Saturday, August 25, 2007

Castro Dead?

Not At All A Bad Thing...IF It's True

I have to admit that I'm not on the ball right now with my Internet news reading, but one of my blog Idols down in Miami, Val over at Babalu Blog, has it on pretty good authority that Fidel Castro has finally decided to take the eternal dirt nap.

Of course the lamestream media is hesitant to report on the potential demise of the originator of the greatest government run health care system in the entire world. Even FOX news hasn't mentioned it (the rumor) in the past half hour.

I was born about the time this useless bastard took the reins down in Cuba, and for all of my life I've looked at the map and flown over the country in an airliner wishing that I could visit one day.

If it's true, I'll be on one of the first planes heading down there later this winter looking for some good cigars and the opportunity to visit the place that Hemingway called home for part of his life.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, August 24, 2007

24 Hours To Pizza Night

Simple Pleasures For Simple Minds...

Needless to say that I've had a less than optimal week here, with most everyone that owes me money telling me why they haven't paid me or why they won't pay me what they owe me.

Then there is the problem with the ones that I owe clamoring for more that I actually owe. Even the water company has to get a presidential pardon issued to explain the six thousand gallons of water that escaped when the thieves ran off with my rental property's copper water lines a few weeks ago.

Finally, there is some other personal crap that's going on that isn't worth mentioning or writing about that won't end the world, but all the same it has managed to get in the way of a a good deal of productive time and caused my normal bitching and complaining attitude to sink into an un-presentable funk.

Thank GOD it's Friday and tomorrow night is PIZZA NIGHT...

I'm going out for dinner, then I think that I'll come home and start bitching again.

Get ready for a good rant or two...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

If You Can't Say Nuthin' Nice (Or At least Intelligent)

Don't Say Nuthin' At All...

Sorry, but I'm taking my own advice right now.

Later, Y'all

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

PVC Pyramids

Plastic & Spandex Is Faster Than Stone...

I've spent part of the past week finishing up my design for the "Pyramid's of Egypt" prop for the Glynn Academy Marching Band's halftime show this season.

Thankfully, by both attrition and executive decision, the scope of my responsibilities was reduced by at least two thirds.

By last week the only thing left in the plan was a giant fabric covered Pyramid that would be constructed in three parts and moved onto and off of the field at each game.

The original 10' diagonal size produced a wimpy looking diminutive structure, so last weekend the band director gave me the go ahead to increase things by 50%.

Right now I'm stumbling around my driveway with 24 ten foot lengths of 1-1/2" PVC and a couple dozen elbows and tees trying to assemble my Egyptian vision in time for band practice at 3 PM this afternoon.

Then I have to beat a couple of delinquent female band parents into compliance in order to get 30 yards of 60" wide tan spandex sewn together in time for the August 31 opening game.

I wish I had a few thousand slaves to help me, but the Gatorade costs and toilet facilities are probably beyond my means.

Photos of King Virgil III's Tomb available shortly...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lethargy Setting In

Somebody Poke Me With A Cattle Prod...

Today I did something I haven't done in a few years.

I cleaned out and organized my new garage.

I know that there are some of you out there which are green with envy, and some want me to stop by and do the same to their garage.

Fat Chance...

When I thought about it, I was surprised to realize how long it had been. I've been living in condos and on boats for most of the past 13 years, so the best I've usually had is a carport to shield my four wheeled conveyances from the elements.

Now once again I have a room with a giant overhead door full of washers, dryers, freezers, air compressors, boxes full of tools and construction supplies, and the obligatory garage "stuff."

Everything but an actual Automobile is in my garage as I write, and that is because I don't think that there is room because of all of the other stuff we have crammed in there.

That's OK...I feel so totally suburban and complete now.

Any way...I admit that my writing has been totally sucking the past few months with virtually nothing happening here on the blogs (other than keeping some sort of public diary,) and both books are at a total standstill.

I tripped over a two inch thick draft copy of the cookbook while unpacking during the move and it made me feel guilty. It has also forced me to start posting a few new recipes over at The Redneck Gourmet.

I guess that I have a hard time partitioning up my days to include physical labor like working on the duplex and then have the mental stamina to write intelligent or glib or humorous rants like I have done some of the time in the past.

Maybe I should just go back to being a virtual homeless unemployed slob and drag my computer around with me to places like Starbucks and other Internet hotspots and see if I can get some quality writing done. Even McDonalds has free Internet here on our little Island.

I had a publisher interested in the cookbook back a couple of years ago, but he's probably died or started selling real estate while waiting for me to submit a couple of chapters of edited manuscript.

He also told me that I should plan on getting some fantastic pictures of my food because pictures sell cookbooks, especially "coffee table" type cookbooks that people that never actually cook will drop $25 on at Barns & Noble. The only problem is that my cookbook is written with slobby middle aged divorced men in mind--guys that would starve to death eating Spam and Cheetos and would never get a second date with a decent woman if they tried to cook on their first date.

Instead of hiring a professional food photographer, I got a nice expensive camera and began a two year diversion fooling around with photography and entering photo contests rather than writing about cooking.

Now I've realized that taking publication quality pictures of food found sitting on your kitchen cabinet, dining room table, or on your stovetop with crappy fluorescent lighting or a single 100 watt bulb is next to impossible.

It was still a fun diversion in the end, and I do have some lovely pictures of my dog and my foot and some sunrises here on the Georgia Coast.

Over the years I've written some pretty serious stuff here on this blog, particularly back just before and right after the 2004 election. I like to think of myself as something other than a partisan hack, although I tend to vote with the Republicans most of the time because the Libertarians can't seem to field any serious candidates on the national political stage.

Writing about politics tends to either bore people to death else make them to try to find out where you live and come to your house to smear you with animal blood or stomp around on your car hood.

Thus I try to pick my topics carefully and then do a good deal of research before I place the first finger on the keyboard.

Still, I always love to pick on the "professional media", and a commenter who calls hinself/herself "Sommelier" and who is apparently a long term reader called me out this past week about something I wrote without knowing the real detailed facts.

Here's what they said:

I don't know where you get your statistics on media professionals, but I'm certain they are not even remotely accurate. You continually bash the "professional" media, yet you previously stated a "personal" dream that entailed working at a newspaper as a "professional" journalist. Sorry, pal, all your ranting appears nothing more than sour grapes.

And here's the passage I wrote that my reader is referencing from last Friday's posting:

As usual, the "professional" media is freaking out about the usual stupid things.

Things like hurricanes, the stock market, the housing bubble, and trapped coal miners.

I have to admit that I'm having a good deal of trouble lifting a finger and pointing it toward a keyboard to even offer an intelligent rebuttal. What can I say anyway?

The media is populated largely by the bottom 25% of each class of high school graduates and college freshmen that ended up in Journalism by default after they flunked out of the Music department because they couldn't play an instrument or carry a tune in a bucket singing.

On second thought, that assessment was probably unfair AND inaccurate, but in my defense it was written somewhat tongue in cheek if you followed the entire context of what I was saying.

Still, I offer my apology to anyone who is a journalist, is in Journalism school, or whose child or other family member or friend is a professional in the industry.

(Now I'm gonna probably piss Sommelier off again...)

In my defense, I just can't help myself sometimes because the product produced by the professional media SUCKS so badly so much of the time.

If Columbia University--a place recognized as having one of the best journalism programs in the country; a place that only accepts about 9% of their freshman applicants; a place that has graduates living and working in the highest positions of the print and "legacy" media--can't give the public graduates that produce a quality, unbiased, fact based product telling us what is ACTUALLY happening out there in the world rather than disguising EDITORIAL COMMENTARY published as substantial portions of each and every news story, then I feel obligated to take shots at them whenever I can.

By the way, if you went to the local Junior College to get your Journalism classes then I expect the same standards for your product also.


Who What When Where.

Let me decide the rest for myself.

And yes, I have said that I aspire to write as a published writer, possibly in the news field, and NO I should not resort to generalities and "cheep shots" else I'm no better than those I criticize.


I'll close by offering this analogy.

If the men and women working in the field of Engineering (something that I do know a great deal about and have a four year college education in) were to as a group consciously elect to perform their jobs in the same manner and with the same accuracy as many (but not all) of those working as journalists, we'd have Delta airliners falling out of the sky and Ocean Liners sinking to the bottom of the Seas on a daily basis.

Further, I'd never drive a new car across a concrete bridge ever again in my life and in fact, I'd be afraid to put a piece of bread in a toaster or Nuke a bag of Microwave popcorn for fear of having the house burn down or what little brains I have left in my head zapped with radiation.

How's that for an accurate generalization?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pizza Revelation

A Saturday Night Tradition

After doing virtually nothing all day today (as opposed to getting virtually nothing done), I fired up the new oven and worked on my thin crust pizza recipe. The solution is coming along nicely, and I feel good enough about things to publish it for public consumption.

Here's what you need to make a nice 15" thin crust pizza...

For the starter dough:

1/4 cup of 110 degree F water
1 pack of yeast

3/4 cup of flour

For the main dough:

3/4 cup of room temperature water

1-1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of sugar

Toppings (add or subtract as you like, but you really should try this combo unless something on the list gives you hives or makes your spleen rupture or something...):

olive oil

1 pound whole milk mozzarella cheese, cut into little blobs and evenly distributed
Enough pepperoni slices to cover the affected area
Four (4) strips of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1 small chicken breast half--pan seared to about 140 degrees F
A couple of hand fulls of baby spinach leaves
Fresh sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup of diced colored bell peppers (I used orange, Red, AND Yellow)
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1 small can of sliced black olives
6 oz of crumbled feta cheese (put it right on top of everything when you're finished)

First things first.

Put your yeast in the warm water, stir it up well, and let is sit for about fifteen minutes.

Once you have a bunch of hungry yeast breasties, howling for something to eat, dump your yeast/water mixture into your 3/4 cup of starter flour, stir it up to form a blob of dough, cover it with a clean dishtowel, and walk away and ignore it while it rises for a half hour or so.

Make yourself a nice glass of iced tea or open a beer and watch TV while you wait.

Now here's the difference between thick and thin crust...

You DON'T do a secondary rise on the dough. It's just that simple.

You dump your 3/4 cup of water into your starter dough to dilute, stir it all up, then pour it into a medium mixing bowl with your flour, salt, and sugar mixture.

Stir, stir, stir.

Do you have a stiff, yet slightly wet dough mixture yet?


Then add a LITTLE flour or water until you get it right, then dump it all out onto a floured surface and start working it over with your hands.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F.

Now the idea is to incorporate some more flour into the slightly wet dough, ending up with extra on the outside surfaces as you begin to flatten it out to form a crust. After two or three minutes of kneading, break out your rolling pin and roll things out to a nice uniform disk about 18" in diameter and 1/4" to 3/8" thick (I use a 15" pizza stone to cook on.)

When you're finished rolling, pick up your crust and carefully place it on your pan or stone (dusted well with flour), then fold and pinch the extra 1-1/2" of dough over around the edges to form a rim on the crust.

Next spoon out some olive oil (a table spoon or two) onto the middle of your masterpiece and smear it around the area inside the rim, then add your cheese, meat, and veggies, toss the whole thing into the oven for 17 to 20 minutes (depending on your oven), pull it out and let it cool a little, cut it into slices, then grab yourself a napkin and EAT.

I swear that there is a chemical reaction in my recipe that has the same effect of a sleeping pill, because I'm usually asleep within thirty minutes after eating my deluxe homemade pizza, regardless of the crust thickness.

My little Missy, the Turbo Pup, likes her pizza crust pretty well also, and tonight she ate her fill sitting there along with the rest of the family.

Life's good here on our little island...hope that the same is true for you.