filling! And I'm not talking about the movie!
Yes, the sausage and cabbage soup was wonderful and filling. It's good to have basic peasant food not and then. The Real Steel flick was alright, too, but it wasn't anything that would ever stick to your ribs. Just about everything about it was generic and calculatingly crowd- pleasing (even the crowds, which were drawn to be despised as bloodthirsty red-state louts and lauded as noble, root-for-the-underdog, red-blooded Americans). Still, for all that, it was way better than it had any right to be. For crying out loud, even the tag line-- Courage is stronger than steel!-- is calculated bullshit. Courage is not stronger than steel. Ask anyone who's ever been run over by a tank. Oh, wait! You CAN'T! They're DEAD!
But still, by the time of the final, ridiculous, David-and-Goliath fight between giant steel robots, both of whom succumb to punch drunkenness at various points in the bout, the Wifey and I were both on the edge of our seats. Metaphorically speaking, of course-- our couch has no edges. Our couch is so comfy, it has horizons.

This is the move the History Channel has been playing in memory of Neil Armstrong. Which is fine, as far as it goes, except it's not really about Neil Armstrong. It's about Buzz Aldren being a prickly character whose father needled him endlessly-- get it? Prickly? 'cause he was Needled? HA! Of course, it is a kind of fascinating piece, for various reasons, not the least of which is it mixes lots of live-action recreation of events with documentary footage from the events in their own times, and even a swath of the music Pink Floyd played for the BB C's coverage of the lunar landing. But, along the same lines, it's kind of a mixed bag. It feels at various times like it was rushed through production, that James Marsten's wonderfully nuanced performance as Aldren was cut with water, and that voice-over narration was added after the face to turn what was intended to be a nuanced character study into a capsule period piece. GET IT! CAPSU-- Oh skip it.
But I can't recommend it. This sort of thing takes years of experience, and you make one mistake with any of the componentry anywhere along the line, then there is a pretty good chance you ain't coming back down from that cold, cold rock in the sky. Although so long as you start with a good cheese, you'll be fine. Wow. That describes all three, the meal and both movies, in one grand slash. And yet I feel nothing.

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