Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Perils of “Free” Internet

There is the old adage of “you get what you pay for,” which seems to be doubly true for any sort of place offering “free” Internet access. For whatever reason, all of the coffee shops near me that advertise access, it’s really nothing but a cruel joke. Their sign should instead say, “We will tease you by seemingly offering an Internet connection but you will not actually be able to get anything done.” (That’s a lot of words for a sign, I know, but with The Economy the way it is right now, I’m sure you can get a deal.)

At first, I thought this was just because there was a bunch of people trying to get access to the Internet, like I am. But I’ve also been at these shops when no one else is there, because I’m a weird nomad that works at all hours of the day, and no dice. The popularity of the place seemed to have no effect on the Internet connection – Even when empty, Panera in Wakefield still has incredibly horrible access that works for, at most, about five minutes.

Making things worse is that many portions of South County also have shitty cell phone access. I have this nifty wireless aircard for work, which gives me web access via cell phone signals. As a result, I’m hoping acres and acres of farmland here is devoted to cell phone towers, because I’m getting annoyed that just checking my Facebook takes about five minutes at Brewed Awakenings.

On some completely random notes, I made some Shake and Bake chicken last night – it came out awesome. Just thought y’all would like to know. Also, poor Chris Jericho. Why couldn’t he have won the Royal Rumble? (Since this is a blog, I do feel the need to throw in these two completely random and intensely personal observations.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Excuse Me While I Talk About Wrestling

My one vice, even more so than listening to Lisa Loeb, remains professional wrestling. Yes, I still watch Raw every Monday night, and I’ll even tune in to TNA Impact if I feel like hurting my brain, and if something better (Archer, Always Sunny, most of NBC’s Thursday night lineup) isn’t on.

And my favorite pro wrestling event each year is always the Royal Rumble, and the rumble match itself. For those of you uninterested in pro wrestling, let me go on in GREAT detail about this!

The rumble match itself consists of 30 superstars fight in an over-the-top battle royal for a title shot at Wrestlemania. Two superstars start off, one-on-one, and every 90 to 120 seconds (it varies depending on the year), a new wrestler is thrown into the mix.

Basically, the match serves as a sort of poo-poo platter of wrestling. Most everyone in the match gets a chance to get some offense in, and because there are 29 eliminations, you get plenty of drama and storylines created and furthered by what happens in the rumble.

Today’s match, on paper, figures to be a bit ho-hum. My favorite wrestler, Chris Jericho, just returned to action this month, and the rumble will be his first actual match back. ([Right] Him in his over-the-top, fan pleasing persona right now.) He’s one of the favorites to win because he’s one of the few major WWE wrestlers lacking a regular feud right this second. Meaning, him winning would automatically propel him into a major angle / storyline.

For whatever reason, the best rumble of all-time, the 1992 edition, is available on YouTube in its entirety. Yes, it is totally 1990s wrestling, but if you like wrestling at all then you should be a big fan of the action. Plus, it has Bobby Heenan at his peak on the microphone! And Ric Flair! (If you want some awesomeness from both, skip ahead to about 9:15 in the match for his entrance, and 33:30 for the introduction of Roddy Piper.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Steve Can Cook: Burgers

In my continued culinary experimentation, I made a discovery the other week – Ground meat is almost always cheaper than the full or partial cuts.

As a result, I picked up two pounds of ground beef, a pound of ground pork and a pound of ground veal. I mixed up a pound of the beef, the pork and the veal with some salt, pepper and garlic, and I’ll be making burgers with that tonight, once I get home from Brewed Awakenings and some other stops.

However, I used the leftover pound of beef Saturday night for burgers. To prep them, I let them marinate in some lime and chipotle mix overnight, which was probably a mistake – the meat got a bit too soggy, and as a result, I think the patties had problems problem holding together.

Above is an overview of the finished product. I also took the time to toast the buns, but in reflection, this was probably unnecessary. They were Kaiser rolls, so they took a while to toast, and I think they mostly just absorbed the butter taste. Next time, I’ll probably just stick to regular hamburger buns if I’m going to toast something.

I did make one great decision with the meal. See that in the middle? Let’s zoom in a bit:

mmm, That’s Vermont cheddar cheese. I made a very simple stuffed burger, basically splitting the patty into two, inserting a slice of cheese, and then sealing it back up. This was a great success, and I think it would work better next time with some flavored cheese, like jalapeno, as opposed to flavoring the meat, which makes it too soggy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Study of Lesser Beings: Dance Moms

[Right] Averting my eyes from the Always Tragic human condition.

“There is no greater sorrow than to recall happiness in times of misery.”

Filthy Humans, I have recently stumbled upon Programming that I find most illuminating when it comes to explaining your Brutish Psyche. My Current Owner often leaves Me alone for the day – as he should – and I thus have ample opportunity to sample what passes as “Culture” from your Disgusting Brood.

Frankly, the Beasts on this Dance Moms programme intrigues.

At first, my Superior mind boggled at the behavior of the Lummoxes toward their Spawn. Were their vocal chords insufficient to scream and abuse their own children? Why did they feel the need to sublet the Duty to an even larger Lummox?

Then, it struck Me – it was another example of the Sloth of your Filthy Brood. With the Largest Lummox watching over five Spawns, it allowed the other five Smaller Lummoxes to feast. Judging from the size of the Spawns, it also seems like the Smaller Lummoxes were feasting upon their portions.

While these methods of the Lummoxes are Crude and Undignified, I am always in Favor of the Strong preying upon the Weak.

When I was but a Kitten, I was quickly weaned off my mother’s Teat, and these Human Spawns seem to be of at least five or six years. Why, that’s a perfectly appropriate age for them to be foraging amongst the Streets, using their charm to receive free Italian dinners from bistros and to befriend alley cats.

Likewise, the Lummoxes seem uninterested with their Spawn, except when the Spawn can bring baubles of distinction back. Being of Superior Feline stock, my Mother was satisfied with Rodentia and Squirrel pelts, but the Lummoxes instead seem to covet the folly Human materials of gold and silver.

As Crafty as the Lummoxes might think Themselves, I feel that their plan will eventually backfire. For Starters, I find them to be adding too much Fat Girth Mass, as opposed to the lean, supple Mass of a majestic Superior Being. For each pound I gain, an equivalent Human Muscle would be 20 pounds.

Secondly, their Spawns will not always be Spawns. I remember even a brief period of Rebellion against my Mother, and she was quite stern but Fair with a Dignified Being such as myself. With their increased Girth, the Lummoxes will not be able to defend themselves from their more nimble Spawn, much like how the Simians of Congo rose up against the Filthy Diamond-Stealing Humans.

Dante is the cat of Steve. You can follow him on Facebook; he refuses to get a Twitter account, since he does not want to be associated with “filthy avian creatures.”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Steve Can Cook: Steak

So I've finally decided to start cooking at my house again. It's a bit of a chore, since I have a very tiny kitchen, and I don't really like using my oven – It's very close to the wall, so I don't have room to stand in front of it when the door is open. Plus, it is one of those ovens with a pilot light, and it's from roughly 1923.

Because of all of the preceding factors, I finally bought the bullet and got a Foreman grill. Well, to be more precise, I got a fancier, nicer version of a Foreman grill, a clone made by General Electric. You can see a picture of it to the right. Unlike the old Foremans, this has removable plates, which makes the clean-up about a million times easier. It would be about a billion times easier, actually, but I don't have a dishwasher at this place. (This also factors into my laziness when it comes to cooking.)

I got it on Friday night, so I tested it out Saturday after a thorough washing. It actually cooks pretty well! I had a thick cut of London broil, plus another smaller cut that I fileted. While it did really well with the fileted cut, it still did a passable job on the thicker cut. With the older Foreman, it would normally just char and burn the top and bottom layers, and leave the middle uncooked. Not so with this grill.

To the right is my dinner for Sunday night. In lieu of buying a bunch of BBQ and liquid marinades, I rely more on flavor packets, since they just require vegetable oil and vinegar. Saturday's delicious steak dinner was peppercorn, and Sunday is baja citrus. I think that implies a mix of tang and sweet, but the flavor is always somewhat ambiguous until it is cooked into the meat.

Normally, I wouldn't make steak two nights in a row. Unfortunately, I took advantage of a 2-for-1 sale on the steaks, and I didn't notice that the expiration date for them both was Sunday. Thus I find myself in my current dilemma, overdosing on steak.

… Well, I suppose there are worse fates. Bon appetite!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Peach Rings and Other Convenience Store Food

For whatever reason, there is a whole subset of food that only exists at gas stations and convenience stores. A good portion of it is really disgusting crap – you know, like those hot dogs on rollers.

But thanks to my trash compactor stomach, I must confess a guilty pleasure for all of it. The aforementioned hot dogs aren’t my actual favorite, but every couple of months, I just have a craving for hot dogs. I’ll usually buy a few at a gas station as opposed to buying a package of dogs and buns, since they normally go to waste.

(An overlooked negative aspect of living alone is that it’s tough to properly buy food in proper amounts. Hot dogs come in packages of six, with six to eight buns, which means I have to commit to two to three meals of hot dogs in a week. The same goes with salad, or in my case this week, London broil steak. I got two big, beautiful steaks because they were 2-for-1 this week, but I have to freeze one because they’re both a pound and a half each.)

My most recent obsession of the past two years? Peach rings. I don’t know why, but the only place they sell them around here are at Cumberland Farms and other gas stations / convenience stores. Along with things like gummy worms, Sour Patch kids and dried fruit, they exist in their own weird subset of food only sold at gas stations.

I wish the Sweettooth candy store, which the picture at the top comes from, was closer to me, because I’d buy those peach rings all the god damn time. As-is, mmm, maybe getting 100 pounds shipped to me isn’t such a bad idea...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let’s Talk About Glee: Catching Up

Since I haven’t blogged about Glee in a while, well, let’s.

Frankly, I’ve been left cold by much of this season. There has been a decent storyline or two, but for everything I like, I find myself annoyed by other things they’re doing on the show. Let’s start with the bad first, since it’s more on my mind. And a note: Major spoilers on the season-so-far of Glee to follow, obviously, but also a surprisingly amount of swearing.

[Right] To my female readers, this is your one "shirtless male photo" for the year, unless Nathan Fillon is cast in a sequel for Firefly, or something else equally awesome.

- The whole storyline between Puck, Rachel’s mom and Quinn just feels so ick and forced. First off, after showing the emotional maturity of Rachel’s mom at the end of previous seasons, it seems bizarre to have her falling for a high school kid. You basically wiped out all the work you did redeeming her character.

Secondly, they squelched a somewhat promising “Quinn is goth” storyline for a rehash of the same old shit, namely, “Quinn is evil and conniving.” Hey, for once, can’t Quinn just be a decent human being? Glee writers, you’ve already made her stop-and-start with Finn like five times, and give birth to a baby and become the school pariah. It would be nice to have a season where we don’t shit on Quinn.

It’s not like I really craved seeing Quinn as a goth for a half-season. However, it would have been preferable to the current storyline, where she had to be talked out of being a psychopath (framing the mother who adopted her baby) in the final episode.

- All of the political storylines feel forced. No, I don’t believe that Sue Sylvester could win a political campaign on the idea of eliminating arts funding. Yes, I do think people actually in the heartland should be pissed that the show is constantly portraying McKinely as the home of ignorant brutes just one step above fascists in terms of understanding.

Even worse, the whole thing lessened my liking of one of the show’s best characters, Kurt’s dad. He’s awesome as the seemingly-dull mechanic who’s way more clever and cunning than his son and stepson give him credit for. Now that he’s been elected to office, I’m cringing in anticipation of those storylines.

- Speaking of Sue Sylvester, Jane Lynch is awesome, but they need to find something for her to do. Like Quinn, I think it’s time they finally retired her over-the-top evil persona. You can stop having her be openly hostile of the Glee club, and find other things for her to rail about in the school. Find some new villains for the show, please.

- Anything involving Rachel and Finn makes me fast forward. Thanks to all the previous seasons of dicking around, I frankly don’t care that much about either one. The same goes for anything with Mr. Shue and Emma, who’s romance has morphed from “Will they or won’t they?” to “Start humping, or get the fuck off my television already!”

(And a warning to all you fans of Blaine and Kurt: They’re next. Brace yourself for plenty of episodes where Kurt suspects that Blaine is cheating on him with that new guy, and he’s not, but Kurt’s suspicions finally force Blaine into the arms of another man.)

So, what did I like? A rough list:

- Brittany continues to be a delight. And while I didn’t completely love how they handled Santana’s coming out, it went better than I expected it would when I first heard that’s what they were doing this half-season. She is the one straight-up “evil” character on the show that I haven’t gotten completely sick of yet.

- The plot involving Mike Chang and the acceptance of his father was nicely done. Sure, it ended predictably, but predictable is nice every once in a while. I also like that he and Tina are actually still together, a rarity for Glee.

- The songs and dance numbers are still very good to me. There is at least one song per episode that makes its way on to my iTunes list for repeated listening.

So, that’s that for now. I’ll be back to providing reviews of the show, once we’re back to live episodes. (Maybe I’ll let Dante review an episode or two, as well.)

The Glee photo at the top is from here. The photo of Puck is from here. And the photo of Britt and Santana is from here, where it tells you where to buy her shirt.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

At The Commercials: The Two-Timing Commercial Girl, The Sequel!

In the past, I've written about how I dislike when one actress (or actor) is in multiple commercials for different products. But yet, they persist! I guess I don't have as much pull in Hollywood as I thought.

The latest offender is Jama Williamson. First off: I wonder if she's friendly with Jayma Mays from Glee. Their names are somewhat similar, so they got that in common right there.

But on-point, she is in the above holiday commercial for Best Buy. Contrary to the blog I found this YouTube link on, I actually find her a bit charming in this commercial:

When I first saw it, I was like, “Wow! She is WAY too young to be portraying a mom. That girl is like 20.” Then I actually looked her up on IMDB, and yikes, she’s 37. (Hopefully she would be flattered by my reaction, even though she actually does have some babies, apparently.)

However, Jama isn’t just in that Best Buy commercial. Lately, I’ve also seen her in a commercial for Crystal Light! In that one, she’s gabbing with a friend on a plane about swimsuits.

Again, it’s actually a pretty decent commercial – I’d expect someone who did a good guest stint on Parks and Recreation to have good luck when slumming for commercial work.

But the entire time it runs, all I think is, “Hey you were just tricking Santa! Where are your kids now? Why and where are you flying on business? How can you abandon them for 60 hours a week? Why is your friend tarting it up so much, and how come we don’t actually get to see her in a bikini???”

The photo of Jama is from TV Rage.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Steps for Shedding Your Disgusting, Slovenly Pounds

[Right] Myself, at a Majestic 18 pounds. My Bust would make Katy Perry and Sofia Vergara envious.

“If the present world go astray, the cause is in you, in you it is to be sought.”

Filthy Humans, I have been asked if I have any Resolutions for this coming year. From absorbing what I have about your Customs, I understand Resolutioning is quite popular with your miserable species.

However, Felines mature faster than Filthy Humans – Although I am 17 in “conventional” Human Years, my actual wisdom is 88 years. When you are a Feline, each new day represents an Opportunity for reflection and advancement, and the only Resolutions made are those against sloth and envy.

[Right] A much slimmer 8 pounds - Just call me H.A.M.

When I decided to shed my excess girth, I simply did so. You can use the Rodent on your computer to click the above two pictures of my Glorious Body. (Truth: A Filthy Human songwriter once penned that my body is a wonderland, a rare moment of Understanding and Perception on the part of your species.)

In a little more than one human year, I shed 11 pounds, moving from a rotund 18 pounds to a svelte seven. To be fair, I looked like a Sexy Beast at both weights, but I must admit that a slimmer countenance is easier to maintain in the arid summer months.

Because I realize that Filthy Humans are not as adept at shedding mass, I will offer these tips, simply because I am feeling peckish:

Stick to the major food groups: Tuna, Ocean Whitefish, Turkey, Chicken and Supper Supreme. My Current Owner has little in the way of common sense, decorum, quick-wit manners, intelligence, looks, moral integrity, class, style, courage, ingenuity, creativity, subtly, nerve, resources, fortitude or cunning, and an abundance of lethargy, incoherence, sloth, insecurities, envy, gloom, tyranny, jealousy, perversion and cowardice. However, he is sufficient at providing me food.

A liquid or semi-liquid diet is the best for a fluid mind, and digestive track. If my Current Owner does not provide me with food of a Liquid nature, I simply do not remove myself from my Fleece Lair. I have trained him to properly cut and wet my food so that it may whet my appetite.

Frequently purge your nethers. I find a good rule of Paw is to visit the Waste Box at least 15 to 20 times a day. Remember, your Current Owner exists to service you – a well-trained Owner will delight in cleaning your Waste Box, whether it is full of Litter, or one of the White Waste Monsters that Filthy Humans seem to favor.

Exercise as little as possible. Any time spent exercising could be better spent taking an afternoon Respite. Exercising is a Scheme by Filthy, Sweaty Humans to sell more Shake Weights and Jack Racks.

Dante is the cat of Steve. You can follow him on Facebook; he refuses to get a Twitter account, since he does not want to be associated with “filthy avian creatures.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This Picture Sums Up Why The Match Game Is Still Awesome


Because, you see, comedy runs in circles to an extent. However, some things are always funny, whether you watch them in 1972 or 2012.

I have my DVR setup to record every episode of The Match Game for instances like this. I'm not even sure who that celebrity is - I could have sworn they said it was Jack Palance, but I can't find any reference to him being on the show. It could also be Jack Klugman, the husband of regular panelist Brett Somers.

The show combined several elements key to comedy. Let me provide a theorem or equation (proofs were never my strong point): Lots of alcohol + corny host (Gene Rayburn) + over the top "flowery" man that isn't gay because this is 1970 (Charles Nelson Reilly) + actually funny female comedian (Betty White or Fannie Flagg) + bimbo interaction (Dick Dawson hitting on the Hottie of the Day to his left, like Adrienne Barbeau) = comedy perfection.

Every couple of years, they try to revive The Match Game, but the mix is always wrong. For one thing, they tend to favor names over people that are just kind of funny. A proper version of the show wouldn't really have that many big names; the names would become bigger because the people would establish themselves with outlandish behavior on the show.

My cast pitch: Dave Dameshek (bombastic and little-known radio guy), Betty White (old standby, seemingly does not turn down a paycheck), Kat Dennings or Kristen Bell (always funny on late night shows, probably wouldn't mind slumming it), and Patrick Warburton (great voice, doesn't seem to turn down a paycheck). That gives you four stable people, plus two spots to rotate, maybe three, since I imagine Dennings/Bell would be off quite a bit for other things. I would also love to have Norm MacDonald on as much as possible, but hey, that is true for any show on television.

That cast would never, ever happen, I know, because TV executives would probably want to cast it with retreads. ("This is going to be that big comeback vehicle for Fran Drescher, trust me baby!") However, including Kat Dennings in the previous paragraph gives me an excuse to run a photo of her, which is always good times.

(Kat Dennings photos is from here, by the way.)


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