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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Burgers and Comedy

Last night I outdid myself with some awesome burgers and a great flick...

My burgers (tentatively titled the WannaSnort, after the awesome burgers I had last weekend):
1 pound 85% lean ground beef (if you can find fattier meat, you're better off)
1 tsp. Louisiana Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
olive oil and a brush
2 over-sized hamburger buns
cream cheese of indeterminate amount
ditto with diced jalapenos (a jar of them works just fine - green chilis would work well, too)

Mix everything together except the olive oil, the buns, the cream cheese, and the diced jalapenos. Season a skillet with your olive oil if you're frying them. If not, chill... we'll come back to it in a second. Mix it the meat with a fork instead of your hands. That way your selfish hands don't steal all the burger grease. Make two patties. That's right... two. Two being the number of patties, having passed the number one, and proceeding directly to two. Three is right out. Once you have two patties, two being the correct number of burger patties to be made, pour a little of that olive oil in a bowl or just drizzle it on both sides of the patties. Use that brush of yours to even it out, to give them a good coating of goodness. Then, set your cooking device to a medium heat setting and cook your burgers up. The olive oil gives the meat a nice crispy outside yet keeps the inside all sorts of juicy and delicious.

When you serve them up, it's best to have some over-sized, hearty buns of some sort, like Kaiser rolls or big sandwich hoagie buns or something like that. When the burgers are almost done cooking, bust out a hearty amount of plain cream cheese and throw a layer on the bottom bun, let's say almost 1/4" thick. That gives the meat a nice place to live for a few minutes. Move the meat into position on the cheese, and grab those bits of jalapeno and put a layer of these on top of your burger. Then put the top of the bun on your monster and proceed to make it disappear.

I managed to pair this burger with some barbeque Lays chips and the movie "Men Who Stare At Goats", which was dry, but hilarious as a result. Burgers and gluttony seem to go well with a movie which makes you laugh so hard, you seem to forget about the heart attack you're going to have 10 years too early. The premise of this movie was the hidden and secret formation of a "psychic spy" unit of the United States Army, including a man with the power to stare at a goat until it's heart stopped. As horrific as this sounds, it was actually very funny and well done. George Clooney and Jeff Bridges stole the show, and Kevin Spacey, as oddly evil and intimidating as he could be, made me laugh more than once. The high parts for me were Ewan MacGregor, Obi-Wan Kenobi in the new Star Wars movies, asking very honestly and innocently Clooney what a Jedi was... classic!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Red Cliff and T-Bones

I had the privilege of watching the 5-hour, two-part, battle epic movie "Red Cliff" on Friday night... and into Saturday morning. This movie, like "300" and "Braveheart" before it, was a exaggerated historical account of the Battle of Red Cliffs (or the Battle of Chibi), which, to quote Wikipedia "was a decisive battle at the end of the Han Dynasty, immediately prior to the period of the Three Kingdoms in China."

John Woo does a fantastic job directing this film, which I watched after cooking up and devouring a t-bone steak I had marinated all night before. I served it up with some sautéed mushrooms, garlic, and bell peppers... but I'm digressing.

The acting is superb. I don't know any of the names, but I recognized the face of the actor that played in one of my favorite movies brought to the U.S. by Quentin Tarantino, "Hero", starring Jet Li. Yes, this movie is somewhat fantasy, playing into the larger-than-life personae of the hero Generals, Viceroys, Dukes, and featuring your standard evil bad guy, the one that unites all of the good and virtuous against him.

What sets this flick apart is that, while it's 5 hours long if both parts are viewed back-to-back, it doesn't feel like it. It moves along, and the anticipation built to showcase the final battle is not betrayed by the scope and scale of the battle itself.

This was a fantastic find, and I'm glad I could see it in it's entirety. The theatrical release was only 3 1/2 hours long.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Lackluster Blizzard of 2010

Yesterday, it snowed all day, and I was optimistic that this weekend was going to be a snowy heaven, where everyone's cars are stuck, the roads are slick, and meetings and appointments are cancelled. No such luck. Today, I woke up to the sun shining brightly, the temperature already in the 20s, and the roads moist, but drying. Oh, well. Time to move to the east coast, perhaps?

Today I have my first official meeting as an Entered Apprentice in Freemasonry's Le Droit Humain. I'm excited, as I was initiated in December with high hopes of success. The comradery, respect, and friendship that the Masons have for each other is something I could really use in my personal life right now, with work being the way it is, my good friend Lyss having a baby over two months early, my relationship with my sister all but gone, and my parents, as a result, out of touch.

Ah, but life is good, all things considered, and I feel I have a chance to earn back some of the karma points I've lost in previous years. October is right around the corner, and the new BattleWagon, while definitely not a snow-worthy stallion, is spacious and worthy of a life with me in residence. The world is a big place, and I have things to see and do before my time expires. I realize it's much too early for me to ponder these things, but I've found in my travels a respect for the small amount of time we all are given to enjoy this blue marble for what it is. There are friends to be made, sights to be seen, dreams and aspirations that have to be realized. While we all have faith in different things, we each have a religion built inside us, where we are Gods and controllers of our own destiny. To waste or squander this gift would seem like a shame.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Winter's Last Stand

It's the fourteenth of March, a special day in my world for reasons I'll choose to keep to myself for the time being. I've spent a majority of my waking hours today supporting a good friend in the hospital. The complexities of our friendship not withstanding, I feel proud to have chosen to be the only person around. Her family lives out of state. Her friends are busy. I, the loner, seem to have ample time to waste, so it's nice to spend it wisely for once.

The snow fell this morning, and the clock jumped forward an hour. I watched the flakes fall from the third floor window. I'm grateful that it snowed at all, this winter being as mild and dry as it has been. It seems all the snow skipped over the Mile High City and chose, instead, to bury the City of Brotherly Love, the Big Apple, and the nation's Capitol.

Bloodwork and monitors, movies and blogs, lunch and magnesium sulfate, labwork and ultrasounds. Hospitals seem to be a black hole that eat time and all sense of direction.  They seem to be the converse accompaniment to snowy weather.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sad Humanity

Last night I was almost asleep around 11pm. I heard someone yelling outside, followed by loud bangs. I woke up to make sure some drunk dude wasn't beating up the BattleWagon. I lucked out. He was just beating on the bus stop. Intrigued, I went to the kitchen, the room with the non-screened window, drank some water, and watched this guy. I debated in my head whether or not I should inform Denver's finest that a loud, obviously intoxicated public nuisance was waking up decent people in the middle of the night. The yelling continued. The punching continued. He repeatedly stumbled off the curb and onto Lincoln Street, a busy artery serving Denver's downtown. I watched as he yelled obscenities at cars, making gestures with his hand indicating he was going to shoot himself in the head. He peed all over the bench at the bus stop, and shortly thereafter, I saw a white Crown Vic with a light bar slowly make its way down the alley across the parking lot from where this gentleman was making his presence known. Slowly, the officer made his way to first street, where he circled around and, followed by another cruiser, engaged the flashy lights and crawled up to the bus stop. Two patrol cars. Two patrol officers. One drunk and angry young man. The officers got out and approached him. I couldn't hear the conversation, but I watched as they talked to him, checking the bag he was carrying and frisking his body for possible threats to their safety. The conversation wasn't all to loud. At one point, I heard an officer say they had called a big, white taxi to come pick him up. Minutes later, what looked like an animal control car pulled up. The young man began yelling again, as two more officers got out of the paddy wagon. The now four officers set off to put this guy in a compartment in the passenger side of the truck feet first. His feet connected with the outside of the truck and he resisted. The two patrol officers then took him head first into the truck and somehow forced the door closed. The man, now in custody, began yelling even more fervently and kicking the closed door loudly, forcefully. Mission accomplished. Another drunk, angry, and violent jerk off the streets. The paddy wagon drove off, and the patrol cars sped off after it. I got to see a live episode of "Cops". I got to see a sad commentary on humanity and the state of things. I slept well last night, but awoke with an oddly conflicting view of what I had seen the night before, both thankful for the people serving and protecting everyone else around, yet disappointed that some people just don't get it. However, for me, today will be a better day, better than it was for a troubled young man yesterday.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another Monday

This past weekend I drove most of the way to my friend Todd's house in a little town called Turret, Colorado. I got stuck on the snow-packed roads, and he saved the BattleWagon from a fate worse than death: tickets from the Chaffee County Sheriff. I parked on the side of the road, and he drove the rest of the way to his place, where we caught up, listened to some music, treated some back pain, and burnt some spaghetti on his fireplace. His sanctuary is a beautiful log cabin overlooking the Arkansas River Valley just north of Salida. From what I understand, it's off-grid and self-sustaining. I would love to he able to emulate this in my own life at some point.

Meanwhile, I feel it best to move into the van again at some point. I think I'll shoot for June or July. HomeBase is great, but it has really just inspired me to be lazy lately, and that laziness has kept me from some serious adventures. However, it's great to stay in and eat good food and watch good movies. I did make a red chili that was incredibly delicious. I suppose there are perks, too.