Friday, November 30, 2007


I could feel a cold coming on from Tuesday night. Fortunately, I'd frozen the wings from my Thanksgiving turkey, so I was able to work the cure.

Wings into the stock pot covered with water at a low simmer for 8 hours. Added carrot as that's all I have, veg-wise.

Removed wings, separated meat (little flavor, but good for protein), added some chicken stock to the pot, brought to simmer again, added noodles, added turkey back in. Lunch.

First Year Out

Oh man, what a disturbing story.

Free and Uneasy: The First Year Out

Haunting presentation of a man's life during his first year after his wrongful conviction was overturned. (about 5 minutes)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Top Ten Deep Movies

"Top Ten" is my code phrase for favorites. That is, someone might ask me what my favorite movie is, and I'll counter with an offer for my top ten. Then give a list with way more than ten entries. 'Cause that's how I roll.

Top Ten Favorite "Deep" Movies
American Beauty
This used to be on my "guilty pleasures" list because of all the naked high school girls, but someone pointed out that the movie is about more than that. The plastic bag scene! The dream sequences!

Apocalypse Now
"The horror! The horror!" Vietnam movie adaptation of Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" Storytelling, characters, cinematography... This movie has it all. Watch for the guy who gets a single line in the movie: "With -extreme- prejudice."

Bob Roberts
A fake documentary featuring Tim Robbins as a right-wing, folk-singing political candidate. Not-so-stealth lefty movie that delivers it's message with a subtle, non-strident touch.

Chasing Amy
Possibly Kevin Smith's best movie. Amazing writer of dialog. And I'm a huge fan of Jason Lee, even if I never watch "My Name is Earl." And it's a Criterion edition. If I remember correctly, the director's commentary is great.

Not quite a caper movie. Not quite a gambling movie. Amazing storytelling. And it features Clive Owen, one of my favorite actors.

Donnie Darko
RyanH assures me that the directors cut is not the one to get. Jake Gyllenhaal is terrific. Watch for "Head Over Heels," the song by Tears for Fears. And the Gary Jules version of "Mad World." Now that I think of it, the songs used in the movie are amazing, though they're not all on the soundtrack.

"Searching for Bobbie Fischer.... In the Hood!" That the "essence in a quote" based on the trailer, but doesn't actually have anything to do with the movie. A boy involved the drug trade for two different gangs has to work his way out of a crisis using the lessons which some of his absent father taught him. Sam Jackson made a good choice to be the supporting role of the father. This is a "With An H" top 5 selection.

Fight Club
Ed Norton's character has a life crisis. Tyler Durden: Now, a question of etiquette - as I pass, do I give you the ass or the crotch?"

Fog of War
Robert McNamara was Kennedy's Secretary of Defense. It combines the lessons he learned about war with an autobiographical narrative. Topical in that his lessons were selected before the current Gulf conflict, but seem to have been un-learned.

Glengarry Glen Ross
Best use of the word "fuck." (previously)

L.A. Confidential
An amazing adaptation of an amazing book. The book spans years, while the movie spans weeks, but it's so tightly written, so well acted, so masterful. A "With-An-H" Top 5 selection

Lost in Translation
Sofia Coppola is an amazing film-maker, specializing in mood. A terrific role for Bill Murray. And Scarlett Johansson is in it.

How can one describe this movie? More than three plot lines. A move where Tom Cruise is a supporting actor. A movie where there are two of everything: wiz-kids, fathers dying of cancer, etc.

I don't really remember this movie.

Miller's Crossing
With-An-H Top 5 selection. Irish vs. Italian organized crime during the prohibition era. Gabriel Byrne at his best. My bro says he finally watched this movie and loved it. Suck-up. :-)

Open Your Eyes
The ending is a little sci-fi, but it's so ... moody!

Reservoir Dogs
I hated it the first time I saw it. The second time, after seeing Pulp Fiction, I loved it. Some of the best dialog in film has sprung from the mind of Tarantino.

Requiem for a Dream
Best heroin movie? Nah, best addiction movie ever!

The Royal Tenenbaums
Criterion Collection! Wes Anderson!

Seven Samurai
Criterion Collection! See it instead of The Magnificent Seven.

Silence of the Lambs
"Hello Clarice...." Best police procedural, serial killer, super-villain movie ever!

Taxi Driver
After the first time I saw it, I remember thinking, "It would take a real weirdo to love that movie." I wasn't wrong.

"Choose life." Best heroin movie ever?

So what did I forget?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Blogging Thanksgiving Part 8

I spend the morning back-tracking my cooking time requirements. I need to pre-heat the oven at 1:30 and put the turkey in at 1:45 to make my 4:30 serving time. I call my sis at 1:25 to preheat the oven. At 1:45, I'm just leaving my apartment complex. I get the turkey in the oven, breast down at 2:08.

I spend some of the next 45 minutes doing geek things. I've brought my laptop with me to blog the event, but that doesn't happen. However, I do respond to email: Jana tells me she's 30 minutes behind. I do the math and tell her I'm 23 minutes behind. I set up my cooking time line as a spreadsheet on Google Docs, making each oven-based event take place a certain number of minutes after the previous event. That way, I can just adjust when I actually do things, like put the turkey in, and see how that affects everything else I need to do (and to get an idea of when dinner will be).

So geeky.

An inspection reveals we don't have enough chairs. I run home to get some folding chairs, and return to find the Remy clan has arrived. Ghene and Romina follow later on.

Flip the turkey breast side up. Take dressing out of fridge to warm to room temp. Take turkey's thigh temp. Uh oh. 141 with 15 minutes to go. 30 minutes later, it's 145. The breast is already over 170, and I act to save my white meat. I take out the turkey, carve the breasts off, covering them, flip the bird over, dark meat up, and stick it back in.

It comes up to temperature in another 30 minutes, and I remove it to rest. Dressing into oven. Rolls come out of freezer and Jana puts them onto cookie sheets. I warm the gravy, and with Jana's help, strain the pan drippings into it. Veg goes back into the roasting pan for de-glazing with broth and wine. Reduce, and strain into a bowl for flavoring of gravy. Jana de-fats it for me, and then whisks the gravy for me for the next 30 minutes or so. It thickens. Dressing browns. I begin to carve turkey to serve it. Breast is still juicy, thank goodness. But not as juicy as it would have been 5 degrees sooner. Wish I knew how to fix that. Longer time breast down?

Cassidy and Charlie show up. Now it's a party! Oliver rolls in. Now it's really a party.

Dressing comes out and rolls go in. Rolls finish and I call people for dinner. They ignore me and continue to watch Harry Potter. The food's getting cold. I realize why my mother hates that box. It competes for attention with dinner.

Oliver brings two potato mashes, Sachi does cornbread and a cool quinoa pilaf. Sweet potato chips, salad, it starts to blur together...

I have to say that the gravy kicks some serious ass. I mean, it's maybe the best gravy I've ever had. I think the dressing is OK, but I prefer my mother's cornbread based dressing. I think I'll look for a variation which uses that. The caramelized onion version was better than the straight onion version, but it was overly oily, as I feared it might be. I think that's another effect of white bread instead of corn bread. The bread isn't substantial enough. Perhaps whole wheat bread next time? I'll look into it.

The group hits the "can't eat any more" point, and we take a collective rest. Oliver starts watching the USC game, Sachi and Cassidy start washing dishes, and I start chatting. We start chatting about favorite movies, and no one knows most of mine. I'll try to do a post on them.

Sachi and Cassidy start preparing to watch a movie in the other room, and as part of their prep, start breaking out the desserts. GameBoy asks me if dessert is forthcoming, and I say .... "Yes!"

Pumpkin cheesecake from Cassidy (sooo decadent), Jana's pumpkin pie, guava rolls, and Lemon Lush. Charlie made what we alternately called Lemon Thing and Lemon Lust, and he's stepped out to call his family. We speculate about what's in it for a bit, and he finally returns to confirm lemon pudding, vanilla pudding and a crushed walnut crust. Or something like that. He promises to get us the recipe.

Mmmmmm.... getting sleepy, and so are the guests. Oliver slips out, and the rest filter out. What an awesome night!!!

I finally help Sachi clean up, get the turkey carcass into the stockpot, pack up some food for home, and load the car. We both are stunned that our mother would do this on her own. How, exactly?! Get home and unload the car.

I loved all the food, but I think I'm most thankful for great friends, great conversations, and great company.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Blogging Thanksgiving Part 7

Turkey Day! Feeling energized after a good sleep.

I sample the turkey broth. It tastes amazing! I'm looking forward to tasting the finished gravy.

Turkey out of brine. Rinsed. Patted dry. Air drying in fridge. Cooks says I might get a crispier skin. They also say to do it overnight, not for three hours. Oh well.

Cooks says I can thicken my gravy ahead of time and add pan-drippings at the last minute, so I start my roux. Melt butter, whisk in AP flour. Whisk constantly until roux is nut brown. Reserve some broth for deglazing, and whisk the rest into the roux. Simmer and skim while gravy thickens.

Sample again, and there's a whole new richness and texture (of course). Chill for transport.

Confirm with Sachi about oven use. Try to confirm with Oliver, but don't hear back. Same with Ghene.

Melting butter to top dressing. Only just realized I can do that ahead of time.

Crap, I have one oven. Turkey rests for 30 minutes, while the dressing needs 25 + 15-20. Hmmm.... That might work. I have to be organized. I'll need help.

Dressing cooks at 400 degrees while rolls cook at 375. I think I'll have to put the rolls in as we take the dressing out and start serving.

I feel like I'm forgetting something. Hopefully it'll come to me in the shower.

Conversations I Hate

Here's the text of a conversation I had Tuesday night:

O: Hey, L and J are dating.
Me: Why do people assume that dance partners are going to date? That's not fair to anyone.
O: Well, they changed status on facebook.
Me: That's doesn't mean anything. People put all kinds of stuff on facebook. Our friend A's status is "married" to a gal in a different city. Doesn't make it true.
O: They just kissed.
Me: Dammit! There goes my shot.
O: What?! Aren't you dating someone?
Me: Yes, but I want all attractive women I know to be single as my reserve dating pool.
O: Really?
Me: No, not really. Can we talk about this later? Like, after gym class?
O: Are you saying I'm acting like we're in high school.
Me: Yes.

I get all the best lines when I embellish a true story in the retelling.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blogging Thanksgiving Part 6

Turkey is in the brine (doing the 12 hour brine, or 1/2 cup of table salt per gallon of water; Cooks Illustrated says to discard the liver in my gravy making.

Done. Discarded.

Browned giblets. Add coarse chopped onion, reduce heat, and let the onion start to give up it's liquid. Add chicken stock, parsley, and thyme. Simmer and skim.

The apartment smells of turkey, now.

Strain broth. De-fat. Chill overnight.

John need sleep.

Blogging Thanksgiving Part 5

Note to self: one benefit to home ownership is the ability to have or upgrade to a decent kitchen.

I'm tired of burners my pans sit crookedly on and a shallow sink I can't wash pots in.

I'm going to use this as my main excuse for not cooking from now on.

Blogging Thanksgiving Part 4

Got new yeast and tried to restart my rolls, to no avail. Realized I'd increased the recipe by 50% except for the flour, which I'd doubled. Whoops. Stupid all-night cooking.

Restart the rolls. Carefully do math on 50% increase, but the dough is way too wet. Still batter-like. I slowly add flour until it comes together, and hand knead in the rest. Put it away to rise.

Don't think a single 9 x 13 of dressing is going to do it for the crowd, so I do another batch. Back and forth to the store to get chicken broth, more milk, more onions. 4 trips in 16 hours. Damn.

For the second batch of dressing, I'm doing caramelized onions, which increases the raw onion factor by six. Single good saute pan means I'll have to wait to cook the bacon. De-glazing with some of the broth. Cut bread into cubes before drying them. Duh.

Rolls seem to be rising. Good. 30 month old yeast was certainly a factor.

Caramelized onions are the bomb. I wonder if I should have done it in the bacon grease. That might have made more sense.

Definitely bailing on pumpkin pie. Jana is picking up my slack. Oliver says he's definitely going to do the potato dishes. Oh good.

Got a nice rise on the second try at the rolls. This is a lot of work to replace the Pillsbury. Well, now I know how to do them. Can see why doing it a week or two ahead of time is better. (the recipe discusses how to freeze them). I'm bad at actually forming them into triangular rolls. And making uniform rolls. I split the dough into two sections and the second half goes better than the first. Cover for a second rise.

Saute of second dressing batch has more volume than the first. Caramelized onions? Bigger apples. Which reminds me, peeling the apples was easier the second time around. Repetition and technique. Go figure. Mix in the herbs until they're fragrant, about a minute, then combine with beaten eggs, salt, bacon, and bread cubes. Second batch is in the dish, chilling, ready for transport tomorrow.

Rolls haven't doubled in size, but I'm freezing the second, better formed batch, as they've definitely risen. Moving first batch to the oven to proof in "warm" mode.

Thinking about pulling out that turkey to get the gravy going. Wondering if I'll be able to dance tonight at Strutter's Ball. Quash that thought!

Blogging Thanksgiving Part 3

Not sure what I'm going to do about the rolls. Probably get new yeast, bloom it, mix it into what the existing dough, and see if I can get a rise. Backup plan: second batch of rolls. It wasn't that hard to make them.


Cook 1/2 inch cubed bacon in pan until crisp. Remove bacon, toss all but 6 tablespoons of fat. Saute onions, apples, and celery until translucent. Add thyme, sage, marjoram, and parsley. Toss in mixing bowl with bread cubes, bacon, beaten eggs, and chicken stock. Mix, and turn out into 9 x 13 baking dish.

Wait, 9 x 13? It says feeds 10-13, but it doesn't look like it's enough. Damn. GameBoy and CatGirl better eat light! Just kidding. There's going to be tons of food.

This is getting covered with foil and chilled until Turkey day.

Blogging Thanksgiving Part 2

Next up: Dinner Rolls

Warm milk and sugar in saucepan. Bloom yeast. Add lightly beaten egg. Mix dry ingredients in stand mixer to combine. Slowly add wet. Slowly add softened butter. Remove and knead. Let rise in warm oven.

Wait, why isn't it rising? Oh no, how old is this yeast?

Blogging Thanksgiving Part 1

My mother is out of town this Thanksgiving, visiting distant relatives in northern California, leaving my sibs and I to fend for ourselves. I've cooked Thanksgiving turkey before, so I volunteered to do a repeat performance. The Remys are trekking up from the campus compound, Ghene and Romina are trekking down from Pasadena, Cassidy and Charlie trekking from the new digs in Goat Hill.

My food list:

Cranberry Sauce
Pumpkin Pie
Dinner Rolls

Doing everything from scratch according to Cooks Illustrated recipes. I've clearly bit off more than I can chew, and am compounding it by doing other things, like dancing, instead of working on the menu. The pumpkin pie is the first victim if I'm truly overloaded. Cassidy is bringing pumpkin cheesecake.

Cranberry sauce was easy. Boil water, sugar, salt, and orange zest. Add cranberries and return to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, take off heat when sauce is thickened and 2/3 of cranberries are popped. Add triple sec as sauce cools. Refrigerate. Finished.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Segerstrom Gig

[EDIT: Don't know why I forgot to post this at the time of the event in November. 20080218]

Swing team had a small gig at Segerstrom Hall, the new Orange County Performing Arts Center facility. We were dancing in huge interior entry way while people went from the box office to their seats.

Beautiful marble floor. I went the evenings of 11/15/2007 and 11/16/2007. Michelle was my partner the first night. I brought a fat maroon tie and an old skinny black tie I had from high school (!). Jeremy was wearing the black tie, so I matched. He had team Chuck Taylors on, but I'd left mine in the car. The white Aris Allen's didn't seem to go well with the black pants, and I was concerned about hard leather on marble. I just used my black shoes with rubber soles.

Jeremy's playlist had Jeep Jockey Jump on back-to-back with Big John's Special. Yikes. We took a minute break in between. Michelle and I did our #1 spot solo again. I'm bad at counting out the spots to get back in place for a second spot solo.

Second day, I brought my team shoes, but forgot the inserts. Oops.

Saturday Ride and Dancing

Morning bike ride with P. First time I've been in the saddle since riding Glendora Mountain Road with Ghene. What? I didn't blog that?! That cant' be right... Crap, I really didn't. Too bad. At any rate, 11.5 miles round trip. We were about a mile from the beach, but it's always better to be conservative. As it is, I barely made it to team practice on time.

Poppa P is a cyclist and came to check out my bike. "You're not putting in 100 miles a week?!" I know, I wish I was. He really knows his equipment. Knew immediately why I hadn't upgraded to Dura-Ace ("Maybe if you were a professional, you'd need it!"), and we talked about riding together some time. He spotted my Garmin Edge 305. He rides with a 201, the non-Edge version which doubles as a running watch. I didn't talk to him about cadence riding, but I suspect he's the type who knows about it.

Swing 1 team practice:
I followed for a good bit of Jeep Jockey Jump. Not enough follows. Tiffany showed up late, and I was able to step out. Then step in again for Amanda!

You looked good out there. Your switches were interesting, but otherwise, you looked good. -- Katie

I can do switches, but I wasn't mentally ready. And no, there's no video of that.

Swing 2 practice focused on formation work with traveling swing-outs. Neat stuff. We did Jeep Jockey Jump in a rotating pinwheel, which was awesome! No Jingle Jangle. Hopefully that's pure Swing 3, though it's supposed to be on the December 12th performance schedule...

Friday, November 16, 2007

WGA Strike

Normally, I'm a fan of the Guys With Feelings podcast, but the November 15th 2007 episode was a bit frustrating to listen to. I guess it pushed my buttons a little. Which button? When an opinion I believe is argued badly.

Nash and his buddy Dry Times are discussing the WGA strike and Dry Times states that he doesn't like the strike tactic and kind of sides with the studio position that they'd rather pay writers a flat fee for their work. Nash is completely incapable of arguing his point effectively, re-stating his position that there is "money to be made" on content and that writers should be able to participate in the profit of a venture.

Completely ignored issues:

Writers are selling something important, not just their ideas and creativity, but the copyright to the writing.

Selling a script is not like selling a chair. If someone sells a script idea to a show that gets made, the recipient of the copyright has the ability to sell the show over and over again. Broadcast television and it's advertising revenue. Syndication revenue. Theater sales, in the case of movies. DVD revenue. On-line revenue. Ways of selling content that haven't been dreamed up yet. The original Star Trek series ran in the late 1960's. Today, I can buy the episodes on iTunes.

It isn't as simple as asking writers to accept some kind of up-front deal for their work (get paid a little more at initial sale, but not participate in on-going revenue streams). The reason is that studios have a competing agenda: controlling the up-front costs of a new venture. It doesn't make sense that every pilot episode writer should be paid as if they're writing for Seinfeld. An easy remedy is for writers to be profit participants for every revenue stream that a show generates. That way, up-front costs are controlled, but as a show becomes successful and generates more an more revenue, all the people instrumental in making it a success share in the windfall.

Residuals are better than studios just licensing the copyright of a script for specific media than only exists today and needing to negotiate payment for the rights of every new outlet for them to sell the content.

Found a funny clip from some Daily Show writers:

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Apparently Comedy Central has made every single segment of every episode of The Daily Show available on-line. So here's the banana episode:

Got it from A Look Back at Jon Stewart's Greatest Gay Moments.

SSC 10

Short Shameful Confession:

I canceled my Tivo Season Passes to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Reruns during the WGA strike just don't do it for me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Quick clips, then back to work.

Four Man Plan

I think Renee was the first one to tell me about this. Browsed through it in a bookstore last night (that's right, on a date in the relationship section. Classic John move). There's something I don't like about the generalizations, conclusions about human behavior, and vague manipulativeness. But it's too easy to accept the author's frame.

And she's freakin' hilarious.


Short Shameful Confession:

I had a date last night, and at least one of the reasons I lifted weights before it was vanity. What's worse, I pushed back my sleeve and flexed my right arm at least twice over the course of the evening. I might even have asked whether she liked my arms. Pathetic.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Blind Side: Michael Lewis


The Blind Side: LT
The Blind Side: Bill Walsh

Promotional video for The Blind Side. Author Michael Lewis tells the story of how Michael Oher went from homeless to adopted into a rich, white family. Underlines the fact that this book isn't just about football, but about the emotional and intellectual development which many of us take for granted but is missing from the lives of a large portion of our citizens. And amazingly, 15 isn't too late for a person to start receiving love, attention, and intellectual stimulation.

The Blind Side: Bill Walsh


The Blind Side: LT

Lawrence Taylor's importance as a defensive player was important because NFL quarterbacks were throwing more passes. And the reason they were doing that was coach Bill Walsh.

When [Walsh] arrived in Cincinnati in 1968... to run the passing game for Bengals head coach Paul Brown, he faced a new problem: comically inadequate football players.
His new quarterback, Virgil Carter, was a case in point. Carter wasn't able to get the ball more than about 20 yards downfield in any form other than a slow desperate wobble. Walsh's job, as he saw it, was to create a system that suited Virgil Carter's talents: guile, nimbleness, and an ability to throw accurately, as long as he didn't have to throw far.
Walsh's solution to Carter's weak arm was to teach him to use the field in a new way. He spread the field horizontally; that is, from sideline to sideline. He had the receivers run short routes timed precisely to the steps of the quarterback. If Carter took a three0step drop, they ran one sort of route; if Carter took a five-step drop, they ran another. Carter didn't wait for his receivers to come open but threw to where he expected them to be--usually just a few yards away. The process was further speeded up by reducing the number of decisions the quarterback was forced to make. His presumed precision means that he doesn't need to pay nearly so much attention to the defensive formation. His short, timed passes, if executed properly, can be completed against any defense.
Walsh had created the contraption to compensate for the deficiencies of his quarterback, but an offense based on a lot of short, well-timed parses turned out to offer surprising inherent advantages. First, it delivered the ball into a runner's hands on the other side of the line of scrimmage, thus removing the biggest defensive beasts from the space between him and the goal line.
Next, by shortening -- and timing -- the passing game, Walsh reduced its two biggest risks: interceptions and incompletion.
In 1971, Virgil Carter, who had never completed as many as half of his passes, somehow led the entire league in completion percentage... The next year Carter gave way to Ken Anderson, a little known passer out of even less well known Augustana College, who hadn't completed even half his passes in college. In Walsh's offense, Kenny Anderson did even better than Virgil Carter... In 1974, Anderson led the league in completion percentage and total yards and yards per attempt...
Walsh left Cincinnati... to run the offense for the San Diego Chargers. There he inherited a struggling quarterback named Dan Fouts. In Walsh's passing system, Fouts went on to lead the league in completion percentage.
In 1979, Walsh, now forty-nine years old, finally was named an NFL head coach, of the team with the league's lowest payroll and the league's worst record, the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers also had, by most statistical measures, one of the NFL's worst quarterback, Steve Deberg... the next year, in Bill Walsh's system of well timed passes, the seemingly inept Deberg threw more passes... than any quarterback in the history of the NFL.

Lewis argues that the next two quarterbacks for the 49ers, Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young, owed a huge amount of their success to the Walsh offensive system.

Eventually people must have noticed. As Walsh performed miracle after miracle with his quarterbacks, a more general trend emerged in NFL strategy: away from the run and toward the pass.
This single strand of the history of the game -- the strand that would become the rope tied around Michael Oher's waist and haul hum up in the world -- is clearer than most. Over time, the statistics of NFL quarterbacks, on average, came to resemble the statistics of Bill Walsh's quarterbacks -- because other coaches borrowed heavily from Walsh. The passing game was transformed from a risky business with returns not all that much greater than the running game to a clearly superior way to move the football down the field. As a result, the players most important to the passing game became, relatively, a great deal more valuable. The force that pulled on the rope around Michael Oher's waist was the mind of Bill Walsh.
With the passing game so important in NFL offenses, it becomes easier to understand the impact a genius pass rusher like Lawrence Taylor could have.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Olbermann on Waterboarding

The Blind Side: LT

I don't watch football. I can't say I'm a fan. I've told people for ages that I assume there's an intricate dance going on in the offensive/defensive line that I don't understand or have an appreciation for. A set of skills that, since I've never played the game, I can't see. For months now, I've suspected that Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball, had written a book just for me: The Blind Side.

Lewis's Moneyball gave an inside view on the economics of Major League Baseball by telling the story of Billy Bean's Oakland A's. The Blind Side explains the rise in importance of the Left Tackle through the story of Michael Oher.

And it begins over a year before Oher was born, but in the middle of the story.

From the snap of the ball to the snap of the first bone is closer to four seconds than to five. One Mississippi: The quarterback of the Washington Redskins, Joe Theismann, turns and hands the ball to running back John Riggins. He watches Riggins run two steps forward, turn, and flip the ball back to him...
... Two Mississippi: Thesmann searches for a receiver but instead sees Harry Carson coming straight at him....
... Three Mississippi: Carson now sees that Theismann has the ball. Theismann notices Carson coming straight at him, and so he has time to avoid him. He steps up and to the side and Carson flies right on by and out of th eplay. The play is now 3.5 seconds old.
You don't think of fear as a factor in professional football. You assume that the sort of people who make it to the NFL are immune to the emotion. [...] The head coach of the Giants, Bill Parcells, didn't think it preposterous, however. Parcells... believed that fear played a big role in the game. So did his players. They'd witnessed up close the response of opposing players to their own Lawrence Taylor.
The feelings of those assigned to prevent Taylor from hurting quarterbacks were trivial compared to those of the quarterbacks he wanted to hurt. In Taylor's first season in the NFL, no official records were kept of quarterback sacks. In 1982, after Taylor had transformed the quarterback sack into the turning point of a football game, a new official NFL statistic was born. The record books defined the sack as tackling the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage as he attempts to pass. Taylor offered his own definition: "A sack is when you run up behind somebody who's not watching, he doesn't see you, and you really put your helmet into him. The ball goes fluttering everywhere and the coach comes out and asks the quarterback, 'Are you all right?' That's a sack."
"I don't like to just wrap the quarterback, I really try to make him see seven fingers when they hold up three. I'll drive my helmet into him, or, if I can, I'll bring my arm up over my head and try to axe the sonuvabitch in two. So long as the guy is holding the ball, I intend to hurt him.... If I hit the guy right, I'll hit a nerve and he'll feel electrocuted, he'll forget for a few seconds that he's on the football field."
The game of football evolved and here was one cause of it's evolution, a new kind of athlete doing a new kind of thing. All by himself, Lawrence Taylor altered the environment and forced opposing coaches ans players to adapt.
Parcells became a connoisseur of the central nervous system of opposing quarterbacks. The symptoms induced by his sack-happy linebacker included, but were not restricted to: "intimidation, lack of confidence, quick throws, nervous feet, concentration lapses, wanting to know where Lawrence is all the time." The players on the Giants' defense picked up the same signals. As defensive back Beasley Reece told the New York Times, "I've seen quarterbacks look at Lawrence and forget the snap count." One opposing quarterback, finding himself under the center before the snap and unable to locate Taylor, called a time-out rather than run the play--only to find Taylor standing on the sidelines.
By his fourth pro season Taylor was not just feeding those fears, but feeding off them. "They come to the line of scrimmage and the first thing they do is start looking for me," he said. "I know and they know. When they'd find me they'd start screaming: 56 left! 56 left! [Taylor wore No. 56.] So there's this thing I did. After teh play was over, I'd come up behind them and whisper: don't worry where I am. I'll tell you when I get there."
Four Mississippi: Taylor is coming. From the snap of the ball Theismann has lost sight of him. He doesn't see Taylor carving a wide circle behind his back; he doesn't see Taylor outrun the blocker upfield and then turn back down; and he doesn't see the blocker diving, frantically, at Taylor's ankles. He doesn't see Taylor leap, both arms over his head, and fill the sky behind him. Theismann prides himself on his ability to stand in the pocket and disregard his fear. He thinks this quality is a prerequisite in a successful NFL quarterback. "When a quarterback looks at the rush," he says, "his career is over." Theismann has played in 163 straight games, a record for the Washington Redskins. He's led his team to two Super bowls, and won one. He's thirty-six years old. He's certain he still has a few good years left in him. He's wrong. He has less than half a second.

Next time, the beginning of the story: Bill Walsh and the quarterback

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


JC Penny 1977 Catalog

Damn you MeFi.

I'm pretty sure I owned a belt like that kid in 1977. And I had huge, V-shaped hair.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Saw Lars and the Real Girl on my sister's recommendation. Just mind-blowing. Lars has a delusion. His friends and neighbors go along with it in an attempt to help him.

It could have been so over-the-top, but the acting was first-rate. Total commitment. Subtle.

I still had moments which made me shake with laughter at the absurdity (the school board?!), but even that was handled with subtlety off-camera.

Had a fun exchange afterwards which went pretty late (but how can one walk away from a lively discussion?). Thought I saw John Remy drive by a few times, but it was really late, so probably not. I spent too much time leaning on one knee, so when the party broke up, I had to limp to my car. The weather has been chilly enough recently that I'm actually using the heater in my car! Noticed a couple making out (with abandon) out in the open air under the bright lights of the University Center parking lot. Brrrrrr!!!! But I'm sure they were keeping each other warm.

Briefly wondered if there was such a thing as a geo-tagged Public Displays of Affection photo blog. There's a million dollar idea, right there.


Short Shameful Confession:

I had to stop myself from purchasing jeans which I already have four pairs of.


Short Shameful Confession:

I recently co-opted the story of my freshman year college roommate's drunken escapades as my own.

I've never passed out in a lawn and thrown up green because I was drinking Grasshoppers all night.

Monday, November 5, 2007


From The Cold Bath, a really interesting series of conversations with Mr. Anonymous.

Michael Blieden: There was a girl who, in college, I wanted her so badly. I mean, I just... I, I... For years... And I worked on her, and we became friends, and we got closer and closer... And then this spark developed, and we made out a couple times. And then finally, she came to visit me in New York and ... It could have happened. And in my mind, I thought "Well, after I have an orgasm, then I'm really going to have to engage with this person."

Mr. Anonymous: In fact, this has summed up every man's thinking. That's the phrase that says it.

Blieden: And I sort of did the math in my head of what that afterglow moment was going to be like, and I knew that I would be a million miles away. And at the brink, I just...

Wow. Worked on her for years, THEN I'm really going to have to engage....


Short Shameful Confession:

I just used the word "physicalness" in a serious conversation twice. On purpose.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Bling Part 2

So I was critical of Bling water. Recently, I paid $4 for a liter of water from Voss. The water was good. Yes, better than my Brita. It better taste freaking fantastic to bother shipping it all the way from Norwegia.

But really I bought it for the cool bottle. The 1 L is made of PET, but I paid another $4 for the glass 800 ml one too.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Getting Jiggly and ABD

Went to journeygal's for a Halloween party last Saturday, and was inspired by this best tasting Jell-O shots article to take Jell-O shots. Well that, and the last party of their which I went to which gave me the impression that their crowd appreciates new and interesting drink consumption techniques.

I did some mid-week testing of various recipes. For simplicity's sake, I wanted to limit the flavors of Jell-O I was going to buy. I wanted max variations for my alcohol dollar as well. So after checking out the recipe, I decided to go with cherry and orange Jell-O with Amaretto (tastes like maraschino cherries), Peach Schnapps, and Creme de Cacao (chocolate). I was going for:

Cherry-Creme de Cacao

And for the non-drinkers (or drivers, like me), I did a Cherry-Chocolate version without liquor from Seltzer water and Torani chocolate syrup.

Mid-week experimentation led me to the following recipes:

Base Recipe:
Add packet of Jell-O to 8 oz boiling water
Cool to room temp
Add liquor mixes

The liquor mixes I tested (all with cherry Jell-O):
4 oz Amaretto + 4 oz Vodka - good
4 oz Amaretto + 4 oz Vodka + maraschino cherry - even better
4 oz Creme de Cacao + 4 oz Vodka + maraschino cherry - awesome
4 oz Peach Schnapps + 4 oz Vodka - not great
8 oz Peach Schnapps - much better
8 oz Vodka - not great

So I settled on the Amaretto + vodka, Creme de Cacao + vodka, and peach schapps variations, using maraschino cherries in the non-peach variation.

Lesson Learned: when doing Jell-O shot taste tests, taste and spit out. Not a good mid-week night. I got intoxicated in the not-fun way. Drove waaay past buzz and straight to "holy crap, am I going to die?"
Slight miscalculation on the day of the event. Not enough maraschino cherries. And miscalculated the yield. Used these 2 oz "souffle cups" to portion the shots:

When I put two tablespoons of product in each, I got 30 shots from each double sized Jell-O packet. But I made the mistake of doing one recipe with each packet, which meant 120 shots. Oops. Oh well. Now I know. For next time.

Party was lots of fun. People seemed to have fun with the shots, and no one had too many at once.

No costume for John. :-(

It was a really fun group, not at all wild. Maybe the kiddos calmed us down? If so, they're a good influence. Played some Taboo with them. journygal has some amazing Taboo skills. I don't.

pilgrimgirl won that evening's Ticket-To-Ride "Micronesia Edition" game. She claims it wasn't as fun since those gamers weren't making good strategy decisions. Might have been the effect of alcohol. I was too busy with Taboo, so I couldn't comment.

Nice long conversation about dream recall.

EVH and I stayed waaay too late. I didn't make Meeting the next day. :-)

I woke up late Sunday, didn't make Meeting, but did make the OC Swing series, then went to an Atomic practice for the Hullaballoo performance. Added in See-Saw, which was a shock. Seems like it should be easy (just a variation of Big John's Special), but the music cues are very different.

Ran 90 minutes late to the Quaker Meeting's "All But Dissertation" party. There are 5 or 6 people who are at that stage in the area. Hooray for them. I get there in time to see 3/4 of the Remy clan leave to do homework. I manage to get in, get some casserole, cake, and Apple-to-Apples. Back to Casa de Remy for more Apples-to-Apples and chatting with pilgrimgirl and EVH. Left waaay too late again. :-)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Get a Rope!

Who knew jumping rope was so cool?!

Dancing Roundup, Halloween Performance

Been a while since I focused on swing dancing in this blog (cue the sound of all six people who read this saying "next post...").

I got exposed to a couple cool footwork variations by "Tall John" who's been teaching recently.

Shorty-George Suzie-Q swing-out:
Regular swing-out on 1-4. instead of 5-6, do 5-a-6, turning to the left on 6, and unwinding into a dramatic Shorty-George Suzie-Q on 7-8. Do a second, less dramatic Shorty-George Suzie-Q as 1-2.

Jump-switch swing-out:
Similar to Shorty-George Suzie-Q swing-out through 6 in rhythm. 5-a-6 instead of 5-6. Then jump up to get weight off of feet, but don't let feet actually leave the ground. While the weight is off, do a sliding unwind/switch of the feet. It gives a cool illusory affect of the feet sliding with full weight on them.

The teams did a last minute performance at the Hullaballoo at the OC Fairgrounds. It was a family-friendly Halloween event put on by several area churches. I almost didn't make the first performance. Couldn't get away from work all day to get a Halloween themed tie, and had to stop off on the way down. Nothing in the temporary Halloween store in the Brea Marketplace. Nothing at Sears. Was walking from Sears to JC Pennys to get a brown shirt (I like the Stafford fitted ones they sell there), when I decided to duck into Spencer Gifts. They had a $6 skull and crossbones tie which worked. Tied it during the drive down (horrific traffic). 5 minutes to spare. :-(

The smile belies my tardiness.

Jeep Jockey Jump, almost forgot the A solo. Did the solo with Michelle for Big John's Special, which went fine, though not spectacular. Shim-Sham to the Monster Mash! Too fun. I have problems with the Shim-Sham when people are doing variations in front of me. It's distracting. Then See-Saw. Couldn't hear the music start, and had to catch up on the first circle. Michelle and I did a variation of our solo from Big John's, but I totally blanked on the entrance. Oh well... We didn't get to practice for it.

Oh, our solos:
Big John's Special #1
6-count circle
Chase Shadow entry facing stage left
Shadow push-out
Around the world lead and follow turn
Push-out exit from Shadow

See-Saw #2
Tease-the-girl Shadow entry (double-tuck then spin) facing stage right
Shadow push-out
Around the world lead and follow turn
Push-out exit from Shadow

Jerry asked us about doing the second performance on the concrete since the stage was scarily moving under us. We agree, so an hour later we do it all again at audience level. For the Shim-Sham, we do it in two directions since we're getting people watching from both directions. Some toddlers wanted to join in!

Totally posed, by the way. In no way should you think this is an action shot.

We screwed up our See-Saw solo again. My muscle-memory for the BJS solo betrayed me. We just social-danced for 8 8's and hit the swing-outs in sync with the rest of the group. More practice of the solos at speed!

Then there was some time for camera silliness as we milled around.

There was originally some talk of eating then going to Strutter's Ball. But then we heard the DJ at a distant part of the Hullaballoo play "In the Mood" so we got the brillian idea of Lindy-bombing the dance party. Lindy-bombing just means showing up and dancing lindy. No bombs involved. We missed "In the Mood," but managed to get there for the Electric Slide. Blech. There wasn't a floor, it was just dirt and grass. We made it work. Trisha got us in with the DJ and we performed JJJ and Big John's again. On the dirt. We were missing a solo for Big John's, but Charles stepped up and filled in when we realized what had happened. He's fearless when it comes to solos.

Headed out at 9pm when the event closed. Took a group picture:

Ate at Fridays in Costa Mesa. Fred and I split chicken quesadilla & tosado nachos. We bartered for a portion of fried mac-and-cheese from Krysia. Wow. None of this food is good for you, but it's all tasty.

Michelle and I chatted about some friends who seem to be dating but at the same time pretending not to be. It much more awkward that way for ... well, for me, anyway. I wrote an email explaining that, then discarded it. Not really my business. I mean, what the heck good would it do?

Touchy Subject

I've discussed hugs and touching in the past, but recently had a realization that I have issues with fairly basic touch in a romantic context. I'm not talking about groping here, just basic hand-holding, arm-around-back, arm-around-shoulders stuff. Issues. What do I mean by issues? Well, I guess I never really did enough of it to get comfortable with initiating it. Or if I was ever comfortable, it was so long ago that I've forgotten how.

And in my thrashing over-analysis, I think I've come to some conclusions. I've kind of re-socialized myself over the past few months through swing-dancing. but as I've written before... Well, the first few weeks of dancing really got me detaching touch from eroticism. Dancing requires a lot of touching, and if guys spend all our time thinking about how great it is to handle beautiful women... well, it just comes off as really creepy.

So I've built up all these blocks about touching with romantic intent, and I'm having trouble overcoming them.

I don't know the solution. Practice makes perfect?

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Got this ad when visiting facebook today:

I assume this is targeted. I mean, 30+, large-breasted, white women with blondish hair? It says that right in my freakin' profile!!!


Note to self:

Next year, find someone who is dressed in an angel costume and someone in a devil costume and set up a photo shoot which looks like one is sitting on each of my shoulders.

Hey, a booth which does this would be a good fund-raising technique, wouldn't it?

Greater Irvine vs. Brea

I'm normally a Borders Books and Music guy, but after my 48 Laws of Browsing Bookstores incident, I've been in a few more Barnes and Nobel's. Well, that and the fact that since I'm down in Irvine so often, there are lots of BN's and only one Borders.

I can't say that I've eaten at every single good restaurant in Brea, but I've been to all the local big bookstores. It's been interesting to have friends take me exploring parts of the "greater Irvine" area that I've had such limited exposure to. So, a quick run-down.

Crepe Maker at the Irvine Spectrum
This was just plain yummy. Entree crepes: Raspberry Chicken and Tomato Basil. Raspberry was from jam, which is a good idea. The Gordon Ramsay part of my brain says that a from-scratch raspberry reduction would be better. Are raspberries even in season? The tomato basil was lovely as well. Classic flavor combination. I'm pretty sure the crepes were made ahead of time and re-heated, but don't hold me to that.

By the way, with the new (to me) parking structure at the Spectrum, weekend parking wasn't a big deal. People watching at the Spectrum is fun too. Bath and Body works doesn't sell non-lathering shaving cream. Other random observations? Good place to wander around for a while.

So, back a couple hours later for dessert: I -think- it was Nutty Carmel Apple, which was ... amazing.

Wheel of Life
Vegan restaurant at Culver and Walnut
Started with the Tom Kha Kai, the classic lemongrass, coconut milk, basil soup. Usually with chicken and chicken stock, but clearly not since this is a vegan restaurant. Faux meat and veg stock. This was amazing, not too oily, which is usually the thing that can go wrong.

Eggplant with Basil
Amazing flavor, nice soft texture.
Yellow Curry (I think)
Yum yum yum! Faux meat really worked.

If I had a complaint, it was that they didn't wait for the soup to get finished before serving our mains, resulting in us not getting to them while they were piping hot.

Veggie Grill at the University Center
Menu highlights:
Sweet potato fries
First time I'd ever heard of such a thing. They're sweet, crunchy, and worth ordering.

BBQ Wings
Faux chicken has a great texture, and the BBQ sauce is great (if a touch sweet).

Steamed Kale
I'm a big fan of southern greens, and these are done very well.

Spinach Salad
With caramelized onion, corn salsa, veggie "ham," ginger-papaya vinaigrette. This is a substantial salad which could be split among three people as a side.

Bali Bliss sandwich
"Indonesian style" tempeh in a burger form-factor. The chipotle-ranch was very tasty, but the tempeh was a little plain. That is, it didn't do much for me, flavor-wise, though it was interesting texture-wise.

Texas Hold'em sandwich
BBQ wheat-meat, caramelized onion, and sprouts
Reminds me of the BBQ wings. Have to try this one again. Very good.

Only dessert I've had here. Very creamy, and didn't seem like a jell-o cheesecake. The crust wasn't baked.


The last time I went to a BN, they didn't have self-help computer kiosks to search inventory. Now they do. Welcome to 1999, Barnes and Noble! I've now been the locations at Fashion Island and the Spectrum since my South Coast Plaza visit. I guess the computer thing was the only one that made me dislike them. Well that and the fact that you can pay for a discount card. What's up with that?! I just sell Borders my demographic information for an occasional 30% off coupon...

No bookstore pickup incidents... wait, that's not true. At the Spectrum, I witnessed an employee attempt to show higher value by whistling what I assume was the "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" theme music after talking to a female customer who was inspecting the display. No question in my mind that he was trying to show-off his Charlie Brown nerdosity (not a real word) like a peacock. I could tell because I've done the exact same thing. Just not about Charlie Brown.

Went to the Fashion Island location late on a week day. Scouted out some comfy seats, but decided it would be a better date location if they had love seats as well as single-person comfy chairs. I'm just saying.

That's My Brother

Was watching SportsCenter with my brother a while back, when during an interview, a guy talked about how much he admired a players physicalness.

Physicalness? Really? I struggled to come up with a way to make fun of the word, decided the best way would be to use it myself in a way that was relevant to our current situation.

I opened my mouth to start talking, when my bother did the exact thing I'd planned on.

I almost teared up.

Thats my brother.