Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm a bad host

Company is coming tomorrow. My friend Sandy, who has kindly hosted me a number of times, is driving over to spend the night and hang out with me and Kim and Kevie, who are staying near my comic store at a hotel. This is the first time that I have had overnight company that I’m not having sex with since 1998, when Dan crashed on my couch, and I want to make a good impression.

Unfortunately my vacuum, a seven or eight year old beast handed down from my mom, just died, halfway through the apartment. Even worse, I started at the bedroom and was working my way forward, so the living room, where Sandy will spend most of her time, is only half vacuumed. Now I half to figure out a way to get her to only look at the vacuumed half.

Perhaps I could shut the blinds, unscrew the lightbulbs, and only illuminate the apartment through flattering, obscuring candlelight?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

beneath the stadium

Yesterday I was on my way to the gate where I was working the ticket lines, all the way around the backside of the stadium, and realized I could see right onto the field. There’s a better view at some of the other gates, but I still snapped this going by:

beneath neyland stadium

There’s the promised land, where every couple weekends thousands of people come to wear orange and worship football. I had to buy a lot of orange when I moved here, because I didn’t own any. Orange is unflattering to my coloring, and makes me look sallow. It’s not as bad as yellow, but I rarely wore either color before I moved here. Now, though, I guess I love orange.

And there’s always someone nearby that it looks worse on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I was walking toward my car at the end of work today when I saw that every car in the lot had some strange flyer under their wiper, including mine:

windshield flyer

I was about to throw it away when I noticed that there were sweaty guys on it with their shirts off, and one seemed to have his legs wrapped around the other. Intrigued, I started reading, but then discovered that it wasn’t a flyer for gay porn. Instead, it seemed to be about fighting, which doesn’t usually happen in any kind of porn unless it’s two girls who wrestle and tear each other’s clothes off and then start making out, and I don’t like that kind.

Anyway, this flyer starts with big yellow letters, screaming at me:


Maybe they only seem screaming because I spend too much time online, where capital letters stand for yelling.

Take the bag pounding workout of Kickboxing…

Why is “kickboxing” capitalized? I thought kickboxing was about Jean Claude Van Damme. When did bag pounding enter into it?

Add some awesome Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu…

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Wasn’t he one of the Global Guardians?

And throw in a little attitude and some great music…

From Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Are they a band?

And you have a workout that KICKS A**!

Right there they lost all credibility with me. Granted, it was already on shaky ground, but don’t claim to be some kind of ass kicker when you’re scared to even spell the word. I’m not taking any kind of martial arts instruction from someone who’s going to stand up front and yell, “Are you ready to kick some A-star-star everybody?”

What were they even thinking putting this on cars in an office parking lot, anyway? Out of the dozens of people I know or see working in my building, I can count the number of people who can kick higher than their own waist on one hand, and that’s giving a couple people a pretty hefty dose of benefit of the doubt. Hell, I have no business even reading this flyer. I ate an entire bag of frosted mini-donuts for dinner on Monday. I’m certainly not joining a workshop to become an ultimate fighter even if the first thirty people do get a fighting team t-shirt.

I can’t believe Smoothie King sponsored this, or, as my flyer tells me, “sponsered” it. I guess Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was in charge of the proofreading.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Smallville, season 4, a couple of years late

You expect a certain degree of pain when you decide to watch “Smallville”. You know that you’re gonna get slapped around a little, what with the show depending on plot points like the Kents misplacing their son for three months, TWICE, and hoping no one notices or “alien parasites from a cave wall were controlling my brain” being a valid excuse for missing a couple days of school.

The fourth season, though, which I’m watching now, takes flagrant viewer abuse to a whole new level, and the worst part is that they make you think you somehow asked for it just by turning on the television. One second you’re watching Tom Welling’s shirt fall off (or get burned off in a furnace, or get torn off by an Indian shapeshifter, or explode off in a phonebooth through the power of red kryptonite), and the next your suspension of disbelief is cowering on the floor in tears with a red handprint on its cheek while “Smallville” stands over it screaming, “You love to make me hit you!” like Joan Crawford on family dinner night.

In no particular order, here’s my short list of issues with Season 4, which I’m only watching because I was told Season 5 is awesome and Season 6 is slightly less so.

1) The Kents are perpetually on the verge of losing the farm. How the hell does this keep happening? In the first season, they got a bank loan. In the second season, they got a huge settlement from Lex for dead cows. Later, when they took in Lex after he got disowned and financially cut off, he repaid them by paying off all the debt on the farm when he had money again. Martha Kent ran a produce stand, worked as an executive assistant to the CEO of a multinational company, and manages a coffee shop. Somehow, in spite of this, they’re back to losing the farm again. Jonathan Kent isn’t just a bad farmer, he’s also a crappy bookkeeper.

2) The Kents are noble and poor, but they never actually seem to go without anything. They have an endless supply of lumber, tractors, fenceposts, and barn siding to replace the things that get broken when Clark is possessed by Jor-El or spurting heat vision in a state of sexual arousal or overpowered due to solar flares. Clark has an endless supply of flannel shirts (I mentioned above that he goes through a lot of them), and none of them have patches or frayed sleeves or even a button missing. The problem is that we’re always told the Kents are poor, but we’re never shown it. They’re TV-poor, which means that the electricity at the farm never gets shut off and they never have to have pancakes for dinner because flour is cheap.

The only things they actually seem to go without are the large expensive presents that creepy, bachelor Lex keeps giving their pouty-lipped, pectorally-gifted son that he just wants to be closer to and whose secrets he wishes to explore. Listening to the Kents talk about being poor is kind of like listening to the Skywalkers bitch about how horrible slavery is in “The Phantom Menace”: “Oh, it’s terrible being a slave, just awful. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go polish my race car.”

3) Chloe can’t manage to stop herself from making the same mistake, over and over. At the end of the first season, she gave up on Clark because she couldn’t compete with Lana. Oh, and at the end of the second season, she gave up on Clark because she and Lana didn’t want to fight with each other over him. And hey, during the third season she started working for Lionel Luthor to try to get over giving up on Clark because he wasn’t interested. So here we are in the fourth season, and Chloe just got done crying inside because Clark and Lois smiled at each other. I look forward to the episode when Chloe rams a steak knife through her hand because that’s as much fun as falling in love with Clark when you’re anyone other than Lana, and Chloe clearly enjoys that sort of fun.

4) Clark joins the football team in the fourth season, and explains to the coach that he has no idea what position he plays because he’s never been on the football team. He also has to argue with his dad about being allowed to join the team when he could possibly accidentally hurt someone. It’s a plotline that should be full of dramatic tension, just like it was a couple seasons ago. When Clark joined the football team. And argued with his dad about being allowed to. Did all the writers go out to lunch and let the kids running the lemonade stand across the street write this story arc? Maybe before they start working on season seven they should actually sit down and watch the other six, because I don’t feel like sitting through another episode where Lana gets sucked into a tornado and nobody can figure out that Amy Acker is eating people.

5) French witches. That’s all I’m going to say about this season. Sometimes there are good ideas and sometimes there are bad ideas. Devoting an entire season to Clark’s battle against French witches is a bad idea.

The end.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

top chef sara m.'s savory tomato bread pudding

A few episodes ago on “Top Chef Miami”, Sara M., one of the contestants, made tiny little savory tomato bread puddings as an appetizer, and they looked delicious. It didn’t win, sadly, because the judges were much more taken with the third serving of beef carpaccio this season, but as a consolation prize they were nice enough to kick off Sweaty Howie. Still, when I watched the episode, the only thing I wanted to eat was one of those bread puddings, and I went to the Bravo! website to find the recipe.

Trouble started right there. The recipe listed is for ten or more people, and I live alone. Also, it called for an inexact amount of bread: three baguettes. Is a baguette the same size everywhere? The baguettes at Food City (home of the claw machine) are two feet long, and I was wary of any recipe that required six feet of bread. Fortunately a nice poster on the Television Without Pity forums explained that s/he had made it and how much bread they used: three two-foot-long baguettes. Knowing that, though, I was able to half the recipe to a much more tolerable one and a half baguettes. I had a half baguette already because I made crostini with herbed cheese and olive tapenade last weekend, so I really only had to buy one.

The recipe said you had to finely dice the baguette. This sounded easy until I tried it.

diced baguette

It’s really hard to cut round bread into square pieces. Fortunately, by the time I finished the half baguette and started on the whole one, I remembered seeing Sara M. cutting up long strips of bread, and once I starting slicing into strips and then cubes, it was much easier.

finished dicing

After the bread was ready, the recipe said I had to mix milk and tomato paste in the blender. This recipe used a lot of dishes, by the way. The paste and milk mixing didn’t sound gross until I started doing it, blending the milk and slowly adding the paste.

milk and tomato paste

It looked like the most disgusting milkshake ever.

In true “Top Chef” fashion, though, there is a container from the Glad Family of Products sitting in my sink in that picture.

After the tomatoshake was ready, the (halved) recipe called for me to add three cloves of garlic and a finely diced quarter of “a large red onion” until “translucent”. Now, I know what “translucent” means; it’s in between “clear” and “opaque”. I have no idea what it means in relation to food, though, so I decided to just cook the hell out of it. Sorry, sauté the hell out of it.

onion and garlic

My finely diced onion came out a hell of a lot better than Casey’s did during the “Restaurant Wars” episode, by the way.

After the cream was added, I mixed it with the tomatoshake and five whole eggs (I broke the yolks before pouring in, so it would be easier to mix) in a large bowl. It looked like vomit, a large bowl of orange vomit.

it looks gross

It looked even more like vomit when the bread was added.

even grosser

Even worse, I decided that the easiest way to mix it and be sure it got all the way through without breaking the bread down too much was to do it with my hands. This left them covered in sticky, tomato-smelling orange slime, and I had to turn the sink on with my elbow to wash them off. While the bread was resting? sitting? absorbing? congealing? for 45 minutes I got to work on the basil cream that goes on top. Unlike Sara M.’s, mine was think and clumpy.

basil cream

This might be because I didn’t push it through a tanis, like the recipe said, but that might be because I don’t own a tanis or know what it is. Either way, hers looked kind of liquidy and mine kept the consistency of frosting no matter how much I beat it. I guess I need that tanis after all.

Rather than put it in a muffin tin, like Sara M. did, I used a baking dish, and made it as one big batch that I just cup up when it was done, like portioning a lasagne. I did my best to drop my globs of basil cream evenly over the top, but some of it got bigger globs than others. Still, I think it turned out pretty well.

finished tomato bread pudding

It was even better reheated in the oven today.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

August and everything after

When you work in housing, August is the time of year when you pretty much disappear. There’s training and opening and kids moving in and angry parents and last minute crap and then by the end of the month it finally starts to slow down, and I stop coming in dead tired every day and have time to sit down and update this.

So, the highlights:

1) I did a lot of work. This included staying late four or five nights a week to call people, do last minute contracting, and fill every space we have.

2) I saw the band, while they were in band camp. They marched through campus during move in weekend, and then afterward they went back to the football field and the band director cut all the kids who didn’t make it.

front line




It’s nice that their parents get to see them in the band at least one time, and take pictures of them marching and stuff, but it also seems sort of cruel to make them practice for days and days during a heat wave and then march down hot pavement before you decide to let them know that they’re not good enough after all.

3) I had a tiny accident with hair clippers. I usually cut my own hair, but my clippers are getting pretty dull, and I pressed down too hard trying to get a stray patch and ended up with a big dig in my hairline. The only way to fix it was to take my razor and cut my head all the way down to the skin.


The stubble is growing in pretty quickly, but for a couple days it was really weird touching skin on the top of my head. It has a strange, kind of rubbery texture, and the day I did it my scalp was almost waxy. After a couple showers my head felt normal again, and then the hair started growing in. Now it’s just fun to sit and rub while I’m stuck at red lights.

4) I went to a home football game. I’ll be at most of them, because I signed up to help take tickets at the student gates. Campus on game day is pretty much one giant party.

game day rock

tailgating tents

It’s weird that everyone shops for their tailgating tents at the same store.

5) I learned that there are different days of the week here.

Thank God it's... Fraday?

Thank God it’s Fraday.