Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Bald Soprano

SO FOR the last few days, I have been in a funk, a little off my feed, and yesterday morning I finally realized why. I had a gum-line infection which was manifesting as a deep toothache. A visit to the dentist confirmed this-- or at least proved nothing else evidently wrong-- so after a third dose of a VERY stout antibiotic, I decided I owed myself a very stout lunch. Thus, chili rice. This is something my parents introduced me too in my youth, originally meant to be an economical dish of about half chili and half rice, but I make it with about a 2 to 1 ratio of chili to rice, about three times the amount of cheese my Mom would put on it, and about twice as much sour cream as she would have allowed me to have.
Let me give you a cross section of that.
And beer is the proper beverage for this. I spiced up the chili with both chili garlic and regular Cholula, along with cracked green and black peppercorn. The cheese is something new in Kraft's line of shred mixes, what they call Classic Melt: American process cheese shreds with Wisconsin sharp cheddar, Vermont white cheddar and Monterey Jack. A well travelled cheese indeed? It's fine stuff, but, as the Wifey points out, it has about twice the sodium of the usual Mexican cheese blend, So I don't think I will be making it a regular in the rotation. My sodium intake is monumentally high as it is.

This is almost the movie of the day, in that it is almost a movie, and I almost watched it.
Not that it wasn't well done. The 80% or so I watched of it was quite nicely done, with some sharp, surprising dialogue, some fine character acting, especially from Ally Sheedy, who took what I thought was a fairly superfluous character and investing her with a very welcome sense of presence, and Casper Van Dien, who did a smashing job in what was all but a bit part as a tough, wise and pragmatic officer, coming in and taking control of a very bad situation. (Also, a couple of really great scenes: one where a character is interrupted berating another at gunpoint by the arrival of room service, and explains, "I wasn't sure how long this was gonna take, so I ordered us lunch." One where the conventions of made-for-TV movies were circumvented: instead of accusing the college-boy commissioned officer of "fucking with my men," he accuses him of "having a hard-on" for them, which turned into quite an affecting little scene.
Still, it was a TV movie, and it was a fake Vietnam story, and I really have very little patience when writers make up fake versions of the Mai Lai massacre in service of fake stories about post traumatic stress disorder and the number and state of our MIA's from the conflict. And as well done as it was, I don't know that I would give it a complete airing, just on those grounds. Although I don't know that I wouldn't. Like I said, it was mighty well done.
The first part I missed, when I nipped out to the store for the cheese mix, was a bit of exegesis I probably could have filled in pretty easily, maybe eight minutes or so, after which they went back into the thick of the Vietnam War part of the tale. The second part I missed while I was out assembling the dish, which, as you might have guessed, took more than a bit of attention and precision. I came back into the room with the assembled dish, and, boom. Closing credits.
So I almost watched it. I know how it goes, I know it has some excellent bits. But I have no idea how it ends.
So do I recommend it? No idea. For many years after leaving my parent's house, I held the opinion that chili was something to be taken straight: no beans, no veggies, no starch, meat, spice and sauce. (Although later I started adding onions, cheese, and sour cream, which, had you asked, I would have described as "the purist's cheat. Which would be a great title for a novel.)
Also, the real reason this crops up is that no one sells a chili that stands up to basic doctoring these days, so the rice, nice as it is, is actually something of a crutch. So while it may be a really, really well done chili, after all, it's still a made for TV chili.

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Thursday, March 03, 2011



Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Elements Of Repose

SO THIS IS TODAY's lunch, just for the sheer hell of it. The weather has turned, highs in the sixties and blue skies up to the weekend, and around here that means-- or at least could mean-- the end of stew weather for the year. The sandwich is grilled cheddar on multi grain. Lemme amplify that: cheddar cheese and Plochman's Premium Stone-Ground Mustard on Arnold Healthy Multi-Grain bread, grilled to a brilliant crispy finish. Frankly, it was kinda weird, but it went really well with the stew, which I had while watching last years's Formula One race at Interlagos, the road course in Brazil.

And let's call THAT the movie of the day. The movie of the day is most certainly not the current foul, lousy, half-assed "debate" that's going on over whether our children are in imminent danger of being brainwashed by their incompetent, overpaid Marxist overlord teachers.

Now, I had more than my share of bad teachers during my school years-- including one who tried to teach me that a "sentence" is what you read, while a "sentance" is what a prisoner gets, "a lot" is a real estate while "alot" is an amount, and "Tuesday" is spelled "Teusday." And that was in just one year. The ultimate irony came about every third year when I, an eager student always hungry for knowledge, would butt up against a teacher who would declare me lazy, unintelligent, or borderline uneducable. I also have only a passing tolerance for teacher's unions, based solely on my brief interactions with North Carolina's specimen, who, when I knew them, maintained that a teacher's competence was never EVER to be a factor in his or her compensation. But, and I know this to be a fact, teachers in America are not only a soft and easy target for the ignorant and angry, they have been used as scapegoats for everything that might be wrong in our society since the early days of Lee Atwater's assendancy. (Typo. Keeping it.) (Actually, quite like it.) Also, I am lead to believe, by casual example and observation, that my experience was the anomoly, that most teachers are not just competent, but also energetic, intelligent, inspiring, and selfless. How true that is I know not, but really, for crying out loud, people, you gotta know that there are always, ALWAYS going to be more sensible ways of cutting budgets than getting rid of the teachers and/or crippling their unions. But the jack-wagons keep insisting that firing all the teachers is the only way to stop the world from sliding off the edge of the universe and plunging headlong into Hell, which is why the teachers desperately require the assistance of their trade unions.

Just thinking about the whole thing sickens me. It's like they're proud of being lazy, unitelligent, and borderline uneducable. So, instead, I bought new shoes.

These popped up from a tailored e-mail I get from time to time from, where I think I placed an order for shoes that turned out not to be in stock once. (I am fairly certain that this is the first time I have ever bought shoes from them.) I was actually looking for something with a blue body and bright trim, but the colourway (as they say in England) just jumped out at me and knocked me down. Also, oddly enough, it's virtually the same as the color scheme as a pair of Nike Elite Waffle Racers I found at a British shoe selling site, which I would have bought if they had been available in any size above men's 10. Yay shoes.

So the next step was to find someplace for them to live. Not a problem. (This cabinet, on the arrival of my new Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81's, will officially be full.)

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